ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO VOLUNTEERS OF CIVIL PROTECTION
Paul VI Hall
Saturday, 22 December 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I am happy to meet today the components and operational structures that make up the National Service of Civil Protection. I greet the representatives of the voluntary organizations, the scientific community, the Fire Brigade, the Police and Armed Forces, the local, regional, state institutions and the companies that provide essential services. I thank the Head of the National Department for his presentation of the Italian Civil Protection; and I also greet the delegations of foreign states present here.
On this beautiful occasion, rejoiced by the proximity to the holy Christmas, our thoughts and our prayers can not forget the people who this year have been victims of disastrous phenomena, as we feel the desire to remember those rescuers who - even recently - have given his life to save that of others.
Today, at this multicolored assembly, rescuers and rescued people participate together with many ordinary citizens who have decided to make available to the community their skills and their free time, with commitment and generosity, ensuring the full operation of a system that constitutes the most complex and articulated form of public solidarity to protect individual and collective security.
The Italian territory is characterized by the beauty of the landscape and by the richness of the historical-artistic heritage. These wonderful elements unfortunately coexist with situations of danger and vulnerability, which often add up creating situations of very high potential risk.
Today the sciences and technologies are able to help us to know and predict many natural phenomena, but these assessments are not always able to translate into preventive interventions that could drastically reduce the damage to people and things.
Thus, the Italian Civil Protection never ceases to remind us that the defense of human life and the protection of the territory and infrastructure are not only occurring in emergencies, but also and above all in forecasting and prevention activities and in the subsequent phase of return to normality that despite everyone's commitment, it is sometimes longer and more complex than one might imagine.
You first, operators and volunteers, you know well that, as I said in the Encyclical Laudato si ', "ecological culture can not be reduced to a series of urgent and partial answers to the problems that arise with regard to environmental degradation, exhaustion of nature reserves and pollution ". Instead, we need "a different look, a thought, a politics, an educational program, a style of life and a spirituality", because "to seek only a technical remedy for every environmental problem that presents itself, means isolating things that are connected in reality, and to hide the real and deeper problems of the world system "(No. 111).
For these reasons, the most important mission of civil protection becomes that of education, so that in time of peace each citizen is trained to know the places of daily life and, in this way, can adopt behaviors that reduce risks for themselves and for others. In this sense, initiatives that are carried out in schools with children and young people, which will be tomorrow's citizens and volunteers, are particularly useful. I always ask young people to commit themselves to love and protect nature and to spread the value of coexistence, to ensure that everyone's daily commitment can live in a more supportive and therefore safer world.
The territorial institutions are entrusted with the task of planning the correct use of the territory, in some cases also trying to remedy possible errors committed in the past, very often due to lack of knowledge, and to provide for its management and constant maintenance. Equally important is the preparation of civil protection plans and their dissemination: they are indispensable tools for planning prevention interventions and organizing the response in emergency situations. Often the exercise of these functions involves the assumption of great responsibilities, to which correspond few resources and procedures that are not always linear.
Civil Protection, which more and more often is called to operate even outside the national borders, is a system organized on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity, and this is why it represents a peculiarity that could inspire other sectors of public life. Sitting quickly around a table to agree and implement effective choices, overcoming individualism in view of a shared goal, can become the method to respond with greater appropriateness to the needs of the population from the perspective of the common good.
On this road it becomes easier to keep in front of the eyes not only the problems, but also and above all the people, sensing their mission as a qualified and qualifying service for the whole community.
With this spirit, I wish you to celebrate Christmas with joy and peace of heart. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin Mother protect you. And I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you.