Pope Francis has given volunteers a remedy for how to succeed in even the most dire of circumstances.

Speaking to members of the Federation of Christian Organizations for International Voluntary Service (FOCSIV) noon today in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the Pope urged them to turn to faith when faced with escalating violence in the countries they serve.

FOCSIV is Italy’s largest federation of international voluntary organizations and includes 70 organizations of Christian inspiration. It has more than 5,000 members and nearly 400 support groups in Italy. Its volunteers collaborate in initiatives promoted in various Italian territories and in managing projects in developing countries. The cost of their activities annually is roughly 74 million euro ($91 million).

Acknowledging that their meeting falls on International Volunteer Day, Francis thanked them for all they do to help those in difficulty and in promoting Gospel values.

“Your work alongside men and women in difficulty is a living message of Christ's tenderness, walking with humanity of all time,” he said, telling them to "follow this road.”

While speaking on poverty, the Pope drew special attention to three areas: the environment, war, and migration.

Regarding “the changing face of poverty today”, the Holy Father called on them to "grasp these signs of the times and become a tool in the service of the poor." Solidarity with the poor, he explained, "is to think and act in terms of the community," not the individual.

In addition to fighting poverty, their efforts to counter inequality and help those without work, shelter and rights are very important.

Among the main causes of poverty, Francis asserted, "is an economic system that plunders nature."

"Creation is a wonderful gift that God has given us," the Pope said, which we are to take care of and use for the benefit of all, "with respect."

The Holy Father spoke on the “scandal of war,” present in many of the countries where the volunteers work.

Working for the development of people, the Pope said, volunteers also cooperate "to build peace,” “disarm minds,” “bring people together,” and “build bridges between cultures and religions.”

The 77 year old Pontiff reminded them that faith will help in the most difficult actions, especially in countries “where the spiral of violence seems to leave no room for reason.”

Helping migrants and refugees, who are “trying to leave behind the harsh living conditions and dangers of all kinds,” Francis said, requires the cooperation of all, including institutions, NGOs and church communities. All factors must be involved, he noted, to promote “harmonious coexistence” between people and cultures.

The Pope concluded, encouraging them to remain “true witnesses of charity, peace workers, artisans of justice and solidarity” and entrusting them to Mary’s care.


On ZENIT's webpage:

For the full text of the Pope's address, go to:


On the NET:

Federation of Christian Organizations for International Voluntary Service (in Italian): http://www.focsiv.it/