Pope Francis says in Politics One Cannot Live a "private faith" but Must have "courage to make proposals for justice and peace in the public debate.”

“Generali Convention Center” Congress Center in Trieste

This morning, leaving Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father Francis moved to the Vatican heliport from where, at 6.30 am, he left to go on a Pastoral Visit to Trieste on the occasion of the 50th Social Week of Catholics in Italy, underway since 3 to 7 July on the theme “At the heart of democracy. Participating between history and future”.
Upon his arrival, at 7.54 am, after landing at the “Generali Convention Center”, the Pope was welcomed by His Eminence Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bologna, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, by SELF. Mons. Luigi Renna, Archbishop of Catania, President of the Organizing Committee of the Social Weeks, by H.E. Mons. Enrico Trevisi, Bishop of Trieste, by the Hon. Massimiliano Fedriga, President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, by H.E. Mr. Pietro Signoriello, Prefect of Trieste, by Mr. Roberto Dipiazza, Mayor of Trieste, and by Doctor Philippe Donnet, CEO of “Generali”.
Then the Pope moved inside the Congress Center, where he met the approximately 1,200 Congress participants at the conclusion of the work of the 50th Social Week of Catholics in Italy.
After the greeting address by His Eminence Card. Matteo Maria Zuppi and the introduction by H.E. Monsignor Luigi Renna, the Holy Father gave his speech.
At the end of the speech, while the participants in the Social Week of Catholics in Italy moved to Piazza Unità d'Italia for the celebration of the Holy Mass, Pope Francis met briefly with some Ecumenical Representatives, the Academic World and a group of Migrants and Disabled .
Sunday, July 7, 2024
FULL TEXT Address of Pope Francis : Distinguished Authorities,
dear brother Bishops,
Dear Cardinals,
brothers and sisters, good morning!
I thank Cardinal Zuppi and Monsignor Baturi for inviting me to share this final session with you. I greet Monsignor Renna and the Scientific and Organizing Committee of the Social Weeks. On behalf of everyone I express gratitude to Monsignor Trevisi for the welcome of the Diocese of Trieste.
The first time I heard about Trieste was from my grandfather who had done the '14 on the Piave. He taught us many songs and one was about Trieste: "General Cadorna wrote to the queen: 'If you want to look at Trieste, look at it on a postcard'". And this is the first time I've heard of the city.
This was the 50th Social Week. The history of the "Weeks" is intertwined with the history of Italy, and this already says a lot: it says of a Church sensitive to the transformations of society and aimed at contributing to the common good. Strengthened by this experience, you wanted to delve deeper into a highly topical topic: “At the heart of democracy. Participating between history and future”.
Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo, who started this initiative in 1907, stated that democracy can be defined as «that civil order in which all social, legal and economic forces, in the fullness of their hierarchical development, cooperate proportionally to the common good , flowing in the last result to the prevailing advantage of the lower classes" [1]. That's what Toniolo said. In light of this definition, it is clear that in today's world democracy, let's face it, is not in good health. This interests and worries us, because the good of man is at stake, and nothing that is human can be alien to us [2].
In Italy the democratic system matured after the Second World War, thanks also to the decisive contribution of Catholics. We can be proud of this story, which was also influenced by the experience of the Social Weeks; and, without mythologizing the past, we must learn from it to take on the responsibility of building something good in our time. This attitude is found in the Pastoral Note with which the Italian Episcopate reinstated the Social Weeks in 1988. I quote the aims: «To give meaning to everyone's commitment to the transformation of society; give attention to the people who remain outside or on the margins of successful economic processes and mechanisms; give space to social solidarity in all its forms; give support to the return of a solicitous ethics of the common good [...]; give meaning to the development of the country, understood [...] as a global improvement in the quality of life, collective coexistence, democratic participation, authentic freedom" [3]. End quote.
This vision, rooted in the Social Doctrine of the Church, embraces some dimensions of Christian commitment and an evangelical reading of social phenomena which are not only valid for the Italian context, but represent a warning for the entire human society and for the journey of all peoples. In fact, just as the crisis of democracy cuts across different realities and nations, in the same way the attitude of responsibility towards social transformations is a call addressed to all Christians, wherever they live and work, in every part of the world.
There is an image that summarizes all of this and that you have chosen as the symbol of this appointment: the heart. Starting from this image, I propose two reflections to fuel the future path.
In the first we can imagine the crisis of democracy as a wounded heart. What limits participation is before our eyes. If construction and intelligence show a "heart attack" heart, the various forms of social exclusion must also be of concern. Every time someone is marginalized, the entire social body suffers. The culture of waste creates a city where there is no place for the poor, the unborn, the fragile, the sick, children, women, young people, the old. This is the throwaway culture. Power becomes self-referential - this is a bad disease - incapable of listening and serving people. Aldo Moro recalled that «a State is not truly democratic if it is not at the service of man, if it does not have as its supreme goal the dignity, freedom, autonomy of the human person, if it is not respectful of those social formations in which the human person develops freely and in which he integrates his own personality" [4]. The word “democracy” itself does not simply coincide with the vote of the people; in the meantime, I am worried about the small number of people who went to vote. What does that mean? It is not just the vote of the people, but it requires that the conditions be created so that everyone can express themselves and participate. And participation cannot be improvised: it is learned as children, as young people, and must be "trained", also in the critical sense with respect to ideological and populist temptations. In this perspective, as I had the opportunity to recall years ago when visiting the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, it is important to highlight «the contribution that Christianity can provide today to European cultural and social development in the context of a correct relationship between religion and society" [5], promoting a fruitful dialogue with the civil community and with political institutions because, by enlightening each other and freeing ourselves from the waste of ideology, we can start a common reflection especially on issues related to human life and to the dignity of the person.
Ideologies are seductive. Some compared them to the one who played the flute in Hamelin; they seduce, but they lead you to drown yourself.
To this end, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity remain fruitful. In fact, a people is held together by the bonds that constitute it, and the bonds are strengthened when each one is valued. Every person has value; every person is important. Democracy always requires the transition from taking sides to participating, from "cheering" to dialogue. «As long as our economic-social system still produces one victim and there is only one person discarded, there cannot be a celebration of universal brotherhood. A human and fraternal society is able to work to ensure in an efficient and stable way that everyone is accompanied on the path of their life, not only to provide for primary needs, but so that they can give the best of themselves, even if their performance does not will be the best, even if they go slowly, even if their efficiency is not very relevant" [6]. Everyone must feel part of a community project; no one should feel useless. Certain forms of welfare that do not recognize the dignity of people... I will stop at the word welfare. Welfarism, in this way alone, is the enemy of democracy, it is the enemy of love for others. And certain forms of welfare that do not recognize the dignity of people are social hypocrisy. Let's not forget this. And what is behind this distancing from social reality? There is indifference, and indifference is a cancer of democracy, a failure to participate.
The second reflection is an encouragement to participate, so that democracy resembles a healed heart. It is this: I like to think that in social life it is very necessary to heal hearts, to heal hearts. A healed heart. And for this we need to exercise creativity. If we look around, we see many signs of the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of families and communities. Even in the fields of economics, ideology, politics and society. Let's think about those who have made space within an economic activity for people with disabilities; to workers who have renounced their right to prevent the dismissal of others; to renewable energy communities that promote integral ecology, also taking care of families in energy poverty; to administrators who favor birthrates, work, school, educational services, accessible homes, mobility for all, the integration of migrants. All these things do not fit into a politics without participation. The heart of politics is participation. And these are the things that participation does, a taking care of everything; not just charity, taking care of this…, no: completely!
Fraternity makes social relationships flourish; and on the other hand, caring for each other requires the courage to think of ourselves as a people. It takes courage to think of yourself as a people and not as me or my clan, my family, my friends. Unfortunately, this category – “people” – is often misinterpreted and «could lead to the elimination of the very word “democracy” (“government of the people”). Nonetheless, to affirm that society is more than the mere sum of individuals, the term "people" is necessary" [7], which is not populism. No, it's something else: the people. In fact, «it is very difficult to plan something big in the long term if it doesn't become a collective dream» [8]. A democracy with a healed heart continues to cultivate dreams for the future, puts it into play, calls for personal and community involvement. Dreaming of the future. Do not be afraid.
Let's not be fooled by easy solutions. Let us instead be passionate about the common good. We have the task of not manipulating the word democracy or distorting it with titles empty of content, capable of justifying any action. Democracy is not an empty box, but is linked to the values ​​of the person, of fraternity and also of integral ecology.
As Catholics, in this horizon, we cannot be satisfied with a marginal or private faith. This means not so much being listened to, but above all having the courage to make proposals for justice and peace in the public debate. We have something to say, but not to defend privileges. No. We must be a voice, a voice that denounces and proposes in an often voiceless society where too many have no voice. Many, many have no voice. Many. This is political love [9], which is not satisfied with treating the effects but tries to address the causes. This is political love. It is a form of charity that allows politics to live up to its responsibilities and get away from polarizations, these polarizations that impoverish and do not help to understand and face the challenges. The entire Christian community is called to this political charity, in the distinction of ministries and charisms. Let us train ourselves in this love, to put it into circulation in a world that is short of civil passion. We must resume the civil passion, this, of the great politicians we have known. Let us learn more and better to walk together as the people of God, to be a leaven of participation among the people of which we are part. And this is an important thing in our political action, even of our pastors: knowing the people, getting closer to the people. A politician can be like a shepherd who goes before the people, among the people and behind the people. In front of the people to point out the path a little; among the people, to have the flavor of the people; behind the people to help the stragglers. A politician who doesn't have an eye for the people is a theorist. He misses the boss.
Giorgio La Pira had thought about the protagonism of cities, which do not have the power to wage wars but which pay the highest price for them. Thus he imagined a system of "bridges" between the cities of the world to create opportunities for unity and dialogue. Following the example of La Pira, the Italian Catholic laity must not lack this ability to "organise hope". This is your job, to organize. Also organize peace and good political projects that can arise from below. Why not relaunch, support and multiply efforts for social and political education that starts with young people? Why not share the richness of the social teaching of the Church? We can provide places for discussion and dialogue and promote synergies for the common good. If the synodal process has trained us in community discernment, the horizon of the Jubilee sees us active, pilgrims of hope, for the Italy of tomorrow. As disciples of the Risen One, we never stop nurturing trust, certain that time is superior to space. Let's not forget this. Many times we think that political work is about taking up space: no! It's betting on time, starting processes, not taking places. Time is superior to space and let's not forget that starting processes is wiser than occupying spaces. I recommend that you, in your social life, have the courage to start trials, always. It is creativity and also it is the law of life. A woman, when she gives birth to a child, begins to start a process and accompanies him. We too in politics must do the same.
 This is the role of the Church: to involve in hope, because without it the present is administered but the future cannot be built. Without hope, we would be administrators, tightrope walkers of the present and not prophets and builders of the future.
Brothers and sisters, I thank you for your commitment. I bless you and wish you to be artisans of democracy and contagious witnesses of participation. And please I ask you to pray for me, because this work is not easy. Thank you.
Now, let's pray together and I will give you the blessing.
Recitation of the Our Father.

[1] G. Toniolo, Democrazia cristiana. Concetti e indirizzi, I, Città del Vaticano 1949, 29.

[2] Cfr Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Cost. past. Gaudium et spes, 1.

[3] Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, Ripristino e rinnovamento delle Settimane Sociali dei cattolici italiani, 20 novembre 1988, n. 4.

[4] A. Moro, Il fine è l’uomo, Edizioni di Comunità, Roma 2018, 25.

[5] Discorso al Consiglio d’Europa, Strasburgo, 25 novembre 2014.

[6] Lett. enc. Fratelli tutti, 110.

[7] Ivi, 157.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ivi, 180-182.