Vatican City, 16 February 2015 (VIS) - “I am grateful for your commitment to serving the poor. The growing number of marginalised people living in situations of extreme precariousness is a fact that calls to us and demands zealous solidarity to offer them the material and spiritual support they need”, said the Pope this morning, as he received in audience the members of the Pro Petri Sede Association, on their pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles in these days. “At the same time, we have much to receive from the poor whom we encounter and assist”, he added. “In the throes of difficulty, they are often witnesses to the essential, to family values; they are able to share with those who are poorer than them, and to rejoice in it. … Indifference and self-centredness are always on the increase. Care for the poor enriches us by setting us on a path of humility and truth”.
Francis encouraged them to pray to the Lord, especially during the Lenten time that is about to begin, to ask Him to give them a merciful and poor heart, that knows its own poverty and offers itself to others. He mentioned their valuable work in assisting the neediest populations throughout the world, offering them spiritual consolation so that they do not feel forgotten in their difficulties and retain hope. He also invited them to pray fervently for peace, “so that political leaders may find ways of dialogue and reconciliation”, and concluded by expressing his hope that their pilgrimage might increase in every one of them “the sense of belonging to the Church, which is a great family, and the joy of announcing the Gospel to all. May fraternity be strengthened among you, so you may carry out your mission in the service of the poor and the least, for whom Jesus has a special predilection”.
Before concluding, the Pope added some impromptu words regarding the Benelux countries, which “have filled the world with missionaries. Today they face a vocational crisis. I would like to ask you to knock on the door of Jesus' heart and ask Him not to forget the generosity that these two countries had in other times. May He send vocations to Benelux, so that the life of faith may grow further. You work with the poor and love the poor, but think also of those who are poor in faith, who have no faith because there is no-one to preach it to them. May the Lord send priests to announce the faith. And please, pray for vocations in your countries”.