Pope says volunteers express God's affection for world
Pope John Paul II has said the task of Christian volunteers is to make people experience their selfless dedication as an expression of "the tenderness of the heavenly Father".
The Holy Father described the role of Christian volunteers when he met on Saturday with members of the Italian-based Federation of Christian Organisations of International Volunteer Service (FOCSIV), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The Holy Father said that a volunteer who is Christian is called to express "the providential tenderness of the heavenly Father".
He went further, saying love of neighbour "needs to be nourished by the furnace of divine charity," if it is not to fall prey to reservations or exhaustion".
"This implies prolonged moments of prayer, attentive and constant listening to the Word of God and, above all, a life centred on the mystery of the Eucharist," he added.
The Holy Father encouraged FOCSIV members "to respond to the urgencies of all those who are obliged to live in conditions of difficulty or abandonment."
FOCSIV embraces 56 non-governmental organisations present in 79 countries. It boasts 66,000 volunteers who head 542 development projects. The federation started with the support of Pope Paul VI in 1972, when some lay people committed themselves to aid developing countries.
Federation of Christian Organisations of International Volunteer Service (FOCSIV)
18 Dec 2002