Italian Bishops Address Mafia Problems

Document Discusses Need for Solidarity and Subsidiarity

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ROME, FEB. 25, 2010 ( The Italian bishops’ conference published a document calling for attention and resolution to the problems in the South of their country that proliferate organized Mafia crime.

The document, «For a Country of Solidarity: The Italian Church and Southern Italy,» was published Wednesday.

With this publication, the bishops marked the 20-year anniversary of release of a similar document, «Development in Solidarity: The Italian Church and Southern Italy.» They noted their intent to take up once again the reflection on the path of solidarity in their country, with particular attention to the South of Italy and its unresolved problems.
The document highlighted in particular one of the «most profound and lasting plagues» of the South, considered to be a veritable «cancer:» the Mafia, in its many declensions and ramifications, which has now been transformed into «structures of sin.»
«It is not possible to mobilize Southern Italy without its being freed from those chains that do not allow it to release its own energies,» the conference stated.

It lamented the «mafias that poison social life, pervert the mind and heart of so many young people, suffocate the economy and deform the authentic face of the South.»
«Organized crime cannot and must not dictate the times and rhythms of the southern economy and politics,» the bishops asserted, «becoming the privileged place of every type of intermediation and putting in crisis the democratic system of the country.»
They continued, «The criminal control of the territory leads in fact to a strong limitation, if not actually to the deprivation, of the state authority and that of public entities, favoring the increase of corruption, of collusion and of extortion, altering the labor market, manipulating contracts, interfering in urban choices and in the system of authorizations and concessions, thus contaminating the entire national territory.»

Sick economy
The prelates decried the diffusion of cultural norms «that allows them to regenerate themselves,» such as «false honorableness,» «widespread conspiracy of silence» and «a lack of civic sense.» They explained that these make a fertile ground for a sick economy that cannot be simply pinned on the phenomenon of the Mafia, but which is also made up of usury, extortion, tax evasion and black labor.
They underlined the necessity of «a precise educational intervention, from the early years of age, to avoid seeing a Mafioso (member of the Mafia) as a model to imitate.»
The document asserted, «Only the decision to be converted and to reject a Mafia mentality enables one to really come out of it and, if necessary, to suffer violence and be immolated.»

It mentioned in particular the example of figures such as Father Pino Puglisi, Father Giuseppe Diana and Judge Rosario Livatino, who were all killed for openly challenging corruption and organized crime in Southern Italy.
The document expressed the hope that these problems could be aided by emphasizing subsidiarity along with solidarity, so as not to fall into social particularism or welfarism.
«The prospect of re-articulating the country’s order in the federal sense would be a defeat for everyone, if federalism accentuated the distance between the different parts of Italy,» it noted.
«Instead,» the document added, «it could represent a step toward a substantial democracy if it succeeded in fitting recognition of the merit of those who operate with dedication and correctness within ‘team play.'»
It affirmed, «Such a federalism — with solidarity, realism and unity — would reinforce the unity of the country, renewing the way of concurrence on the part of the different regional realities, in the awareness of the growing interdependence of a globalized world.»

Quality of service
The document underlined the need to improve «the system of social relations, above all through the action of regional and municipal governments in making themselves directly responsible for the quality of services given to citizens, acting on the management of the fiscal levy.»
The problems in the South require emphasis on «national solidarity,» «courageous criticism of deficiencies,» «the need to make the civic sense grow in the whole population,» and «the urgency to overcome the inadequacies present in the ruling classes,» the prelates stated.
They expressed the hope that «the people of the South will be the protagonists of their own rescue,» but they added that «this does not dispense the whole nation from the duty of solidarity,» and from the duty to «share.»
The document stated that the development problem in Southern Italy is rooted in a more profound dimension, of an ethical, cultural and anthropological character.
In this perspective, it added, the educational question is an «inescapable priority.» It underlined the need to form a «culture of goodness, of citizenship, of law, of good administration and of healthy enterprise in the rejection of illegality.»
Therefore, the bishops called on young people to be the first to witness «liberty in and of Southern Italy.»

They underlined the need for «a pastoral action that looks to cancel the gap between religious practice and civil life and that drives to a more profound knowledge of the social teaching of the Church.»

This, the prelates affirmed, «will help to marry the proclamation of the Gospel with the testimony of works of justice and solidarity.»

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