By Vatican News staff writer
Addressing members of Caritas Italiana in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on Saturday, Pope Francis noted that each member is "a living part of the Church". You are "our Caritas", said the Pope quoting Paul VI who founded the organisation 50 years ago. Paul VI "encouraged the Italian Bishops' Conference to set up a pastoral body to promote the witness of charity in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, so that the Christian community would be a subject of charity. I confirm your task: in today's changing times there are many challenges and difficulties, there are more and more faces of the poor and complex situations in the territory", said the Pope.
Path of the least
Pope Francis noted that this anniversary is a milestone, and he indicated three roads "on which to continue the journey".
The first is the path of the least, said the Pope. "It is from them that we start, from the most fragile and defenseless", he noted. "Charity is the mercy that seeks out the weakest, that reaches out to the most difficult frontiers in order to free people from the slavery that oppresses them and to make them protagonists of their own lives", he explained. Over the past five decades, many significant decisions have helped Caritas and the local Churches to practice this mercy, noted the Pope.
The way of the Gospel
Pope Francis then went on to discuss the second indispensable way: the way of the Gospel. This, said the Pope, implies the style of humble love, concrete but not showy, which is proposed but not imposed. "It is the style of gratuitous love, which does not seek rewards. It is the style of availability and service, in imitation of Jesus who made himself our servant". Pope Francis explained that "charity is inclusive" and not concerned only with the material aspect, neither only with the spiritual. "The salvation of Jesus embraces the whole man", he added.
The Gospel shows us that Jesus is present in every poor person, noted the Pope. "It is good for us to remember this in order to free ourselves from the ever-recurring temptation of ecclesiastical self-reference and to be a Church of tenderness and closeness, where the poor are blessed, where mission is at the center, where joy is born of service".
The way of creativity
The third way, continued the Pope, is the way of creativity. He explained that "the rich experience of these fifty years is not a baggage of things to be repeated; it is the basis on which to build in order to decline in a constant way what St. John Paul II called the imagination of charity. The Pope urged those present to "not let yourselves be discouraged by the growing numbers of new poor and new poverty", but rather "continue to cultivate dreams of fraternity and to be signs of hope".
Bringing his address to a close, the Pope expressed his gratitude to Cartitas Italiana employees, priests and volunteers! He noted that during the pandemic they intensified their presence and "relieved the loneliness, suffering and needs of many". He. thanked the young volunteers, noting that young people "are the most fragile victims of this era of change, but they are also the potential architects of a change of era". Caritas can be a gymnasium of life to help many young people, concluded the Pope, and in this way "Caritas itself will remain young and creative, will maintain a simple and direct gaze, which fearlessly turns to the Above and to the other, as children do".