We should not give in to discouragement.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of the northern Italian port city of Genoa and President of the CCEE, stressed this when speaking to journalists on Sept. 14, including Zenit, in Poznan, Poland, who were on the ground for the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) taking place, Sept. 13-16.
He was reflecting on the tragic Morandi Bridge collapse that took place in his port city about a month earlier, on Aug. 14, 2018, killing 43, injuring hundreds, and causing many to lose their homes.
Cardinal Bagnasco stressed that a safe and fast reaction is urgent. “This is not some highway, this was the primary bridge connecting one part of the city to the other,” he said, pointing out it was not even just important for Italian transport, but for northern Europe.
This tragedy, he noted, “challenges Italy to show what it is capable of.”
There are 600 people, 250 families displaced, he noted. All is being done to get them settled in a year but in the meantime, many are working to give them temporary living situations.
He noted that for the one-month anniversary there was a Mass in the Cathedral with all the city’s regional authorities taking part.
Still, he stressed, there is a “continuous sense of suffering, pain, and confusion for what happened, and proximity to the families of the victims and displaced persons.” At the same time, he added, “we are very grateful to all those people who have been helping at all levels.”
“This solidarity and closeness is a great asset because there is the will to move forward, to overcome the difficulty. But this patrimony of trust and hope must not be dispersed,” he said, noting this means that on everyone’s part, there must be “the determination for concrete and safe objectives.”
“First and foremost to ensure housing, an objective that we are trying to achieve and for which the Church of Genoa is also collaborating.” These efforts will take a year’s time, he said, noting they hope for even less.
“Our priests are present near the people especially in the most wounded district, so that hope does not fail and they can avoid discouragement. It would be the destruction of the future. And keep in mind the desire for displaced persons to stay in their neighborhood.”
“The bridge was not just a piece of the highway but a city street, the quickest way that connected the city from one side to the other. For the people, that was the quickest route that proved to be insecure and tragic. This artery must absolutely be rebuilt as soon as possible, in a very short time,” and with the right and safe materials, providing maximum safety.
“The bridge is not of Genoa, but is of Italy,” he said. “We must not forget that Genoa has been under the astonished gaze of the whole world for several days. This look of attention towards Genoa is also a look of expectation, to see what Italy is capable of doing.”
“The institutions are also aware of this challenge that is not national or national pride, but it is above all the best way, after prayer, to honor the victims and to be close to their families, to show the esteem and appreciation that the nation it has to Genoa, and this is not parochialism, because Genoa is the gateway to Northern Italy and Europe.”
While also it should be beautiful to honor those lost, Cardinal Bagnasco, the essential thing is the shortness of time and security.
Must Proclaim Gospel in Every Way
He also responded to a question of Zenit about the meaning of this gathering for helping Europe retain its Christian roots and transmit the faith to its young people in the midst of secularization.
“If the Church did not announce the Gospel today in every possible way, She would not be faithful to the Gospel and would not be faithful to the young,” Cardinal Bagnasco told Zenit.
Despite all their distractions, the cardinal acknowledged, the young “belong to everyone.” “Despite a culture that impels us to be individualists, separated from each other, as individuals, as groups and as states, despite all this, and in fact, precisely because of all this, there is an ever greater need to proclaim the hope that is Jesus, who has made us a new people.”
“In announcing Christ,” Cardinal Bagnasco stressed, “we must recover the relational dimension and therefore the community dimension, that individualistic and liberal culture attack and want to dissolve.”
“But what is the result of this dissolution?” he asked, responding: “It is not a greater happiness, it is not a more supportive society, but it is a more divided society, anguish, bewilderment.” This, he said, is because societies, cultures, and states, but also individuals, including young people, do not make communities, they collect together, but they do not want to make a community.
“This is the profound desire of the heart of every person, to whom the Church must respond.
“How?” he asked, answering: “With us, shepherds in the front row, of course, but together with the Christian community, because the community founded by Christ which announces Him, must be shown.”