On the occasion of the 45th Social Week, which is being held this week in the Italian cities of Pistoia and Pisa, Pope Benedict sent a message to the head of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco. The Holy Father asserted in his letter that respect for life and the protection of marriage and the family are not just Catholic values, they are human values.
The theme for this year’s Social Week is: “The common good today: a commitment that comes from afar." The Pope affirmed that this theme "still maintains all its importance.”
The pontiff spoke directly to lay men and women about their role in society saying that they must “work for a correct ordering of society ... and to cooperate in the just organization of social life together with all other citizens, each according to their skills and under their own autonomous responsibility."
Countering the assertion by some segments of society that marriage, the family and the right to life are solely religious issues, Pope Benedict XVI reasoned that "[t]hese are not just 'Catholic' values and principles, but shared human values to be protected and safeguarded, like justice, peace and the defense of creation."
He went on to say that "respect for life and the attention that must be given to the needs of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman," are issues that cannot be ignored.
In Italian society, one concrete situation where the family must be protected and promoted is job security. "[W]hen lack of job-security does not allow young people to build their own family, the authentic and complete development of society is seriously compromised," the Pope said.
The Pope invited Italian Catholics to respond to these challenges "not by giving up and withdrawing into themselves but, on the contrary, with renewed dynamism, opening themselves trustingly to new relationships and not neglecting any of the energies capable of contributing to cultural and moral growth."