Papal Message to Volunteers of God

"Put the Love of God Back in People's Hearts"

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BUDAPEST, Hungary, SEPT. 17, 2006 ( Here is Benedict XVI's message sent Sept. 9 by Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano to the Volunteerfest -- world meeting of the Volunteers of God -- held in Budapest, Hungary, from Sept. 14-16, and attended by some 11,000 people.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone replaced Cardinal Sodano as secretary of state on Friday.

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To his Eminence
Cardinal Péter Erdó
Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest

Dear Cardinal,

The Holy Father was happy to hear that on Sept. 14-16, the Volunteerfest will be celebrated in Budapest, an event promoted by the Focolare movement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Volunteers of God. This event, of high spiritual significance, is taking place 50 years after the dramatic events of October 1956 which bathed Hungary in blood, drawing the attention of the whole world.

The sad cry of the servant of God, Pope Pius XII, is still alive in people's memories, an appeal launched in a radio message in defense of peoples' rights, of justice and liberty. In response to Peter's Successor, a few months later Chiara Lubich wished to give life to the movement of the Volunteers of God, with the goal of helping Christians live their faith with courage so as to "put the love of God back in people's hearts."

Some five decades later, the Volunteers of God are now meeting in a special congress in this very city to reflect on the theme of "The Volunteers of God: 50 Years of Service to Humanity." This is a precious occasion to take stock of the journey already traveled, to highlight the impact that faith has on daily life in the family, in the work environment, and in the social sphere, and to underscore the constant commitment to witness to Christian faith in public life, through the spirituality of unity.

It is also the occasion to look toward the future with an ardent desire to respond with ever greater generosity to the mission that the Volunteers of God are called to carry out in our times.

To the organizers, sponsors and all of those participating, as well as all those who are spiritually uniting themselves to this meeting, His Holiness sends his cordial greeting together with his encouragement to continue the fruitful work that you have brought ahead up till now, incarnating the Gospel of love in the affairs of each day.

Benedict XVI also greets with affection all those that will join the "Volunteers of God" for the open meeting that has as its theme "Many Challenges, One Proposal: Universal Fraternity." In today's world, marked by dramatic tensions, the Focolare movement hopes to propose, also through this initiative, brotherhood as a possible way to pursue and reach peace among people and with nature, thus contributing to building up "a society that bears witness to one name alone: God."

Wishing you full success in your work, His Holiness assures the participants that he will especially remember them in his prayers and, while he invokes on each the maternal protection of Mary, mother of love, he sends you, your eminence, and to all those present, his apostolic blessing, as a sign of his affection. I willingly unite my own cordial greeting and welcome the occasion to share my deepest sentiments of respect and esteem.

Devotedly yours,

Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of state

From the Vatican, Sept. 9, 2006

[Translation issued by the Focolare movement]