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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pope Francis speaks with volunteers from France

At 10:55am this morning, in the Sala dei Papi at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Catholic Delegation for Cooperation, a French voluntary service agency that is part of the French Conference of Bishops who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the foundation of their organization.


Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with members of the 
Catholic Delegation for Cooperation

Dear friends,

With joy I welcome you during the pilgrimage which you are currently living in Rome during the 50th anniversary of the Délégation Catholique pour la Coopération.  Through you, I send my cordial greetings to all the volunteers currently in mission in more than fifty countries, as well as to all the people who, today as they did yesterday, benefit from your presence and your competences.

As Blessed Paul VI wrote in his Encyclical Populorum progressio: development cannot be reduced to simple economic growth.  In order for it to be authentic development, it must be integral, which means that it must be aimed at the promotion of every man and of all men ... World-wide solidarity, in order to be evermore efficient, should allow all people to become themselves, artisans of their own destinies (PP, 14 and 65).  These convictions have led the Church in France to create, fifty years ago, the Délégation Catholique pour la Coopération, in fidelity to the great missionary efforts to which it has offered its generous contribution in the course of the past decades.  Along with you, I give thanks to the Lord for the work of his Spirit which has been evident in the human and spiritual journey of volunteers and the work of accompanying various projects of development which your Organization has made possible.  In this way, you serve genuine cooperation between local Churches and among peoples, by opposing poverty and working toward a more just and fraternal world.

The word 'solidarity' was a bit worn out and sometimes badly understood, but it indicates much more than a simply sporadic act of generosity.  It requires the creation of a new mentality that thinks in terms of the community, the priority of the lives of all people as opposed to the appropriation of goods by a few persons (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 188).  It is in this dynamic that the Délégation Catholique pour la Coopération wanted to inscribe their own action, bringing about a true partnership with the Church and with local authorities from the countries in which their volunteers are sent, and working in cooperation with civic authorities and all people of good will.  You also contribute to an authentic ecological conversion that recognizes the eminent dignity of every person, the value of which is seen in your creativity and your ability to seek and to promote to common good (cf Encyclical Laudato si', 216-221).

Therefore, I encourage all members of Délégation Catholique pour la Coopération to grow a culture of mercy, based on the rediscovery of an encounter with the other: a culture in which no one looks to the other with indifference or turns his attention away when we sees the suffering of his brothers (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, 20).  Do not be afraid to walk the streets of fraternity and to build bridges between persons and peoples, in a world where it is still possible to build many walls through fear of others.  Through your initiatives, your projects and your actions, you give evidence to a poor Church with and for the poor, a Church that goes out, making herself close to people who are suffering, insecure, marginalized and excluded.  I encourage you to be at the service of a Church that allows everyone to discover the amazing closeness of God, his tenderness and his love, and to welcome the strength that he gives us in Jesus Christ, his living Word, so that we use our talents for the good of all and the preservation of our common home.

I ask the Lord to help you to serve the culture of encounter within the one human family, and I impart my Apostolic blessing upon you and all the members of Délégation Catholique pour la Coopération.  Thank you.
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