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Sunday, June 3, 2012


Vatican City, 3 June 2012 (VIS) - In the archbishopric of Milan yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father met with representatives from the civil and military authorities, industrialists and workers, and exponents of the world of culture in the Italian region of Lombardy.

Benedict XVI focused his remarks on the principles of good government as laid down by St. Ambrose who, based in Milan, governed the Roman provinces of Liguria and Aemilia in the fourth century. These principles "are still important" for leaders today, the Pope said. The first quality of people in power must be justice, "the public virtue par excellence because it concerns the good of the entire community". Justice has to be accompanied by love of freedom, something which distinguishes good governors from bad ones. "Freedom is ... a precious right which must be guaranteed by the civil authorities. However, freedom does not mean the will of the individual but the responsibility of everyone. One of the principle elements of the secular State is to ensure freedom so that everyone can present their own vision of social life, but always while respecting others and in the context of laws which seek the good of all".

In order to guarantee the common good the laws of State "must draw justification and strength from natural law, which is the foundation for a social order adapted to the dignity of the human person". An exclusively positivist view of law cannot provide ethical guidance. The State must serve and protect the individual in all aspects, "beginning with the right to life, which must never be deliberately suppressed". It is also called "to recognise the specific identity of the family, founded on marriage and open to life, and the right of parents freely to choose the education and formation of their children. ... The State fails to do justice to families if it does not support freedom of education for the good of all society", the Pope said.

The Church offers her collaboration to the State, each with their own role and their own goals, through her doctrine, traditions, institutions and activities, by virtue of which she places herself at the service of people. "Suffice it to think of the many shining figures of saints of charity, of schools and of culture, saints who cared for the sick and the marginalised with the same service and love with which we would serve and love the Lord. ... Christian communities promote these actions ... as a gratuitous superabundance of Christ's charity and of the all-embracing experience of their faith. Apart from courageous technical and political decisions, the crisis we are going through also has need of gratuitousness".

Finally Benedict XVI recalled the fact that St. Ambrose advised people in positions of power to ensure they were loved. "That which love does can never be done by fear", he said, quoting the saint. The reasons that move people to enter into public life "cannot but be", he told his audience, "the desire to dedicate yourselves to the good of citizens, and therefore a clear expression and evident sign of love. In this way politics is ennobled and becomes an exalted form of charity".

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