The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, sent the following message to His Holiness Pope Francis.
Your lofty and noble message for the XLIX World Day of Peace has given me reason for an attentive and supportive reflection.
The words uttered by Your Holiness echoed through a year that proved to be particularly difficult for the entire world, torn by over thirty bloody conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and also in Europe. The barbarian acts of terrorism and violence - aimed at overturning the foundations of civil living and the rule of law - multiply and appear all the more heinous as they are perpetrated against innocent people. The thousands of women and men drowned in the Mediterranean, the 700 children who died in the hope of a peaceful existence, far from war and poverty, are the silent and sorrowful testimony of a dramatic failure. Anywhere we turn our glance, we see a still excessively large number of human beings prey of unresolved tensions and of an unacceptably limited access to basic commodities. These are the roots and the consequences of what Your Holiness effectively described as "the third world war being fought at piecemeal".
In the message for the XLIX World Day of Peace, this ailing and silent humanity, the spectators of the globalisation of indifference that induces too many people to become addicted consumerists and to fall into a self-referential isolation, making forgiveness, justice, solidarity and mercy, which is the theme of the recently inaugurated Jubilee Year, seem very remote and almost out of reach.
At the same time, in these angst-filled times, there are signals of hope that it is our duty to seize and encourage: I'm thinking of the virtuous message transmitted by the EXPO, the effort made by the United Nations in defining the Sustainable Development Goals, the ambitious Paris agreement on climate change, the agreement on Iran's nuclear programme, the agreement finally reached during the past few days to restore a unitary and inclusive government in Libya, and the growing diplomatic efforts to stop the spiral of violence in Syria.
These signals intersect and repropose challenges and opportunities that must be hastily and compellingly tackled and seized by Institutions in order to broaden the scope of solidarity, liberty and cooperation among the people of the world.
The apostolic voyages Your Holiness performed during the year that is now coming to a close clearly indicate this path: from the advocated reconciliation between Cuba and the United States, to the trip to the Balkans, opening the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy in Bangui, in the Central African Republic. The international community attentively welcomed the speech delivered by Your Holiness last September at the General Assembly of the United Nations, 50 years after the address by Pope Paul VI, paying special heed to your call to universal brotherhood and peace, imposing on humanity's moral conscience the duty to continue working to solve the many serious problems that afflict humankind, also relying on the instruments of progress and science.
I fully agree with the considerations expressed in Your Holiness's Message on the intrinsic bond that unites all the people of the world, thus making "unity greater than conflict", as you so masterfully indicated in the "Laudato sì" encyclical letter. Just as indifference to others and to Creation are two aspects of the same reality, in the same way sincere attention to the human family cannot be separated from caring for our "common home" and its state of health.
The road to change has been plotted and is therefore clearly visible: this is why we seize with firm belief your invitation to recognise the signals of hope in what Your Holiness refers to as "humanity's capacity to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care", expressed in silence and discretion, but effectively. Individuals and organisations of volunteer workers, who work to relieve the suffering of the helpless, of those who survive on the margin of society and who suffer on a daily basis the culture of indifference and hedonistic consumerism, make this hope clear and intense.
In this respect, I would like to recall the decisive role played by politics, at domestic and international level, and also the commitment of Italian institutions, in their different branches, to assure sound guarantees - and permanent attention - to the legitimate expectations of the most fragile segments of our society. To this end, efforts to protect the rights of citizens - and of all those who, for whatever reason, find themselves on the national territory - must continue to grow, also providing an ever-deeper and concrete education to the principles of solidarity and legality.
In facing challenges, both internal and international, Italy's commitment is intense and coherent, as is shown by the extremely large number of human lives rescued at sea, the generous reception given to refugees and migrants in our Country, the pressing invitation to the European family to make the Union's mechanisms of solidarity stronger and more effective, our renewed commitment to development cooperation and to peacekeeping missions, and our political contribution to the success of the Paris Conference on Climate Change.
Certain of interpreting the sincere and deepest sentiments of the Italian people, allow me to transmit, Holy Father, their heart-felt wishes for the New Year and for the happy continuation of your apostolic mission».
Rome, 1st January 2016