ROME, NOV. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II’s visit to the Italian Parliament on Thursday brings positive reaction from the Italian public and political opinion, opening a new era of church-state co-operation.
The papal visit made front-page news in all Italian newspapers today, some dedicating as many as nine pages to the event.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls described the visit as “an homage that the Pope wishes to offer to the unique historical role of Italy with Christian humanism,” adding in comparison to other papal visits to parliamentary assemblies, “I think that, in this case, it is about something singular, in a certain sense unique.”
Professor Carlo Cardia, one of Italy’s most outstanding canon law experts, considers the visit as “a moment of maturity for our democracy.”
Moreover, he added, “it shows that relations with the Church are no longer a historical problem.”
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said: “I am deeply moved. It was a lofty, noble speech, full of love for Italy, which has touched upon all topics we all share.”
Massimo D’Alema, an influential leader of the opposition and president of the Democratic Left (former Italian Communist) Party, added: “For my sensibility as a man of the left, the references John Paul II made to solidarity, poverty, the acceptance of immigrants, and the value of peace have particular significance.”
Former Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro said that the “Pope has confirmed the critical role of ethics for those who govern.”
According to historian Pietro Scoppola, John Paul II’s presence in the Italian Parliament marks a “full and unconditional reconciliation with Italian institutions.”