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Monday, March 14, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received members of the National Association of Italian Local Authorities.

  In his address to them, the Pope highlighted how "the multiplicity of subjects and of situations is not incompatible with the unity of the nation, which is being reaffirmed by this 150th anniversary currently being celebrated. Unity and plurality are, at various levels including the ecclesial level, values which enrich one another, if the right reciprocal balance is maintained.

  "Two principles which facilitate the harmonious joint presence of unity and plurality are subsidiarity and solidarity, typical of the social teaching of the Church. This social doctrine has as its objective truths which are not only part of the heritage of believers, but rationally knowable by all people".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "these principles must also be applied at the level of local administration, in a dual sense: in the dealings local authorities have with the public offices of State, region and province, and in their relationship with social and intermediary organisations present in their territory. ... These include numerous ecclesial formations, such as parishes, oratories, religious houses, and Catholic institutions of education and assistance. My hope is that this vital activity may always find adequate appreciation and support, also in financial terms".

  The Holy Father continued: "On this subject I would like to reiterate the fact that the Church seeks no privileges, but wishes only to be able to perform her mission freely, requesting effective respect for religious liberty. In Italy, such liberty facilitates the collaboration which exists between civil and ecclesial communities. Unfortunately, in other countries Christian minorities are often victims of discrimination and persecution", he said.

  The Pope also highlighted the importance of the word "citizenship", which the members of the association have chosen to emphasise in their work. "Citizenship today", he remarked, "must be placed in the context of globalisation which is characterised, among other things, by great migratory flows. Faced with this situation solidarity must be associated with respect for the law, so as to ensure that social coexistence is not disrupted, and that consideration is given to legal principles and to the cultural and religious tradition from which Italy draws its origins. This need is more deeply felt by you who, as local administrators, are closer to people's daily lives. At all times you are required to show particular dedication in your public service to citizens, in order to promote collaboration, solidarity and humanity.

  "History", the Pope added in conclusion, "has left us examples of mayors who through their prestige and dedication have marked the lives of their communities. Mention has rightly been made of Giorgio La Pira, an exemplary Christian and respected public administrator. May this tradition continue to produce fruits for the good of the country and its citizens".
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