Cardinal Bagnasco's Address to Italian Senate
"The Political World Is Called to Be a Point of Reference for Dialogue"
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ROME, DEC. 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, delivered Thursday in Rome during a Mass he presided over in the Italian Senate.
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"The Dialogue of God and Man"
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord.
I am happy to be able to celebrate with you the Holy Eucharist so close to Christmas, and I thank you for the courteous and appreciated invitation. I greet the president of the Senate of the Republic and all the participants in this moment of prayer: Through you I am pleased to address to the entire political world my respectful personal good wishes and those of the Italian bishops for the imminent feast. To you, to your families, to your colleagues, and to all the staff of our Parliament, I wish the serenity and peace that Jesus' birth brings to the world, and a New Year of fruitful work for the good of Italy.
1. In the mystery of the Incarnation one sees how important each one of us is to the heart of God: He gives confidence to humanity, offers himself to dialogue with us, and saves man who is wounded by sin and, sadly, turned in on himself. The Lord Jesus comes in search of man, shares his life, offers his friendship, and today leads our discussion by posing to us two questions.
First of all, he asks how many of us will accept his invitation: it is the insistence of humility and love that stands at the door of our heart and waits. If God has placed himself in dialogue with us, are we in dialogue with him? Do we seek the light of his Word, the strength of prayer? Thus we are invited to enter into our interior world and to discern truth, that truth that is ever ensnared by lies and allurements: Where am I going on my journey? What are the things that count and for which I spend my energy, time and life? Looking at Bethlehem, at the nativity scene in our homes, we will see a light that illumines and warms the soul and will help us to respond with honesty and trust.
2. But there is a second question: How does each one of us relate to others? God's style, in fact, calls for our action within the paradigm of personal, family and social life. If, in fact, we accept to respond to dialogue with God, we must also necessarily be in dialogue with others. It is part of the dialogical structure of the person who bears in himself the stamp of the Creator. Without openness of soul, no one can fulfill himself. There is need of openness and dialogue, of positive encounter between persons: in the family, womb of life and first school of humanity and, if Christian, of faith; in society, which is not a more or less structured sum of individuals, but rather a community of persons; in the actions of the state, which [without dialogue] reach deadlock.
True dialogue, however, if it is not to become merely a fog of words, has its laws! The first is the willingness to dialogue: When this willingness is polluted, then there is not even the desire to listen, to make an effort to understand the other, to see things from another of view, or to say something significant. Born then is a dialogue of the deaf and everything tends to be distorted, at times howling in tones, gestures and words. The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, listens to us and speaks to us the truth, he stigmatizes evil and points out the good: He always saves us. He indicates the arduous way and encourages us by putting himself at our side; he does not humiliate us in our falls and he does not crush us, but he lifts us and exhorts us to look ahead; he makes himself one with us, who are sinners, so as to lead us to breathe with him the air of Truth and Love.
3. If this is true for the life of every disciple of Christ, I think it is also true for every human reality, including politics, which the Servant of God Paul VI described as the highest form of charity.
The political world, in the complexity of its articulation, is called to be, by virtue of its nature, a point of reference for the art of dialogue. It is called the be, in a certain sense, an exemplary place for society, an arena of encounter, of the confrontation of ideas, of reasonableness, of rigor: in a word, of that spiritual nobility that is born of honest, clear and linear thinking, as well as of the awareness of being representatives of the people, who wish to look at their representatives with trust and legitimate expectations. Hence, it is about being able to look high and far if one wishes to see closely and concretely; it is about having in one's mind and heart a love for our people, who have a great sense of humanity and moderation; it's about being able to make decisions, sacrifices, and acts of heroism out of love for the family, which is the true and irreplaceable venue of a fraternal and solidaristic society.
It is this common sense, this underlying character, which constitutes the soul of our people, the soul that is born of the Gospel and that is nourished in the Christian communities that are like innumerable points of light, stretching from one end of our splendid country to the other. This soul is not generated by the state, but rather it precedes the state. However, the state has the task of preserving and promoting it, because it flows in the people's veins, it is at the root of our history, it inspires virtuous practices, and it generates that dimension of "gift" that the Benedict XVI calls for in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate." It is a spiritual heritage that cannot be squandered, but only guarded, increasingly aware that if it were to be lacking, the state would be impoverished to the point of being reduced to a commercial bureaucracy, perhaps efficient, but without life.
Dear brothers and sisters, we wish you a Christmas rich in the wisdom of God: May it fill the minds and hearts of us all, of families, of our people, of the Italy that you have honored and have the great responsibility of serving.
Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco
Archbishop of Genoa
President of the Italian Episcopal Conference
[Translation by ZENIT]