Pope Benedict XVI has called Catholics in Italy back to the Church's "inheritance of values" to face the future creatively. To work for the common good, he asked them to enter the political sphere "with humility and determination."
The Holy Father made the appeal in his message to those taking part in the 46th celebration of the "Social Week for Italian Catholics," promoted by the Italian Bishops' Conference and inaugurated Oct. 14 in the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria. The four-day encounter, attended by more than 1,200 representatives from all 227 Italian Catholic dioceses, aims to look at "an agenda of hope for the future of the country."
In light of the economic, social and cultural problems that afflict the nation, he called first for support for families, which have an "unsubstitutible social function" in educating children for the future. He then appealed for a new generation of Catholics, people who are renewed internally, to work in politics “without inferiority complexes,” and for the common good of all.
The presence of such Catholic politicians will not come about in an improvised manner, he said, but it will require an intellectual and moral formation that, “beginning with the great truths about God, man and the world, offers criteria of judgment and ethical principles to interpret the good of each and every person.”
The "common good," he clarified, is "that which builds and qualifies the city of men, the fundamental criteria of social and political life, the aim of human activity and progress.” It is rooted in the 'requirements of justice and charity,' the promotion of respect of rights of individuals and peoples, as well as relations characterized by the logic of giving."
Underscoring the importance of the formation of mature individuals for these tasks, he went on to underscore the "high vocation" of socio-political involvement, "to which the Church invites [people] to respond with humility and determination."
In applying themselves to areas such as the acceptance and integration of immigrants and social justice for all, he encouraged Catholic to "rise up to the challenge placed before them.
"The Catholic Church," he wrote, "has an inheritance of values that are not things of the past, but constitute a very alive and actual reality, capable of offering a creative orientation for the future of a nation."