ROME — Christians must be ready to respond with love and charity to those in need, especially the victims of today’s throwaway culture, Pope Francis said.
Meeting with members of the Order of the Ministers of the Sick, commonly known as the Camillians, the pope said that the prevalence of individualism and indifference has “caused loneliness and the throwing away of so many lives.”
“The Christian response does not lie in the resigned observation of the present or in the nostalgic regret for the past, but in charity that, animated by trust in providence, knows how to love its own time and, with humility, bears witness to the Gospel,” he said May 16.
Founded in 1586 by St. Camillus de Lellis, the Camillian order’s constitution states that it is dedicated “before anything else to the practice of works of mercy toward the sick.”
Welcoming the members, who were in Rome for their general chapter, the pope said that like their founder, the Camillians are called to imitate “the compassion and tenderness of Jesus toward those suffering in body and spirit.”
“This is what was accomplished by your founder, who is one of the saints who best embody the style of the good Samaritan, of making himself close to his wounded brother along the way,” the pope said.
“The gift and task inspired by (St. Camillus) to look at the reality of suffering, illness and death through Jesus’ eyes have been entrusted to you,” he said.
Fulfilling their mission, he added, “requires docile openness to the Holy Spirit” and “a certain amount of boldness, in order to discover and travel together unexplored paths or express in new forms the potential of the Camillian charism and ministry.”
Pope Francis said the order’s focus on serving the sick and the elderly combine “two essential dimensions of Christian life,” which are “the desire for an outgoing and concrete witness to others” and “the need to understand oneself according to the standards of evangelical humility.”
Thanking the Camillians for their service to the poor and the sick, the pope called on them to be faithful to the charism inspired by St. Camillus so that “those who are wounded can meet and feel the closeness and tenderness of Christ.”
“It is up to you to give hands, feet, mind and heart to this gift of God, so that it may continue to stir up the works of God in our time, in the time in which we live our vocation,” the pope said.