Pope Francis says "Never again war!" We repeat it today in the face of what is happening in Ukraine, and we protect the people's dream of peace, the sacred right..." to Protection Service Volunteers

Clementina room
Monday, May 23, 2022

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank the President for the words of greeting he addressed to me on behalf of the entire national civil protection service. I know how worthy your work is and I like to remember how much good you have done during the recent pandemic, especially in its most acute phases. You have made yourselves available to help the most fragile families; you have carried out support and safety services for the elderly and vulnerable people; you have assisted many who were sick, poor or alone at home. You have supported the vaccination campaign with competence and free of charge through the action of volunteers. Likewise, your commitment to humanitarian assistance and the reception in Italy of refugees from Ukraine, especially women and children who fled this absurd war, was not lacking. Thank you for what you have done and what you continue to do in silence. Good makes no noise but builds the world.
I would like to share with you three points for reflection and action, suggested by the word that inspires your service: protection. You are placed to protect the people most exposed to dangers and frailties. It is a mission that recalls that of the Good Samaritan of the Gospel (cf. Lk 10: 29-37). Spend time, care and offer skills and services. When this happens, society is improved. The verb "to protect" indicates taking care of the brother towards his brother, a concrete fraternity, guarding life, preserving it, watching over it. The "civil protection" that you guarantee makes me think of these three aspects.
The first protection we need is the one that protects us from social isolation: to protect so as not to fall into social isolation. It is a very important way of giving a voice to hope. Let's not forget that «the recent pandemic has allowed us to recover and appreciate many companions and travel companions who, in fear, reacted by giving their lives. We have been able to recognize that our lives are intertwined and sustained by ordinary people who, no doubt, have written the defining events of our shared history […]. They understood that no one is saved alone "(Enc. Fratelli tutti, 54).
In this description I also find your commitment and your testimony. You really don't save yourself. We need to understand and see that our life depends on that of others and that good is contagious. Becoming a neighbor of brothers makes us better, more available and in solidarity. And at the same time our society becomes a little more liveable. To the extent that these attitudes grow and connect in a style of supportive citizenship, then they really build a "civil protection". The emergencies of recent years, linked to the reception of refugees fleeing wars or climate change, remind us of how important it is to meet someone who extends his hand, offers a smile, spends time for free, who makes you feel at home. Every war marks a surrender to the human capacity to protect. A denial of what is written in the solemn commitments of the United Nations. Therefore St. Paul VI, speaking to the UN, proclaimed: "Never again war!" (October 4, 1965). We repeat it today in the face of what is happening in Ukraine, and we protect the people's dream of peace, the sacred right of peoples to peace.
The second protection to be promoted is that from environmental disasters - I met him [the President] right in the earthquake-stricken land -. I have often remembered an old Spanish saying which says: "God always forgives, men forgive every now and then, nature never forgives." The climatic changes of our time have multiplied extreme weather events, with dramatic consequences for civilian populations. The impact is catastrophic for people who lose their homes due to flooding of waterways, tornadoes, hydrogeological instability. The earth cries out! When we force our hand, nature shows his cruel face and man is crushed, forced to cry out in fear of him. The intervention of the Civil Protection was also essential in the event of earthquakes, testifying to the vocation to protect people affected by similar tragedies. Protection is a sign of care for the territory you live in: you are a safeguard to save human lives and to promote communities. We are called to protect the world and not to plunder it.
The third protection occurs through prevention. "Everyone loves and cares for their land with special responsibility and cares for their country, just as everyone must love and care for their home so that it does not collapse, since the neighbors will not. The good of the world also requires that everyone protect and love their land "(Fratelli tutti, 143). Prevention can be achieved by involving the various subjects responsible for the administration of a territory. Consciences need to be formed so that the common goods are not abandoned or only to the advantage of a few. And be vigilant so that adverse events do not unleash irreparable disasters on the people. In a positive sense, it is important to educate in beauty, to preserve life stories and traditions, cultures and social experiences. By doing this, you become artisans of hope, that virtue that "is bold, knows how to look beyond personal comfort, the small securities and compensations that narrow the horizon, to open up to great ideals that make life more beautiful and dignified" (ibid. ., 55).
To protect is therefore to take care. We know how to do it with tenderness only if we recognize that we are the first to be guarded. God is Father, he takes care of us and does not let us lack his love for him. The prophet Isaiah recalls that God designed us "on his palms" (49:16). He never abandons, he always takes by the hand and accompanies, protects and supports. A Psalm also reminds us that "the Lord protects the little ones" (116,6). If we feel guarded by him, we learn generous protection towards our brothers and sisters, as so many examples of saints teach us.
And I wouldn't want to finish without underlining a word: volunteering. You are volunteers. I found three things in Italy that I haven't seen elsewhere. One of these three things is the strong volunteering of the Italian people, the strong vocation to volunteer. It is a treasure: keep it! It is your cultural treasure, keep it well!
Dear friends, I encourage you to continue your good work among the most needy, according to the luminous testimony of your patron Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. I accompany you in prayer, I bless all of you and your families. And I ask you, please, to pray for me, because this work is not easy! Thanks.
Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot Vatican News