“The culture of care … calls for a common, supportive and inclusive commitment to protecting and promoting the dignity and good of all, a willingness to show care and compassion, to work for reconciliation and healing, and to advance mutual respect and acceptance. As such, it represents a privileged path to peace,” said Pope Francis in his address.
Bishop Thien also encouraged lay Catholics to minimize this year's festivities so as to help serve those with less. Instead of participating in extravagant parties, he said, parishioners could consider donating the funds that would have gone to such celebrations to a charitable cause, like funeral ministries.
Members of the diocese have already begun to implement similar initiatives. On Jan. 3, parishes in the provinces of Hau Giang and Ca Mau opened shops for poor families to access discounted food, clothes, and other basic necessities. There, the beneficiaries were also offered a free meal and hair cut.
In his address for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis said Catholics have provided for other members of the Body of Christ since the early days of Christianity. He said it was common for Christians to donate to the poor and care for the dead as well as support orphans, the elderly, and victims of a disaster.
The pope said these types of charitable works will further a culture of life and promote peace and goodwill. He encouraged everyone to use these works of mercy as a compass.
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“[The early Christians] strove to make their community a welcoming home, concerned for every human need and ready to care for those most in need,” he said.
“This will enable us to esteem the value and dignity of every person, to act together in solidarity for the common good, and to bring relief to those suffering from poverty, disease, slavery, armed conflicts, and discrimination.”