The 140th anniversary of Italian Catholic Action, the General Assembly and the Meeting with the Pope offered an opportunity to reflect on this demanding journey which started long ago and has become deeply interwoven with the history of the Country [Italy] besides contributing to the formation of a number of its leaders.
Italy's oldest Catholic association for lay people has, in fact, always been - and intends to continue to be - at the service of the Church and of Italy, as was emphasized on the culminating day of this anniversary by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, and by Pope Benedict XVI himself.
In different forms and conforming to different historical periods, this leitmotif of service to the Church and to the Country has marked the history of Italian Catholic Action from its earliest years at the time of Pius XI and Pius XII, to the period following the Second Vatican Council and to the long Pontificate of John Paul II. The list of Pope's names suggests not only an obvious historical framework but, rather, the strong ties between the Association and the Bishop of Rome who is Primate of Italy.
Thus today, in continuity with the Christian and Catholic tradition of the Country, in continuity with its history and with the witness of so many of its women and men, Italian Catholic Action is involved in "proclaiming Jesus" to the ends of the world, which means to the towns and villages of Italy, to every walk of life - of course, in harmony with a "Church of the people", which opens its doors every day to whoever wishes to come in.
For this ongoing and unending mission, Benedict XVI said the long-established Association, must continue to be "faithful to its own deep roots of faith", hence it must attend first to its own formation.
At a time in history in which the commitment to education is a priority in order to dialogue with lay people and non-believers on crucial topics - the conception of the person, the existence of universal inalienable values, the defence and promotion of life, educational freedom, the importance of the family, enumerated clearly by Cardinal Bagnasco - is indeed urgent, the Pope said, in order "to extend the spaces of rationality in the sign of a faith that befriends intelligence, both in the context of a popular and widespread culture and in a more elaborated and thought-out research", with a demanding and responsible choice that the Church and the whole Country need.
St. Peter’s Square
Nov. 14, 2019
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