Italian Prelate Discusses Challenges Facing the Church

Cardinal Bagnasco Addresses General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference

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By Luca Marcolivio

VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The great challenges facing the Church, in the present times were the subject of a press conference held Friday by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

The archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) met with journalists in Paul VI Hall, at the end of CEI’s 64th General Assembly.

Responding to a question from ZENIT, the cardinal said that the topic of the family occupied "no small place” during the sessions of the General Assembly, not only because of the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Milan, but also because the family is the "central nucleus of man and of society" and a “fundamental and inalienable resource for the economy."

Referring to the topic of the economic crisis and unemployment, Cardinal Bagnasco confirmed the position of the Social Doctrine of the Church, according to which work is not only a form of sustenance but an essential means to "express oneself and one’s talents" for the "building of society."

Finance, the economy, politics and culture, added the cardinal, must all have a "unifying criterion" which is the centrality of the person and his dignity.

The statement issued by the bishops at the end of their meeting spoke of the importance of access to work and helping young people to go beyond the present precariousness. Highlighted at the same time was the urgency of a genuine collective cultural re-thinking, above all of mentality, even before the need for economic reforms.

"An epochal crisis must be answered with an equal epochal change," reads the final communiqué.

"Catholics’ commitment in politics, a priority in the Italian bishops' present pastoral program, is another increasingly urgent topic", said Cardinal Bagnasco. There is need of a "convinced and reasoned presence of Catholics in the life of the country," he observed.

Part of the press conference was taken up by the guidelines against pedophilia in the clergy. In this connection, the cardinal explained that in the document promulgated last Monday, the Episcopal conference has essentially followed the guidelines given last year by the Holy See.

Another topic discussed by the bishops was formation for adults. The Pope, when receiving the Italian bishops last Thursday, exhorted them "to watch and work so that the Christian community is able to form adult persons in the faith because they have encountered Jesus Christ, who know Him because they love Him and love Him because they have known Him."

A final reflection was reserved by the cardinal for the controversial cases that have marked the Vatican in the last weeks. "Sin always leads to division and is a very concrete reality that touches everyone," men of the Church included. The answer is a constant state of "conversion" and "holiness," he said.

However, it is always necessary to pay attention "not to emphasize" negative issues and not to forget that, beyond evil, "there is also good" and it is right to speak of it. "Evil is in us, but salvation is the last word, because God has conquered sin," pointed out the cardinal.