LILLE, France, SEPT. 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II highlighted the importance of Christians’ commitment in politics and reminded them of their duty to be always consistent with the Gospel.
The relationship of Christians with politics was the essence of the papal message sent on Saturday to the Social Weeks of France, held from Sept. 23-26 in Lille.
This year’s Weeks, which has as its theme “Europe: A Society to be Invented,” celebrated the centenary of the initiative. The Weeks began as an initiative of a Lyon businessman and a Lille Professor, and since then has created a current of social reflection that puts the human person at the center.
The Weeks have become a setting for meeting, reflection and exchange on important questions of society, in the light of the Gospel. Its annual sessions are open to all, both believers and non-believers.
“The presence of Christians in social life constitutes an authentic testimony,” the Holy Father said in his message, which was delivered to the participants by his special envoy, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
“By their way of analyzing the different social phenomena and of proposing solutions, they put first the meaning of the human being and the hope that comes to them from Christ, and recall the role of Christian moral and spiritual values which are at the origin of their lives and of their action,” he said.
“The commitment of Christians in politics is important. I invite you not to withdraw from your mission in this field, always seeking coherence between the Gospel, divine and apostolic tradition, the magisterium of the Church, and the options and decisions you are called to make,” the Pope added.
“From the vocation of the Christian faithful springs the service to their brothers in an unselfish way for a civilization that is ever more worthy of man, in particular, in face of an ever closer international cooperation in which the capacity of association and solidarity triumph over the pursuit of profit and capital gains,” the Pope noted.
The papal message appeals to Christian politicians to pay special attention to young people.
“Not only must they be guaranteed learning, but values and hope must also be transmitted to them, to address some forms of behavior that we see in them today, such as suicide and recourse to drugs,” he continued.
“Youth expects support from adults to face the future with serenity; the objective is to be able to leave them a spiritual and moral legacy,” he added.
President of the Weeks, Michel Camdessus, former director of the International Monetary Fund, confirmed in his closing address delivered on Sunday the European character that the Social Weeks are acquiring, to the point of saying that this “institution will be European or it will not be” at all.
French President Jacques Chirac sent a message to the Social Weeks, saying that in its 100 years of life this institution has written “a beautiful page of history,” “that of the contribution of French Catholicism in its social dimension,” becoming a “place of formation and of elaboration of thought.”
For additional information see the Social Weeks of France Web page.