Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Catholic Bishops' Conference (CEI), inaugurated the first meeting of the year of the CEI's Permanent Council with an opening speech on the state of the Catholic Church in Italy. One of the most prominent themes of the address was his call for a "new generation" of Catholics to provide for "the foundations of civilization."
The prelate touched on many subjects including the Pope's recent visit to the Synagogue of Rome, the extraordinary response by Italians in providing assistance to Haiti and papal addresses from the Pope. However, it was the end of the speech that drew the most attention.
In his conclusion, the cardinal spoke of a "dream" of his that a "new generation of Italians and Catholics might rise up" to public offices, where they can "give the best of their thoughts, projects and days" to "marking the destiny of all."
Cardinal Bagnasco said that he knows those who work in politics "need the abundant grace of God, but," he added, they also need to let that grace "invest and work" in them.
"We need a Christian community in which the lay faithful learn to live the mystery of God in life with intensity, exercising the fundamental goods of liberty, truth and conscience.
"There is a growing urgency for capable men and women, with the help of the Spirit, to incarnate these ideals and translate them into history not by the easier path of convenience ... but by the truer path, that better deploys the project of God on humanity, and therefore is able to stir, in time, the admiration of others," he stated.
"We would like values to constitute the foundations of civilization," concluded Cardinal Bagnasco, listing the Church's concerns in this arena for "any way human life presents itself and wherever it exists; the family formed of a man and a woman and founded on marriage; the educative responsibility; solidarity towards others, in particular the weakest; employment as a possibility for personal realization; the community as good destiny that associates men and brings them closer to the goal..."
The first issues on the agenda for the Permanent Council are the drafting of the third edition of the Roman Missal and reaching an agreement as to the territorial organization of the Italo-Albanian Church in Italy.