Pope Francis calls on volunteers to bring peace and leave behind confrontations, and when confrontation is needed, let it be "as brothers."
Sometimes we need to face confrontation in order to solve problems, but when we do need to argue it out, we should engage as brothers, says Pope Francis.
In an audience on November 14, 2022, Pope Francis invited the members of the Italian Federation of Christian Organizations for International Voluntary Service (FOCSIV) to leave behind a “civilization of confrontation.” Putting aside his notes, he improvised a speech to the members of the federation, who came to the Vatican to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation. The Pontiff recommended that disputes, which are sometimes necessary, be fraternal.
“Volunteering is putting in the effort to go out to help others,” the Pope began, noting that “there is no desk volunteering and there is no television volunteering.” The volunteer is “always outgoing, heart open, hand outstretched, legs ready to go.”
Referring again to the ongoing “Third World War,” the Pope lamented that decisions are too often made “on the basis of confrontation.”
“It is easier to say “I am against this, against that, against the other,” than to say “I am with,” he noted.
“‘Who are you?’- ‘Nah, I don’t know who I am, but I am against this and against that.’ One’s identity is being-against, clashing,” the Pope illustrated.
Walking together, on the other hand, “costs us more effort,” he said, warning against volunteers who put their “head in the ground,” to resolve potential problems. It is better to have “a good fight,” he explained, than to ignore a problem, while recommending to nevertheless fight “as brothers.”
The Argentine Pontiff then recalled an argument between his brother and sister, when they were already adults — they “said all kinds of things” — “You did this, you’re a jerk, you’re this, you’re that” — before embracing. Then “my brother said, ‘I’m leaving because I’m busy – Ciao, Bella!‘ A kiss and it was over,” the Pope recalled.
In the speech he had prepared, which was not read but handed out to the participants, the Pope spoke of the “trampled” peace in Ukraine, emphasizing that volunteer work is “a concrete response to those who no longer believe in a possible peace.” He also pleaded for the migrants who have been forced to leave their homes and “continue to die on the routes of desperation, while we discuss their destiny or turn away.”
FOCSIV currently has 94 organizations working in 80 countries for human rights, interfaith dialogue, and the fight against poverty and inequality. Some 27,000 volunteers have participated in the federation’s work since it was founded in 1972.