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Pope calls volunteers a sign of hope for the world

Volunteers are "a sign of hope" for our time and for the poor, Pope John Paul II has said in a message at the close of the UN International Year of Volunteers.

"Whether you work individually or are grouped in associations, you represent -- for children, the elderly, the sick, and people in difficulty -- a ray of hope that illuminates the darkness of loneliness and encourages the defeat of the temptation to violence and egoism," the Holy Fther said in his message message.

The message was published on Wednesday by the Vatican Press Office.

The Pope encouraged volunteers, members of an "army" of peace, to elicit the "unsuspected selfless resources, the goodness, and even heroism, found in the heart of man".

Volunteers such as Maximilian Kolbe and Mother Teresa of Calcutta are an eminent expression of Christian commitment, he says.

"Charity represents the most eloquent form of evangelisation because, by responding to corporeal needs, it reveals to men the love of God, provident Father, who is always concerned about every one," the Holy Father states.

International Year of Volunteers