By Christopher Wells
In an audience with members of Italy’s civil protection service, Pope Francis remembered victims of disasters, as well as aid workers who gave their lives in order to save the lives of others.
Commitment and generosity
The National Service of Civil Protection in Italy has the duty of protecting life, property, and the environment from damage arising from disasters. In his address to workers and volunteers involved in civil protection, the Holy Father acknowledged their “commitment and generosity,” which ensures the effectiveness of the system of public solidarity “for the defence of individual and collective security.”
Pope Francis reminded those present that civil protection involves not only responding to emergencies as they occur, but also of working to predict and prevent disasters, and of assisting survivors as they attempt to return to normal in the wake of disasters.
Importance of education
In this regard, the Pope emphasized the importance of educational initiatives directed towards children and young people, who will be the citizens and volunteers of the future. “I always tell young people,” he said, “ to commit themselves to loving and protecting nature, and to spreading the value of coexistence in a world of greater solidarity” – which will contribute to making the world a safer place.
Finally, Pope Francis recognized that civil protection “is increasing called upon to operate outside national borders, is an organised system based on the principle of subsidiarity.” This, he said, is a distinctive feature of civil protection, which “could inspire other sectors of public life.” “Gathering rapidly around a table in order to agree on and implement effective choices, overcoming individualism in view of a shared objective, can become the method to respond more appropriately to the needs of the population in the perspective of the common good.”