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Pope: 'Be artisans of mercy'

In December prayer intention, Pope Francis asks for more committed volunteer organizations

VATICAN CITY | In the last Pope Video of the year, Francis highlights the value of volunteer non-profit organizations — and all the people who participate in them — as key agents in society thanks to their commitment to human promotion and to the common good.

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Aware of the need to “multiply hope” in communities, he asks Catholics to pray “that volunteer non-profit and human development organizations may find people willing to commit themselves to the common good and ceaselessly seek out new paths of international cooperation.”

The Holy Father is entrusting this intention to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

His December 2022 message centers on the need for “volunteers who commit to the common good,” who are “artisans of mercy” and multipliers of hope. In his intention, the Holy Father encourages them to continue their labor, working “not just for the people, but with the people,” being close to them, and always listening to other people’s needs.

The Holy Father’s appeal highlights the work of millions of volunteer organizations and associations throughout the world, the majority of which often lack visibility and recognition as legal entities.

In fact, according to the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program, 1 out of every 9 people in the world does volunteer work. In total, there are 862.4 million volunteers across all the continents, and adding all the hours of volunteer work would give the equivalent of 109 million fulltime workers.

However, “the majority of volunteering globally happens informally.” This factor complicates obtaining precise statistics regarding the impact volunteers have on communities.

Many volunteer organizations in the world are of Christian inspiration, and with their work they seek to bear witness to the Gospel in the most difficult situations. From Lebanon to the Philippines, from Mexico to Ukraine, passing through Venezuela and Uganda, The Pope Video this month shows these organizations at the side of victims of natural disasters, of the poor who suffer the consequences of the economic crisis, of malnourished children, of refugees who are fleeing from wars, and of young people and of women who are seeking employment.

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“Being a volunteer who helps others is a choice that makes us free,” says Francis in The Pope Video. “It opens us to other people’s needs —to the demands of justice, to the defense of the poor, to the care of creation.”

Francis doesn’t neglect to share the fundamental aspects that he believes should characterize these organizations, such as being close to others, listening to them, and making the effort to give the best of oneself so as to truly multiply hope in communities that are desperate for general human promotion.

In addition, the pope holds that a fundamental aspect of volunteering involves changing the focus to work not so much for the people as with the people. This means getting involved with them as equals in search of a common cause.

Lastly, the Pope insists on the need for ever greater cooperation both among different volunteer organizations and between those organizations and States.