News & Policies >
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 9, 2007
President Bush Participates in Roundtable on Humanitarian and Volunteer Efforts
1:01 P.M. (Local)
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank the good folks of Sant'Egidio for joining us. Sant'Egidio is one of the great faith-based organizations in the world. And we're here to talk about our common commitment to help the poor, feed the hungry, and help eradicate disease. The United States is firmly committed to helping the people on the continent of Africa. And we've committed in our -- and we'll work with our Congress to spend $30 billion to deal with HIV/AIDS, over a billion to deal with malaria, billions to deal with hunger, money to deal with education.
But these programs cannot be effective without loving people on the ground, helping a neighbor in need. I want to thank you for being a part of these international army of compassion. I thank you for hearing the call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. I'm looking forward to hearing your strategies in dealing with some of the more difficult problems in the world. I'm proud of your organization, and I thank all members of your organization for being such loving souls.
Thank you for having us here.
MR. IMPAGLIAZZO: Thank you, Mr. President. Before our strategy, some little word about our community, with your permission.
MR. PRESIDENT: Please.
MR. IMPAGLIAZZO: The community of Sant'Egidio was born in Rome, in this city, in 1968. At that time the West was wondering about its future and the young people were looking for something. Andrea Riccardi, who is the founder of our community, was a student at the time in a high school of Rome. He called some of his fellow students to listen and to live according to the gospel, gospel of Jesus.
In those years, people believed that the revolution would change the world. Andrea understood that there would have been no lasting chance unless the people's hearts were touched by the word of Jesus. This word put into practice, man, first of all, to be friends with the poor.
Today, there are communities of Sant'Egidio in 70 countries, with 60,000 members all over the world. Its spirituality is founded on several pillars -- just three pillars, Mr. President. First, prayer, which takes place every day in all our communities -- a personal prayer, reading the Scripture every day, but also common prayer. It means that every day, 60,000 people open the Scriptures. They read it and pray to the Lord from the beautiful churches of Rome -- like the Basilica of Santa Maria, Trastevere, that you would have visited -- to the hearts of Africa, or so many places in the immense lands of Latin America. Mr. President, prayer is our friend.
The second pillar is mission, reaching out to all those who seek and ask for a sense of their rights.
Finally, the third pillar, solidarity with the poor. There's a voluntary service carried out for free because no one is paid for his service to the poor in our community, no one.
Gratuitousness, Mr. President, is what our society is missing today. Everything is there to buy or to sell. But Jesus said, you received without payment, give without payment, Jesus said. This word of Jesus is the serve of our member's work. In our study, one thing has always proved, too, there is no loss for the poor without pay.
Christians must live with the freeness of the heart. One never has the solution to everything, but we must not close our hearts when we do not have a solution. We are all the window of the world. That is why we cannot forget demands of the poor peoples of the world.
So what is striking in our thought is that these signs, signs of resurrection, to praise in those very places where it seems there is no hope left, like Africa. With your permission, Mr. President, I would like to pass now the floor to my friends who work every day in Africa.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Thank you all.
END 1:06 P.M. (Local)