Australia’s Catholic bishops have praised the “enormous contribution made by volunteers to the Church and the wider community”, noting the work of volunteers during the Olympic and Paralympic Games and in others
areas of sport and recreation.
“In the International Year (of the Volunteer), however, it is important to recognise the many other less public but constant forms of volunteering in so many fields,” the
Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference said, “especially in poverty alleviation, welfare, health-care, education and the welcoming of permanent or temporary newcomers to our shores.”
The bishops’ statement
draws attention to the “massive contribution made to the life of the Church by volunteers”, specifically mentioning the work of women in a voluntary capacity and that of paid Church employees who often work well
beyond the call of duty.
But they warn that treatment of volunteers should “always conform with Christian principles of justice and fairness” and that volunteers should not be used to deprive the unemployed
of paid work or to replace those taking “justifiable industrial action”.
“The spirit of the volunteer counteracts the individualism and selfishness which are unfortunately among the characteristics of our
age,” the Bishops said.
“The International Year of the Volunteer gives us the opportunity to applaud the altruism and compassion of the many who refuse to allow self-interest to dominate their lives.
“It is also a chance for us to invite everyone with spare time to look for ways of enhancing the common good by voluntary work.”
The Bishops end their statement by calling for “God’s blessing” upon the
volunteers “and those close to them”.