Pope Francis thanks members of Fidesco, a Catholic NGO, for 40 years of service in promoting the integral development of people in poor countries.
By Robin Gomes
The cry of the poor that echoes within us urges us to go out of our way to touch the wounds of Christ in them, and helps create a better world and establish God’s Kingdom.
The Pope made that remark on Saturday when he met a delegation from Fidesco, an international Catholic non-governmental organization that engages its volunteers and their professional skills in development projects in the poor countries of the world.
The organization was founded in 1981 by the Emmanuel Community following a request from African bishops, and serves in fields such as medical and paramedical sectors, education, social work, management, agriculture, and technical and manual trades, providing its services to all regardless of religion, ethnic or culture differences.
The Lord’s Passion in the poor
Meeting a group of Fidesco volunteers and officials on the occasion of their 40th anniversary, the Pope wished that their visit to Rome during the penitential season of Lent would help them return with greater enthusiasm and joy to serve their brothers and sisters. He said that, though they may be far away, less fortunate, more disadvantaged and have fewer opportunities, they are equally loved by God and endowed with dignity.
Noting that the Lenten season culminates with the contemplation of the Lord’s Passion, he said “the suffering Christ is present in the poor, the excluded, the sick and the hungry person who bears with him or her the mystery of the Cross”. This realization, he added, will help them tap into the source of their mission.
The Holy Father invited Fidesco members to perserve the wonder, fascination and enthusiasm of living the Gospel of fraternity when they are in the midst of their mission. This will help them in the most difficult moments of loneliness, discouragement and disappointment.
The Pope also thanked them for their missionary service and witness to Christ, “who came to save the whole person and all people”. The Pope noted that they aim at the integral development of the people, caring not only for their material needs but also for their social integration, their intellectual, cultural and spiritual growth, giving each person his or her dignity.
He underscored the importance of the Church’s social doctrine, saying “it is more important than ever today for Christ’s faithful to be witnesses of tenderness and compassion.”
“Listening to the cry of the poor that resonates within us, allowing ourselves to be provoked by the suffering of others and deciding to go out of our way to touch their wounds, which are the wounds of Christ,” the Pope said, “not only makes us participate in building a more beautiful, more fraternal and more evangelical world but also strengthens the Church in her mission to hasten the establishment of the Kingdom of God.”
The commitment of volunteers, even if temporary, the Pope explained, leads to personal growth on the human level, as well as on the level of faith.
Fidesco’s missions, he said, provide not only the opportunity for openness to the world and to cultures but also the means to respond to God’s mercy.
Source: Vatican News