.- Pope John Paul II issued a message yesterday to participants in the 44th Social Week of Italian Catholics, stressing the importance of ethical political action informed by truth - "the best antidote against ideological fanaticism."
The meeting, whose theme is "Democracy: New Scenarios, New Powers," is taking place from October 7 to 10 in Bologna. More than one thousand delegates from all over Italy who represent dioceses, associations and movements, are participating in the gathering.
The Holy Father highlights the "risks and threats, for authentic democracy, that come from certain philosophical currents, anthropological visions or political ideas with ideological prejudices."
"For example," he says, "the tendency to think that relativism is a way of thinking that responds better to democratic political forms still exists, as if knowing the truth and adhering to it were an impediment. In reality," he continued, "often people are afraid of the truth because they do not know it. The truth as Christ revealed it is a guarantee of genuine and complete liberty for the person."
John Paul II writes that "if political action is not addressed with a higher ethical understanding, illuminated by an integral vision of man and society, it will end up being subject to inadequate ends, if not illicit ones. The truth, however, is the best antidote against ideological fanaticism in the scientific, political and even religious context."
"As experts in social disciplines and as Christians, you are called ... to indicate new paths and new solutions in order to address the urgent problems of the modern world in the best way."
"Reflection on the democratic system cannot be limited to only considering political structures and institutions," said the Pope, "it must also consider the problems posed by developments in science and technology, in the economy and in finance, as well as new laws for governing international organizations, the questions that come from progressive and rapid development in communications, in order to create a model of complete and authentic democracy."
The Pope insists that Catholics must commit themselves "to making civil society lively and dynamic by promoting the family, associations, volunteer work, etc, and by opposing improper limits and conditions imposed by the economic or political order; also they must consider once again the importance of dedication to public and institutional roles, in environments where significant collective decisions are made, and in politics, in the highest sense of the word, as desired by so many today."
"We cannot forget," concludes the Holy Father, "that knowing and putting into practice the social doctrine of the Church are characteristics of the vocation of lay people, and therefore, also their participation in the political life of the country, according to the methods and instruments of democratic systems. Some are also called to develop a special service to the civil community, directly assuming institutional role in politics."