(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the staff and volunteers of the Telefono Amico Italia service on Saturday. Celebrating fifty years of activity this year, Telefono Amico is a volunteer service that makes itself available to anyone feeling lonely, depressed, anxious, or angry – or who simply wants to reach out and talk to a friendly person willing to listen.
There are 700 volunteers staffing the organization’s telephones in 20 locations throughout Italy, from 10am to midnight every day.
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The Holy Father told his guests dialogue allows us to know and understand each other's needs.
“First,” he said, “it shows a great deal of respect, because it places people in an attitude of openness to one another, in order for each to receive the best aspects of his interlocutor.”
Dialogue is also an expression of charity, insofar as it can help people search out paths forward while respecting each other’s differences, all with a view to the common good. “Through dialogue,” said Pope Francis, “we can learn to see the other not as a threat, but as a gift of God[.]”
The Pope went on to say, “Dialogue helps people to humanize their relationships and overcome misunderstandings.”
“If there was more dialogue - real dialogue - in families, in the workplace, in politics,” he added, “so many questions would be resolved so much more easily.”
The Pope went on to say that the ability to listen – which unfortunately is not very common – is a basic and necessary condition of dialogue. “Listening to the other requires patience and attention,” said Pope Francis. “Only those who can keep quiet, know how to listen: to God, to one’s brother or sister who needs help; to a friend, or a family member.”
The Pope said God himself is the finest example of listening.
“[E]ach time we pray,” he said, “He hears us, without asking for anything and he even precedes us and takes the initiative in meeting our requests for help.”
“Aptitude for listening, of which God is the model,” said Pope Francis, “urges us to break down the walls of misunderstanding, [and] to create bridges of communication, overcoming isolation and closure in within one’s own little world.”