“I hope we will develop a shared project to present in the Assembly next May. It will show that the Italian Church does not complain, rather, she is preparing to step up and improve her efforts.” It’s the proposal of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, CEI President, conveyed in his opening address at the Permanent Bishops’ Council, dedicated, inter alia, to a set of topical issues.
“I would like us to be able to show the Country that as Catholics we don’t deflect the challenges of our times, in the belief that they can be addressed and overcome,”
the Cardinal declared, conveying his “gratitude” to the inhabitants of Torre di Melissa, the small Italian town in Calabria that showed “choral solidarity” towards some fifty shipwrecked migrants, an example of welcome that bucks the trend of the ongoing debate on migrations.
“We cannot allow divisions regarding the poor, nor can we act on a whim”, the Cardinal enjoined. “The geographic position of our Country, and, more importantly, our history and our culture, entrust us with a responsibility in the Mediterranean and in Europe.”
The second token of gratitude expressed by the CEI President was conveyed
“to all those – not least the news media – who have strived to prevent “the doubling of taxation on institutions that perform non-profit activities.”
“The voluntary sector plays a crucial role in Italian society” the CEI President pointed out with regard to the corporate income tax (IRES): “There is a strong need for this form of organized civil community today more than in the past; there is a need for intermediate bodies, for a form subsidiarity that reaches out to the poor and to their needs with the strength of experience and creativity, of professionalism and good relations.”
“Governing the Country means serving it and caring for it as if we were called to return it unscathed at any given moment”,
is the Cardinal’s final appeal, 100 years since the appeal of don Sturzo. “My message to the free and strong of today is: work together for the unity of the Country, form networks, share experiences and innovation.” “As a Church I can assure you that we will do our part with patience and courage, shunning partisan interests, so as to deserve the confidence and the esteem of our community”, assured the CEI President.
“We carry in our hearts the difficulties and the hopes of our people, of our Churches and of our territories, involved as we are in a quest for living: a quest that challenges each one of us, and towards which we have the responsibility of ensuring our substantial contribution based on Christian experience that encompasses faithful proclamation and the credible witness of the Gospel”, Cardinal Bassetti said in the opening remarks of his address at the first permanent Council of 2019.
In the face of “winds that cause widespread confusion and disorientation, withdrawal and closures, we are called to work harder and to step up commitment”, the first appeal to Catholics: “given this great confusion we must avoid making it worse. When we feel that we are being criticized or provoked, we have to try and understand the reasons; when we are ignored we must retrace our steps knock on the doors with confidence and respect; if we are dragged into something, we must reflect before getting involved.”
There is no room for discouragement and mistrust caused by evil disguised as indifference, which “seizes our fears and transforms them into anger”: “I dread the cunningness that exploits ignorance. I dread the vanity that poisons social climbers. I dread the narrow horizon made of clichés and hasty responses or loud reprimands.” “Christian relations are not an etiquette or a lesson in good manners.” We must “reflect further and act with discernment and concreteness”, as the Pope urges us to do.
“When the people are confused, the best way to fulfil our duty is not to propose easy reassurances,
inferring that everything will be all right and that anyway it’s not our job to worry about it.” The CEI President called upon the Catholic community to engage in honest interaction and “take the necessary decisions with determination, not only to be more efficient but also to be more united and incontrovertible”, without indulging in criticism. Improvisation and sloppiness don’t’ form part of the heritage of political Catholicism, the Cardinal said.
“We must not limit ourselves to keeping the pace of the latest news with declarations and interviews; we can’t afford to lose the ability to create our own agenda, we must be open to current developments – starting with emergency situations that knock at our doors every day – in keeping with our pastoral program that ultimately consists in the Gospel of our Lord, incarnated in our present times”,
“Our decisions- His Eminence said – should hinge on method, supported by a strong idea and by constant verifications, by a cultural elaboration that is not just aimed at showcasing ourselves. We need a methodology to interact with institutions, in a distinct, cooperative manner; we need a methodology to look ahead with confidence and engagement.”
Giving a regional Episcopal Conferences a stronger voice is one of the proposals, not for “great reforms”, but to increase their participation and “develop the art of governance where everyone is responsible and which gratifies those who fulfil their duty unconditionally.” “Let us start afresh from this synodal style, let it be a part of everyday living, with the people, to give advice, support and consolation”, the exhortation to the bishops: “it will then be easier to distinguish the good ideas from the bad ones, thereby adopting the most effective provisions, and choosing the most efficient collaborators.”