Pope's Address to Prefects of Several Italian Cities

«The Church, being a divine and human reality, works in society at the service of persons on the basis of Christs teaching»

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Pope Francis received in audience — in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace –, the Prefects of several Italian cities, and delivered the following address:

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Distinguished Prefects,</p>

I receive you all with pleasure, who have the delicate task of rendering present, in a capillary way, the authority of the central government on the territory of the State, in particular in regard to the safeguarding of order and public security.

I thank the Minister of the Interior for the kind words he addressed to me in your name. Your institution, through its different competencies, its long historical experience and it widespread presence in the local communities, represents an important factor of cohesion —  as the Minister recalled opportunely –, interpreting in the various territorial realities the coordinating entities that come from the center, and finds itself at the same time in conditions adapted to pointing out to the central authorities situations of particular difficulty or marginalization, making voices heard that otherwise would risk remaining weak and deprived of due attention.

It is a work that implies tenacious dedication to one’s duties, profound knowledge of the problems, joined to the flexibility necessary to address the innumerable practical cases that present themselves, each one with its own particularity. In these years, characterized by the particular incidence of the migratory movement, linked to the increase in the world of violent conflicts, with their tragic consequences on the persons and economies of so many countries, your competence as prefects in the matter of immigration is one of particular sensitivity. It entails the need to single out, in the daily management of the situations — often of emergency, that correct application of norms that guarantees, together with fidelity to the dictate of the law and other dispositions in force, the scrupulous respect of the fundamental rights of every human person. And here, referring back to what the Minister said, I would like to express recognition for your profuse commitment, Prefects, in coordinating the reception of the thousands of men, women and children that arrive on the Italian coasts. On this subject, as in many others, of notable help are the relations of profitable collaboration between the Prefectures, the Dioceses and the parishes, a collaboration that, in respect of the different competencies, merits being confirmed, appreciated and deepened.

The Church, being a divine and human reality, works in society at the service of persons on the basis of Christ’s teaching and, desiring to carry out her educational and charitable mission in sincere collaboration with the institutions of the State for the promotion of man and the good of the country, is happy to find in the Prefectures one of the areas in which this synergy is concretized in the main for the good of all the citizens.

On the other hand, for the full efficacy of your task of connection, of listening and of search for solutions adapted to the circumstances, in tune with other local institutions and those at the central level, a specific exercise of authority is rendered indispensable, rooted in obedience and having the sole noble end of service. Obedience to the law and to the criteria of humanity that inform it, and loyalty to the institutions, constitute the indispensable framework in which your function is carried out. Such attitudes foster the acquisition of the specific habitus that renders ideal the assumption of high responsibilities. The crisis of authority that our society experiences in different realms, both public as well as private, with consequences of great moment, especially for the education of the young generations, has, in fact, among its causes the lack of these fundamental dispositions to obedience, to listening and to patience. Moreover, the exercise of authority always has the objective of obtaining the common good, finding its most profound raison d’etre and the possibility itself of its efficacy by putting oneself daily at the service of those to whom its power is directed, in imitation of what the Lord Jesus did, who came among us as One who serves (Cf. Luke 22:27).

The more the citizens perceive that the constituted powers are generally bent on trying to offer answers to their needs and to protect their rights, the more they will be disposed to accept indications and to dispose themselves to an active and ordered spirit of collaboration and respect. Therefore, you are called to put at the disposition of your professionalism and your humanity, your knowledge and your prudence, without discouragements or pessimisms, knowing, however, that you are not faced with abstract questions but with the concrete faces of men and women with their problems and their hopes, which in these years of uncertainty and economic difficulties have become even more impelling. I am sure that your sense of duty, and your awareness of the importance of your role, will help you to address future commitments in the best way, with dedication and a spirit of sacrifice.

With these wishes, while I invoke upon you the intercession of your Patron, Saint Ambrose, I ask you, please, to pray for me and I wholeheartedly bless you.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT] 

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