Pope Francis says "In this way you translate fidelity to the Gospel into facts, which prompts us to serve the brothers, especially the most disadvantaged." to Alpine Soldiers
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ALPINE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
Saturday, February 26, 2022
Dear friends of the National Alpine Association!
I am happy to welcome you and greet you with affection, starting with the National President, whom I thank for his words. I greet the elderly, a living memory of heroic dedication and training in sacrifice; I greet the young people, who continue their journey looking upwards, with the tenacious and patient gait of the mountaineer who climbs the steep paths to reach the summit. And, as good Alpine, always with the heart and arms ready to support the climbing partners and to take care of creation, our common home, which is wounded today. I would like to encourage you to go on like this: anchored to your roots, to your memory, and at the same time "tied up in a roped party", diligent in helping you, so as not to give in to fatigue and carry on together fidelity to your good commitments and to your word.
This meritorious Association of yours is present in Italy and in many parts of the world - even in Argentina - and offers, among other things, a beautiful witness of fraternity and service. Fraternity and service : two words that describe you well and on which I would like to reflect briefly.
Fraternity . It is nice to see that you have been able to walk together for a century, proving that you are a family. Your reality, branched out into various Sections and Groups with specific characteristics, has been able to make the diversity of individuals and the variety of groupings opportunities to increase fraternity. I wonder: what made your Association not just an organization, but resemble a family? I think I can say that the secret lies not only in the values that unite you and in the team spirit that distinguishes you, but above all in the living sense of altruism .. You are not Alpine for yourself, but for others and with others. And it is nice that in this sense you propose to "enlarge the family", willing to collaborate with others: with the soldiers serving in the Army, but also with various charities. Today, in the suffocating climate of individualism that makes many indifferent, there is a need to start from here, to rediscover the enthusiasm to take care of others. Your testimony is important: this testimony is historical and current.
This fraternity, therefore, is nourished through service to others. By volunteering, you are a constant point of reference. In fact, your commitment to emergencies is well known, which makes your Association a modern intervention and rescue force. Your contribution is especially aimed at people who find themselves in a situation of suffering and need, so that they do not feel alone and marginalized. In this way you translate fidelity to the Gospel into facts, which prompts us to serve the brothers, especially the most disadvantaged. I think of your presence alongside the earthquake victims and those affected by calamities; your support in building infrastructure for vulnerable people; to your generous availability during the pandemic.
The centenary experience of your Association attests that the Alpini have stood alongside the Italians in the most disparate scenarios. You did not remain spectators during the most difficult moments, no, you were and are courageous protagonists of the time you live. This concreteness in serving, the soul of your association, is the Gospel put into practice. It is no coincidence that you boast four Blesseds, who embodied the message of Jesus to the point of heroism and self-giving: Don Carlo Gnocchi, Don Secondo Pollo, Teresio Olivelli and Brother Luigi Bordino.
I encourage you to remain firmly attached to these strong roots, to continue bearing fruit in current situations. Thus the example of fraternity and service proper to the Alpine troops will not fail in society. Example of civil and Christian responsibility. It is so much needed today. You are field hospital experts. You know that it is not enough to pitch tents; those we need, of course, but we also and above all need human warmth, a presence-beside, a tender presence. I am struck by the tenderness of the Alpine heart, a strong man but in the strongest moments of life, that tenderness comes. I am reminded of that testament [“The captain's testament”, song of the Alpini], the tenderness towards four women: the mother, the fiancée, the homeland and the mountains. This is your tenderness, which you carry inside, which is guarded by the force of work and being next to everyone. Strong but tender. May you offer this presence, I would say paternal, close to the weakest people, in whom Jesus is, as He told us: "Everything you did to one of these least brothers of mine, you did it to me" (Mt 25,40).
Dear Alpini, go ahead! Always on the way, safeguarding and increasing your patrimony of fraternity and service, so that the National Alpine Association remains a large family united and reaching out to the good of others. May Our Lady, venerated in many small chapels and aedicules scattered over the mountains, always accompany you. I give you my blessing, to you, to all the members and to your families. And you, please, don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!