Italian government honors John Paul II, Pope Benedict commends ‘serene relations’ between Church and State

Italian government honors John Paul II, Pope Benedict commends ‘serene relations’ between Church and State


Yesterday morning, the Italian parliament commemorated a visit made by the late John Paul II three years ago to the body and with various government leaders.

During the celebration, a plaque was unveiled to remember the late Pope's meeting with Italian deputies and senators, held on November 14, 2002. On that occasion, John Paul invoked divine blessings on the government.In response, John Paul’s predicessor, Pope Benedict XVI sent a special Message to Pier Ferdinando Casini, president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies to mark the occasion.

Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State read the message in the place of the Pope during the ceremony."The visit of my beloved predecessor to the Italian parliament," wrote the Pope, "was without precedent, and was made possible through the consolidation of a serene vision of relations between Church and State…”Benedict said that “in the awareness - as the Pontiff said in his address - of the 'highly positive results' which over the course of time these relations have brought both to the Church and to the Italian nation."

The message continued: "On this happy anniversary, then, all that remains to me to do is to express the hope that this spirit of sincere and loyal collaboration may become ever deeper.” “In assuring the Holy See's constant commitment to this end,” he said, “I would like once more to stress that the Church - in Italy, in all other countries, and in the various international organizations - does not intend to claim any privilege for herself, but only to secure the opportunity to carry out her mission, with respect for the legitimate lay nature of the State.” “This,” he pointed out, “if well understood, does not contrast with the Christian message, rather it is indebted thereto, as scholars of the history of civilizations know well.

"Pope Benedict concluded his message by calling on members of parliament to remember John Paul II, "drawing real inspiration from his teachings and promoting the formation of the human person, culture, the family, schools and full and dignified employment, with careful attention for the weakest and for old and new forms of poverty."