Mario Mauro, leader of the People of Freedom party in Strasbourg, told Vatican Radio about this conference on "'Caritas in Veritate' from the Perspective of Politics, Economics and Theology," which took place on Tuesday. It was organized by the European People's Party along with the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).
"I think this initiative has given us much encouragement," Mauro affirmed. "We have realized that the things that the Pope talks about are not only those in the abstract that the contemporary world needs, but also those that our institutions need."
For Mauro, to take a Papal encyclical to the chamber of the European parliament "means, in fact, to challenge an aging mentality with a conception of power -- which has become fashionable and dominant -- that believes it can undervalue man."
The deputy asserted that European institutions were born by an agreement to guarantee peace and development.
"Whoever is born with this origin cannot but acknowledge in the Pope's words an honest and imposing proposal of a path of goodness for the whole of humanity," he said.
Highest form of charity
Mauro reported that in Tuesday's debate the first topic discussed was the political relevance of "Caritas in Veritate."
In this sense, he explained that the encyclical begins by pointing out that charity in truth is a formidable instrument for promoting the human person.
"Hence," Mauro said, "if we keep in mind what Paul VI said in 'Populorum Progressio,' namely, that politics is the highest form of charity, we can read the encyclical in this particular key, which is: politics in truth is a formidable instrument for promoting the human person."
According to the deputy, "there isn't a page in the encyclical which, in one way or another, is not a judgment on how we engage in politics and on how engagement in politics can be transformed into the most appropriate instrument for the realization of the common good."
Participants in the conference engaged in an anthropological and philosophical, as well as an economic and social, reflection.
"To be specific, it is worthwhile to recall among the great dangers that threaten contemporary man, a formidable attack -- in both an anthropological as well as a social and economic key -- on the human person that comes from relativism," said Mauro.
He cautioned about the danger of relativism becoming an ideology. He reported some "numbers of relativism:" an abortion every 27 seconds in our European society, 10 million divorces that weigh on 15 million children and an aging population that makes it possible for only one country, such as Turkey or Egypt, to have more than half of the young people of the European Union.
For Mauro, this data reflects "a conception in which the hope of building has been lost: there is nothing that makes life worth living, there is no truth to which to be committed."
"And this has as a consequence," he added, in "a generation lacking reasons to make a home, to form a family, to bring children into the world."
"Society is paralyzed and declines, and this is, perhaps, the most important judgment we see coming from the encyclical," the deputy explained.
Mauro compared relativism to the fundamentalism "of those ideologies that in the 20th century took the form of the monstrosity carried out in the name of the people," such as Communism, Fascism and Nazism.
He expressed the belief that those ideologies "were enveloped at the end of the century in religious tensions," highlighting "Muslim fundamentalism that takes God as a pretext for a project of power, but also techno-science, in which man makes himself God to give his own law to reality."
The deputy drew a connection between this encyclical and the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
"Our strategy on poverty is a strategy of development which passes through, not simply an initiative of greater distribution of resources from the richer countries, but also through the promotion of the person," he said.
Mauro concluded, "It is the person that becomes the protagonist of his time, of his country, who perhaps is martyred by the economic difficulties but who, thanks to education in which faith has a relevant function, has the strength to address the problems."