ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MAGISTRATED NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
Hall of the Consistory
Saturday, 9 February 2019
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I extend a cordial greeting to you, to your President, whom I thank for his words, to the Central Steering Committee and to the entire National Magistrates Association. It takes one hundred and ten years: an occasion that becomes an occasion for recognition and budget, a moment in which you can confirm your intentions and recalibrate your goals, in the light of the changed context.
For over a century, through initiatives of a cultural, welfare and social security, the National Magistrates Association supervises the proper functioning of the delicate and precious function of the magistrate. At the same time it fulfills an important task of monitoring democratic rules and promoting constitutional values, at the service of the common good. By promoting these values, through internal debate and press releases, national congresses, the magazine and dialogue with the institutions, you make a significant contribution to the most relevant issues concerning the administration of justice. The membership of your Association of about 90% of Italian magistrates makes you privileged interlocutors, in particular for the legislative bodies of the State, because it allows you to draw on a wide range of professional experiences, giving you a direct knowledge of the life of citizens and of its critical points.
We live in a context crossed by tensions and lacerations, which risk weakening the very estate of the social fabric and weaken the civic consciousness of many, with a withdrawal into the private that often generates disinterest and becomes a breeding ground for illegality. The claim of a multiplicity of rights, up to those of third and fourth generation connected to new technologies, is often accompanied by a poor perception of their duties and a widespread insensitivity to the primary rights of many, even multitudes of people. For these reasons, it should be reaffirmed with constancy and determination, in attitudes and practices, the primary value of justice, indispensable for the proper functioning of every area of public life and for everyone to lead a serene life.
The philosophical tradition presents justice as a cardinal virtue, and the cardinal virtue par excellence, because the others also contribute to its realization: prudence, which helps to apply the general principles of justice to specific situations; fortress and temperance, which perfects its attainment. Justice is therefore a virtue, that is, an internal dress of the subject: not an occasional dress or to be worn for parties, but a dress that must always be worn, because it covers and envelops you, influencing not only concrete choices, but also intentions and intentions. And it is cardinal virtue, because it indicates the right direction and, like a pivotal point of reference, it is a point of support and junction. Without justice, all social life remains jammed, like a door that can no longer open up, or ends up grinding and creaking in a muddled movement.
Therefore, all the positive energies present in the social body must contribute to the attainment of justice, because it, in charge of making each one his own, is the main requirement for achieving peace. To you, magistrates, justice is entrusted in a very special way, because not only do you practice it with alacrity, but you also promote it without tiring; it is not in fact an order already realized to be preserved, but a goal towards which to strive every day.
I am aware of the many difficulties you encounter in your daily service, hampered in its effectiveness by the lack of resources for the maintenance of the structures and for the recruitment of personnel, and by the increasing complexity of legal situations. Every day you must then deal with the overabundance of laws, which can cause overlap or conflict between different laws, old and new, national and supranational; and, on the other, with legislative gaps in some important issues, including those relating to the beginning and the end of life, to family law and the complex reality of immigrants. These critical issues require the magistrate to assume responsibility that goes beyond his normal duties, and demands that he establishes the events and pronounces themselves on them with even greater accuracy.
In a time in which so often the truth is counterfeited, and we are almost overwhelmed by a whirlwind of fleeting information, it is necessary that you be the first to affirm the superiority of reality on the idea (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 233); in fact, "reality is simply, [while] the idea is elaborated" (ibid., 231). Your commitment to ascertaining the reality of the facts, even if made more difficult by the amount of work entrusted to you, is therefore always punctual, accurately reported, based on an in-depth study and on a continuous updating effort. It will be able to make use of the dialogue with the various extra-juridical knowledge, to better understand the changes taking place in society and in people's lives, and be able to implement with skill, where necessary, an evolutionary interpretation of the laws, on the basis of fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution.
In a social context in which more and more is perceived as normal, without any scandal, the search for individual interest even at the expense of the collective, you are called to offer a sign of disinterested dedication that your Statute recalls from its first article , and made possible by the important prerogative of independence, which has always been guarded as a National Association. External independence, which leads to firm affirmation of its non-political character (cf. Statute, article 2), keeps away favoritism and currents from you, which pollute choices, relations and appointments; and internal independence (cf. Statute, article 1), instead, frees you from seeking personal advantages, capable of rejecting "pressure, signaling or direct solicitation to unduly influence the timing and methods of administration of justice" (Statute, art. . 2).
Precisely the times and the ways in which justice is administered touch the living flesh of people, especially those most in need, and leave signs of relief and consolation in it, or wounds of forgetfulness and discrimination. Therefore, in your precious task of discernment and judgment, always try to respect the dignity of every person, "without discrimination and prejudices of sex, culture, ideology, race, religion" (Statute, Article 9). Your gaze on those you are called to judge is always a look of goodness. "In fact, mercy always has the best in judgment" (Letter of James 2:13), teaches us the Bible, reminding us that a careful look at the person and his needs is able to grasp the truth in an even more authentic way. The justice that you administer becomes increasingly "inclusive", attentive to the last and to their integration: in fact, having to give everyone what is due to him, he can not forget the extreme weakness that affects the lives of many and influences their choices.
The high moral concern, expressed with clarity from your Code of Ethics, always animate your action, because you are more than officials, but models in front of all citizens and especially towards younger people. For this I congratulate you because you remember the magistrates who suffered and lost their lives in the faithful performance of their duties. To each of them I also address a particular and grateful memory today.
The Lord blesses all of you, your work and your families. Thank you.