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The Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul

Prince of Asturias Award for Concord 2005

Your Majesty, Your Highness, Mr. President of the Prince of Asturias Foundation, honourable ecclesiastical, civil and military authorities, ladies and gentlemen,
"Love and Faithfulness will meet
Justice and Peace will embrace" (Psalm 84)

I am overjoyed to be able to speak to you in this forum of the Prince of Asturias Foundation within the setting of a society that is ever more aware and thirsty for concord and peace, for respect for the dignity of mankind, for truth, for justice and for freedom. I have begun this short, simple speech by invoking the words of Psalm 84, in which the psalmist highlights the link between justice and peace so skilfully. Justice and peace are mutually dependent upon each other; they are inseparable.

Might I first congratulate the Foundation on behalf of the Daughters of Charity for fostering the great cultural, scientific, humanitarian and social values that help to make life more humane and that inspire justice and peace in our world.

Might I also express our thanks for the accolade that your Foundation has conferred upon us in acknowledgement of the humanitarian and social service provided by the Company of the Daughters of Charity in Spain and throughout the world throughout our 372 years of commitment towards those who seek nourishment, consolation and hope. It is an acknowledgement of the whole Church and of all those who have dedicated time, work and resources to the underprivileged and to those who are denied justice and seek peace in our world.

It is clear that our society yearns for a world without frontiers, a world where there are no barriers between the haves and the have-nots. More and more of our fellow citizens, particularly young people, feel the urge to build a new world that is more supportive of our fellow man. A world spawned of the globalisation of love; a new world, a new family of peoples sharing the earth's wealth more fairly and showing greater solidarity; a world that deep down and almost without being aware of it, needs faith and hope; a world that hungers for God.

Living a life of solidarity commits you to going the extra mile in defence of the integrity of life, sometimes threatened by the self-interests of the few.

Living a life of solidarity commits you to going the extra mile in the quest for sufficient resources to better the living conditions of those doomed to mere survival, those lost in the maze of marginalisation, those forced to flee their countries in makeshift boats, to the utter shame of our society.

Living a life of solidarity is a challenge for us Daughters of Charity, called as we are to continue on earth the mission of Jesus Christ, apostle and redeemer of the poor, spurred on as we are by Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac, our Founders and friends of the humble and the needy.

We are happy and consider ourselves fortunate to be able to dedicate our lives to the Lord and to spend it in the service of our brothers and sisters. Life infuses the history of the Church and is described in exquisite prose written in the simple, humble language of succour for the needy, in the silent language of constructive generosity. The Company of the Daughters of Charity strives to collaborate in some modest way in building a civilization of love, where justice and peace will reign ever more. Glory be to God for this Prince of Asturias Award!

Finally, dear friends, my undying gratitude goes out to you for allowing the voices of those scarred by life to ring out in this extraordinary forum and for hearing the message they send us from the depths of their suffering. Whenever we open our hearts to our fellow man, the light of hope shines forth, "justice and peace embrace."


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