Pope Francis on April 27 held an audience in the Vatican with 100 presidents and representatives of the Union of the Provinces of Italy (UPI).
SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNION PROVINCES OF ITALY
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Dear sisters and brothers, good morning!
I welcome you and thank the President for the kind words with which he introduced this meeting. I also thank you for the generous offer you have made to the Apostolic Alms, as a contribution to helping the needy. This gives me the opportunity to begin my conversation with you from this perspective.
Our time is characterized by the increasingly rapid development of sophisticated technologies and the progress of scientific research in the most diverse fields. This could suggest that science, technology and the free initiative of individuals are able to effectively respond to the different needs of the person and society and to prevent the emergence of any marginality, giving life to a harmonious society, without pockets of poverty and exclusion.
The reality instead remains more complex. The increase in opportunities is matched by a parallel increase in needs to be met, in fields in which to intervene promptly, in issues that deserve consideration, with the use of huge energies and resources to identify possible solutions.
Alongside the benefits and positive developments in different sectors, imbalances and margins remain - and indeed sometimes increase - which require the intelligent and supportive commitment of all to be adequately addressed. For this purpose, both the work of groups and associations of civil society and the conscious and constant action of the different levels in which public powers are constituted is required.
The Provinces are the expression of one of these levels in which the public powers are structured, and are full of history. In fact, they arise from the aggregation of territories with a homogeneous historical and cultural fabric, which explains their longevity and suitability to represent a necessary administrative pole, even in the changing of characteristics, specific powers and also the different ways of choosing its administrators. They, by promoting the protection of local authorities at the Government, Parliament and economic and social forces, constitute a link and stimulus element for a more incisive action in favor of the needs most felt by local communities.
The areas in which the Provinces in Italy currently deploy their skills are mainly that of taking care of the interventions to defend the soil and the consolidation of the areas at risk, that of the viability of a widespread road network that connects small and very small centers with the larger cities, and the management of upper secondary schools, ensuring their safety and functionality.
It is a question, in hindsight, of tasks which, even if carried out in distinct sectors, are ultimately aimed at the same end: to ensure that the environmental conditions of the territory such as those of roads and schools do not deteriorate due to neglect, due to lack of the necessary maintenance , out of indolence in adopting the indispensable measures to avoid environmental or structural degradation and the dangers connected to it.
This overall action requires a design capacity, a constant commitment and an adequate availability of the resources necessary to carry out the tasks regularly. However, in order for this to be realized, it is necessary to promote and spread a more acute and conscious environmental sensitivity. The importance of the care of the common home understood in all its aspects must be increasingly felt, both by individual citizens and by their representatives in the institutions.
This will also make it possible to identify more means for the care of the territory and for the maintenance of buildings, seeing in this not so much a burden to bear, but rather an opportunity for concrete and real development. For an effective improvement in the quality of life, to avoid possible tragedies and their enormous human and economic costs, a consequence of negligence or unpredictability, and to ensure sustainable prospects for sustainable development, it is necessary to consider the work of maintenance and commissioning safety of schools, roads and the environment as one of the central issues to which we reserve all the attention it deserves and requires.
The Provinces, precisely because of their long history, the tendential homogeneity of their respective territories and the profile of the competences at their disposal, are particularly aware of all this.
You are well aware of the relevance for the common good of the implementation of projects and policies which, instead of favoring the abandonment or plundering of the territory, are aimed at its careful care and highlighting its potential and specific characteristics, without however to start environmental upheavals or the indiscriminate exploitation of landscape and historical-environmental resources. You are well aware of the importance of safe schools and roads for the smooth progress of civil life and as an indispensable background to any orderly development. You know how consistent savings can be and the consequent economic advantage for a community if it finds the wisdom to invest money and human resources to prevent disruptions, dysfunctions and degradation.
I cannot, therefore, wish all of you to continue with courage and determination in your work, so as to make the Provinces a garrison and a propelling center of a mentality that knows how to set itself the objective of a truly sustainable development, entering into harmony in the immense network of relationships and achievements created by nature, history, work and the ingenuity of the generations that preceded us.
Thank you, thank you all for this meeting. I pray for you, and don't forget to pray for me. Thank you.
FULL TEXT + Image Share from Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation