Calling a New Generation of Catholic Politicians

Leader of Italian Bishops Considers National Scene

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ROME, JULY 20, 2010 ( A new generation of Catholic politicians must step forward and lead Italy out of the cultural crisis gripping it, says the president of the nation’s episcopal conference.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, spoke with L’Osservatore Romano about the situation of Italy and why committed Catholic lay leaders are a significant part of the solution.

The cardinal contended that there is a diminished interest in public service, while «a consensus on the common good is increasingly harder to find, [instead] each one prefers goods of little scope without any perspective whatsoever.»

In this context he called for a «new generation of Italians and Catholics who, despite the difficulties of the present culture and preparing themselves to be wise within it, regard public service as important and lofty, inasmuch as it directs everyone’s destiny.»

Catholics with that awareness, he said, «are prepared to give the best of their ideas, their initiatives and their time.»

Truly admirable

Speaking about a lack of Catholic ethics on the political scene, the cardinal proposed that the problem is beyond «political representation» and is rather «a problem of personal integrity.»

«I believe that increasingly, lay faithful are needed who are able to learn to live the mystery of God, exercising themselves in the fundamental goods of liberty, truth and conscience,» he said.

The 67-year-old prelate suggested there is a need for men and women capable of seeking a path that is not dictated by partisan convenience, but rather by God’s plan for humanity, which is capable of attracting admiration, even among those who embrace different ideologies.

Making ends meet

Cardinal Bagnasco further lamented the ongoing problem of unemployment and the consequent worries endured by the faithful

«[A]s bishop,» he said, «I see many people without work and I am disturbed by so much suffering and insecurity when it comes to reaching the end of the month.»

The prelate recognized that for some families, the economic situation has brought a positive adjustment, helping them better use resources and avoid waste. «But there is a group that had very little to save and that, objectively, is in difficulty.»

He recommended a «criterion of economic equity» with «each one having to give according to his capacity,» and said politicians must address the situation combining «political liberty, economic justice and social cohesion.»

Love of homeland

Cardinal Bagnasco also spoke of a lost sense of national unity. He said that a look at history shows the value of the «virtuous mechanism of cooperation.»

«I think that the present crisis should, therefore, stimulate Italy to rediscover herself,» he said.

Also speaking of the principle of subsidiarity, the cardinal said it is a basic tenet of Catholic social doctrine, alluded to since the times of Pope Pius XI, «to emphasize that what can be done by intermediary realities should not be attributed to the central entity.»

«In fact, the closer one is to reality, the more one can offer support with efficiency and prudence,» he explained. «Having said this, subsidiarity must be combined with solidarity to keep those who are behind from being left lagging even more.»

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