Pope to Managers, Volunteers of FIDESCO Group

International Catholic Solidarity Organization

Pope Managers Volunteers FIDESCO
© Vatican Media

This morning Pope Francis received in audience — in the Apostolic Vatican Palace –, the Managers and Volunteers of the FIDESCO Association, an International Catholic Solidarity Organization, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its foundation.

Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present as the audience.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Address

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to receive you, managers, and volunteers of the FIDESCO organization during your pilgrimage to Rome, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of your foundation at the service of the Church and of development. I thank the Director for his greeting and introduction. Your visit to the tombs of the Apostles enables you to root even better the actions you carry out daily in your faith in Christ, dead and resurrected, and in the heart of the mission of the Church. I hope that this spiritual renewal you are living, characterized by a penitential connotation in this time of Lent, will make you return to your brothers and sisters even more enthusiastic and joyful.

“To let oneself be loved by God and [. . . ] to love Him with the love that He himself communicates to us, elicits a first and fundamental reaction in a person’s life and actions: the desire to seek and to have at heart the good of others (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 178). It’s this “good of others” that you seek, driven by the breath of the Spirit when you decide to leave for a year with the FIDESCO organization to serve the most distant, less fortunate, more disadvantaged brothers and sisters, with fewer opportunities than you, yet as much loved by God and gifted with dignity.

Over these days the Church enters in the great meditation of the Lord’s Passion. The suffering Christ is present in the poor, excluded, sick, and hungry person who carries with Him the mystery of the cross. You will get great benefit from living fully this time of the Passion to draw from the source of your mission. “To confess that Jesus has given his Blood for us impedes us from harboring the least doubt about the unbounded love that ennobles every human being” (Ibid.). Every human being is worthy. Every human being is a brother or sister for me. I invite you when you are in full swing of your mission, with your personal relationship with the Lord and with your life of faith, to keep intact the wonder, the fascination, and the enthusiasm of living the Gospel of fraternity (Cf. Ibid., 179). We are in need of it in the most difficult moments of loneliness, of discouragement, of disappointment . . .

I would like to thank FIDESCO, its managers, its volunteers and to thank the Lord for the work carried out in these 40 years of missionary service, as well as for the witness rendered to Christ, who came to save the whole man and all men. In fact, your solidary action is geared to the integral development of the person, to the care not only of their material needs but also of their social integration, and their intellectual, cultural and spiritual growth, giving each one their dignity. I encourage you to persevere on this path, remaining rooted in the Social Doctrine of the Church. Today, it’s more important than ever that Christ’s faithful be witnesses of tenderness and compassion. To listen to the cry of the poor that resounds in oneself, to let oneself be challenged by the suffering of others and to decide to go far away to touch their wounds, which are Christ’s wounds, not only makes you take part in the building of a more beautiful, more fraternal, more evangelical world, but it reinforces the Church in her mission to hasten the establishment of the Kingdom of God (Cf. Ibid., 180-).

Finally, I would like to underscore the personal growth that a commitment, even if temporary, in your Association can contribute to the human level as well as the level of faith. One who commits himself in your missions finds not only the opportunity of an opening to the world and to cultures but also the means to respond to the mercy that God has shown him: “Be merciful, as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). He also finds a spiritual path in response to God’s free gift. Once again, the opportunity you offer, especially to the youngest, to grow in the faith and in humanity, merits gratitude.

I wish you a good pilgrimage and I entrust you, as I do all the members of FINESCO, to the protection of the Virgin Mary. I give you my heartfelt blessing and ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [Exaudi’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]