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Friday, April 13, 2012


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - An Italian book entitled "Il Santo Padre e i volontari europei" was presented this morning at the headquarters of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, respectively president and secretary of the council, and by Michel Roy, secretary of Caritas Internationalis.

A communique released by "Cor Unum" explains that the book contains, "apart from an address by the Pope on the subject of voluntary work, the most important contributions made during a conference on that topic held in the Vatican last year. The conference, which took place in the context of the European Year of Volunteering, was attended by bishops with pastoral responsibility for charitable work and representatives of European charity organisations". The presentation "will also serve to focus on future Church strategies in this field", the communique says.

Speaking during last November's conference Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, focused on the civic importance of voluntary work, especially in view of the current economic and cultural crisis. She also recalled that around twenty per cent of the European population undertakes some kind of voluntary activity. "Volunteer work", she said, "is a great resource for Europe and part of the continent's DNA".

Addressing the participants at the end of the conference last year, Benedict XVI noted that their meeting was taking place on the liturgical memorial of St. Martin of Tours. "Often portrayed sharing his mantle with a poor man", he said, "Martin became a model of charity throughout Europe and indeed the whole world. Nowadays, volunteer work as a service of charity has become a universally recognised element of our modern culture. Nonetheless, its origins can still be seen in the particularly Christian concern for safeguarding, without discrimination, the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. If these spiritual roots are denied or obscured and the criteria of our collaboration become purely utilitarian, what is most distinctive about the service you provide risks being lost, to the detriment of society as a whole".


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