Common Good Seen as a Key Part of Ties Among Authorities

Holy See Addresses a Conference of European Officials

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BUDAPEST, Hungary, MARCH 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Service to the individual's dignity and rights as well as to the common good must be the fundamental criterion of relations among local, regional and central powers, says the Holy See.



Archbishop Juliusz Janusz, papal nuncio in Hungary, expressed this conviction when addressing the Conference of European Ministers responsible for local and regional powers -- in the realm of the activities of the Council of Europe -- held here Thursday and Friday.

"Any implementation of regional autonomy needs to take into account the common good, namely, the good of all people and of the whole person," said the prelate, who led the Vatican's delegation.

"The reason that public administration exists, not only on a national but also on a local and regional level, is to serve the human being at every level of a state in order to build a more free and responsible society," he added in his address in English, published today by the Holy See.

"Good local and regional governance is indeed the 'conditio sine qua non' for local and regional authorities to faithfully keep to their mission of serving the common good of the communities," the archbishop explained.

To be good, local and regional governance "requires a democratic form of government" which promotes "the participation in public life of all the people living in the community, without neglecting the stranger among them," he said.

Archbishop Janusz added: "Adequate information is ... among the principal instruments of democratic participation."

Applying the tenets of the Church's social doctrine, the nuncio explained that "good governance at a local and regional level implies respect for the principle of subsidiarity."

According to this principle, a "community of a higher instance should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower one, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good," the archbishop said.

"The needs of the community are best understood and satisfied by people who are close to them and who act as neighbors to those in need," he emphasized.

"However," he added, "subsidiarity does not exclude the necessity of solidarity of local and regional authorities among themselves and with the central authorities, always in order to contribute effectively to the common good.

"Local and regional autonomy should not be viewed simply as a political, economic and cultural option, but should be seen in a context of solidarity, without overlooking the broader interests and the possible needs of less influential sectors of the society."

Archbishop Janusz explained that good government is that "in which the political authorities do not forget or underestimate the moral dimension of political representation," which implies sharing "fully in the destiny of the people" and "seeking solutions to social problems."

To achieve this, individuals are needed who "are able to accept the common good and not prestige or the gaining of personal advantages as the true goal of their work."

"Indeed," the prelate added, "political corruption causes a growing distrust with respect to public institutions, bringing about a progressive disaffection in the citizens in regard to politics and its representatives, with a resulting weakening of institutions."