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             The Holy Father and European Catholic Volunteers
                      Vatican City, 10-11 November 2011

Pope Benedict XVI, in light of the “European Year of Volunteering” declared by the European Union, has welcomed warmly the proposal to use this propitious occasion to thank all those engaged in the numerous Catholic organizations of volunteering throughout the Continent of Europe and encourage their testimony. In fact, this phenomenon is particularly widespread and represents for many people a concrete means to offer a Christian presence, even in those places of extreme poverty and need.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, as the Dicastery of the Holy See responsible for the Church’s charitable activity, has been entrusted with organizing this event.

It will commence on Thursday, 10 November 2011 at 3 PM in the Auditorium of the Palazzo San Pio X, via della Conciliazione 5. The Private Audience of the Holy Father will take place on Friday, 11 November 2011 after a Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Invited to this event and meeting with the Holy Father are the Presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences and the Bishops responsible for Catholic charitable organizations which count upon the work of volunteers and those responsible for the national and international volunteer organizations of the Church.

The meeting with the Holy Father will be held on the day upon which the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, whom Pope Benedict describes in Deus Caritas est as “like an icon, illustrating the irreplaceable value of the individual testimony of charity” (n. 40). May he inspire all of us to “an unselfish love” through “willingness to lose itself for others”!

Vatican City, May 3, 2011