Volunteers a Sign of Hope for the World, Pope Says

Calls Charity "the Most Eloquent Form of Evangelization"

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Volunteers are "a sign of hope" for our time and for the poor, John Paul II says in a message at the close of the U.N. International Year of Volunteers.



"Whether you work individually or are grouped in associations, you represent -- for children, the elderly, the sick, and people in difficulty -- a ray of hope that illuminates the darkness of loneliness and encourages the defeat of the temptation to violence and egoism," the Pope writes in the message.

The message was published today by the Vatican Press Office.

It is one of the numerous initiatives with which the Catholic Church has contributed to the U.N. celebration. Last Saturday the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers concluded an international congress on volunteers and health care.

In his message, the Pope encourages volunteers, members of an "army" of peace, to elicit the "unsuspected selfless resources, the goodness, and even heroism, found in the heart of man."

Volunteers such as Maximilian Kolbe and Mother Teresa of Calcutta are an eminent expression of Christian commitment, he says.

"Charity represents the most eloquent form of evangelization because, by responding to corporeal needs, it reveals to men the love of God, provident Father, who is always concerned about every one," the Holy Father states.

"It is not a question of satisfying only the material needs of one´s neighbor, such as hunger, thirst, lack of home, medical care, but of helping him to experience personally the love of God," the Bishop of Rome explains.

"As a volunteer, the Christian becomes a witness of this divine love; he proclaims it and makes it tangible with courageous and prophetic interventions," the papal message concludes.