Quirinale Palace, 10/06/2017
Most Blessed Father,
The visit of the Pontiff at the Quirinale always constitutes a special event, further magnified by the affection that surrounds your person.
Here, to welcome you, is a palace that bears the marks of the fruitful activity of so many of your predecessors and that, over the years, has increasingly become the "Home of the Italians".
The origin of your family, your being part of the Roman clergy as the Cardinal holding the title of San Bellarmino since 2001, which culminated in your election to Supreme Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome, will certainly turn this visit into a family event, also for you.
We have wanted to share the welcome that we now extend to you with many of the children of the areas struck by the earthquake in the regions of Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo, Lazio and Emilia Romagna.
Some - the older ones - are here with us in this hall, together with the high representatives of the Institutions, while the younger ones wait to greet you, Holy Father, in the gardens, at the end of the ceremony.
This greeting to welcome you brings to mind some thoughts, prompted by your visit and inspired by your magisterium.
The first of these reflections concerns the realm of responsibility, which must be shouldered every day within the Institutions, to affirm the values upholding the centrality of individual persons, of justice, solidarity, and sharing that are enshrined in our constitutional dictates and also underlie so many expressions of the testimony of the Catholic Church.
You too, Holy Father, in your recent apostolic visit to Genoa, recalled our Constitutional Charter in your meeting with workers and, in citing the first Article, you precisely said that "the whole social pact is built around the world of work".
Your words make us clearly understand what a large responsibility rests upon those who are called on to exercise public powers and what a deep commitment must be put into assuring, day after day, dignity, a role within society, and respect; all founding elements of every civil coexistence that are assured by guaranteeing everybody a job.
Enhancing our efforts to act in such a way as to give prevalence to conditions of equity, and therefore of social stability and concord, is an aim that must be primarily targeted on youth.
This period is putting their expectations to the test, as well as the prospects for their personal lives, thus undermining a good future for society at large.
Yet, with their untiring fervour and with their ever-renewed enthusiasm, young people question us; and they remind us of the need to exercise our responsibility, individual and collective, of developing pro-growth policies in pace with the times.
It is a society - whose pace of life, marked by the advances in communications, social media and technology, which make public choices ever-more complex - is needy of greater and constant attention in order to achieve this goal.
Work and dignity - to which it is intrinsically bound - must constitute the focus of the exercise of responsibilities by Institutions and social forces, with the aim of preventing and healing the phenomena of marginalisation, poverty, solitude and neglect.
Another realm in which responsibility must be felt is that of the respect for the environment.
It is paradoxical to see a planet that is increasingly interdependent with technological progress, in which economic growth is, on the one hand, necessary but on the other, when it is pursued with the intention to exploit, it not only becomes the contributing cause of great catastrophes, such as the desertification of entire regions, but it also intensifies uncontrolled world phenomena such as global warming.
These circumstances recall the deep reflections that you, Holy Father, shared with humankind in your Encyclical Laudato si'.
An Encyclical from which we can all draw inspiration, starting with recognising the common fate that binds all the people of the planet, in developing policies aimed at striking a healthy equilibrium between respect for nature, inclusive economic development and the rejection of the culture of "waste".
In this sense the Paris Climate Agreement, which was sealed only a few months after the publication of your Encyclical, represents a point of departure that we do not intend to surrender.
The environmental approach and the social approach have now come to overlap: justice is achieved through the conservation of available resources and their fair distribution.
The interdependence between persons and peoples has always characterised humankind but, having grown over time, it has become the inescapable trait of this era and will increasingly become that of the future. This condition leads us to ponder over the need to make gestures of mutual openness and reconciliation.
The Jubilee of Mercy that you proclaimed to propose the value of compassion and forgiveness, offered an important indication as to the sense of hope that these values must and can acquire for civil communities, in relations between States and in those between single individuals.
Holy Father, your apostolic journeys are all so full of testimonies and we looked with particular admiration and confidence at your recent mission to Egypt and to your dialogue with the Islamic religious authorities at El-Azhar University: words and gestures that represented a decisive step towards greater mutual understanding and towards building a common front against extremism and fanaticism, no matter the origin.
The importance of this call stands out all the more in the face of the barbarity of terrorism that, in the past few years, has been spreading grief across so many continents and that, in many regions of the Planet, in Africa as in the Middle East, threatens Christian communities on a daily basis.
The results of scientific progress, especially in the field of information, communication and mobility, are precious instruments that enhance the opportunities to acquire knowledge, interrelate and cooperate, drawing together geographically distant peoples and places.
At times these means, contradicting their own purpose, risk becoming instruments of control or a place in which to pour out tensions, verbal violence and aggressiveness instead of focusing on coming together and pursuing mutual growth. There is an ever-growing demand for the awareness that the universal values of respect and tolerance, if shared, represent the most effective antidote against the spreading of hate.
The most immediate need felt by the world in which we live is that of an unrelenting commitment towards reconciliation and mutual openness in order to assure tolerance and peaceful coexistence and, above all, to build firm and concerted responses to the big problems of our contemporary world.
An example of this - which is both a call of distress and the voice of hope - is represented by the drama of migrants. Regulating it requires a common commitment by the international community, the Countries of origin, transit, and of destination and - as this concerns us directly - by the whole European Union.
The problems - the big problems of this epoch - risk overwhelming us if they are faced with an inappropriate, narrow approach lacking long-sightedness. Each one of us, in our daily behaviours, Institutions in their action and all the Countries in the world can only obtain results if they decide to act together.
The great European project is enshrined within this common reconciliation effort. A reconciliation whose meaning goes well beyond a re-found harmony between former enemies. The continental integration project, as it was intended by the Founding Fathers, has succeeded to bring peace, wellbeing and stability because it has reconciled Europe with itself, with its roots, with its values, rediscovering, as your Holiness told the Heads of State and Government at the celebration for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome: "the centrality of man, effective solidarity, openness to the world, the pursuit of peace and development, openness to the future." These understandings must be coherently developed and pursued in every circumstance, also in the most challenging ones.
in the commitment in favour of the "last" which continues to echo in your words, Italy has always been able to confide in the support of the Catholic Church.
We are certain that the action of the Church and of its many organisations will contribute to strengthen that sense of community that is strongly rooted in our Country but that could nonetheless be sometimes crossed by an insufficient spirit of effective and authentic cohabitation.
Holy Father, your visit constitutes an opportunity to thank the Catholic Church for its untiring action, alongside national Institutions, to broadly reaffirm the values of justice, equity, openness and tolerance on which the Republic is founded.
The Lateran Accords which, every year, are enriched through the talks that are held to celebrate the anniversary of their signing, have confirmed the priceless framework of cooperation that they provide.
A presence - that of the Catholic Church - that stands out, especially during the difficult moments of our Nation's life, such as the recent emergency created by the earthquake that hit the regions of central Italy and that saw it strongly engaged - in all its expressions, from volunteer organisations to lay movements - in giving support to Institutions to reduce the suffering of the populations involved.
We know that we can find in the Church - as Your Holiness reminded us during my visit to the Vatican two years ago - "a valid and helpful support" knowing that, citing your targeted and well-remembered words: "Reciprocal autonomy in fact does not diminish but exalts joint responsibility for the actual human being and for the spiritual and material needs of the community, which we all have the task of serving with humility and dedication."
Thank you, Holy Father,
for your visit, thank you for the work you do to serve humanity and thanks to the Church in Italy for its constant commitment in favour of the national community.