(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday paid his first official visit to Italy’s head of state, Giorgio Napolitano, at Rome’s Quirinale Palace where he also met leading members of the Italian government. In his address to President Napolitano, the Pope touched on the social and economic problems afflicting Italy such as unemployment and urged the state institutions to do their utmost to support the family. He also said he would like to knock at the door of every home in Italy to offer the healing words of the gospel.
Pope Francis visited President Napolitano at Rome’s Quirinale, a Renaissance Palace, which up until 1870 had been a residency of the papacy for many centuries. His visit to the Italian head of State came 5 months after President Napolitano was received in audience by him at the Vatican.
In his address to Napolitano, Pope Francis said his visit confirmed the excellent relations that exist between Italy and the Holy See and recalled his predecessor’s visit to the Quirinale Palace in 2008. "Ideally," said the Pope, "I would wish to knock at the door of every inhabitant of Italy and offer to everybody the healing and ever new words of the Gospel."
Pope Francis said in their separate roles both Church and State share many common concerns such as the economic crisis and the resulting lack of jobs which he described as "one of its most painful consequences." He urged everyone to redouble their efforts to alleviate the consequences of this.
"The Church’s main task," the Pope continued, "is to bear witness to God’s mercy and to encourage a generous response of solidarity." In this way, we can help build a more just and humane society and promote a sustainable and healthy development.
Recalling his pastoral visits to the islands of Lampedusa and Sardinia and to the city of Assisi, the Pope said that in all these places he witnessed and touched with his hands "the wounds" that afflict so many suffering people.
Turning to the family, the Pope urged everyone to support the family unit, saying it needs to be "appreciated, valued and protected" so it can carry out its vital mission in society. He ended by expressing his hope that "Italy can recover its creativity and harmony" so it can promote the well-being and dignity of every human person.
In his own address, President Napolitano praised Pope Francis for his desire to carry out "a dialogue with everyone, even opponents and those who are most distant," saying the spirit of the Second Vatican Council vibrates in his words. Napolitano also spoke of the need to counter a spreading egoism and social insensitivity and said politics need to be freed from the plague of corruption and the promotion of personal interests.
SHARED FROM RADIO VATICANA