.- As the Christian Associations of Italian Workers began its 60th anniversary celebrations, Pope Benedict XVI told members of the group, gathered today at the Vatican, that only in the search for truth, true human dignity, and the value of workers over capital, will true democracy be able to flourish.
the Pope received the president and leaders of ACLI, the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its foundation.
The Pope shaped his address by speaking on each of the three directives which the association is historically committed to.
Noting the first of these, "faithfulness to workers," he pointed out that the Magisterium of the Church has always highlighted the human dimension of work, without overlooking "the commandment of rest. To insist, then, that Sunday does not become like all the other days of the week, is to take a stand in favor of civilization."
The Pope continued, saying that "From the primacy of the ethical dimension of human work arise other priorities: that of man over work, of work over capital, of the universal destination of wealth over the right to private property; in brief, the priority of being over having."
He pointed out that in the modern world, science and technology "present huge possibilities for improving everyone's lives," but warned that "the misguided use of such power can provoke grave and irreparable threats to the future of life itself."
"The defense of life - from conception to natural end - wherever it is threatened, offended or trampled underfoot, is the primary duty of an authentic ethic of responsibility, and this may be coherently extended to all other forms of poverty, injustice and exclusion," Benedict said.
He then discussed the organization’s second directive, "faithfulness to democracy," saying that "It alone can guarantee equality of rights for all. ...Justice is the testing ground of true democracy.”
“That said,” the Holy Father pointed out, “it should not be forgotten that the search for truth constitutes the essential condition for a real, not merely an apparent, democracy. 'As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism'."
Speaking on the third directive, "faithfulness to the Church.,” Benedict said that “Only a willing and passionate adherence to the [Church] can guarantee the identity necessary to ensure a presence in all areas of society and the world, without losing the flavor and fragrance of the Gospel."
The Pope then charged the group. "As lay people and associated Christian workers…always take care over the formation of your members and leaders, with a view to the special service to which you are called.”
“Remain courageously present”, he stressed, “in all crucial areas of social life."