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The common commitment to peace

· Mr Napolitano, President of the Republic of Italy, meets with Synodal Fathers ·

On Tuesday morning, 13 October the President of the Republic of Italy, the Honorable Mr Giorgio Napolitano, received a delegation from the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, including Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan of Antioch for the Syrians. He received the delegation at the Quirinale, the President's current residence, which was previously the Papal residence for nearly three centuries. This idea of commonality shared by the Church and State points to the broader goal of Napolitano's address: the common commitment to peace.

After several interventions by Synodal Fathers, the President commented on the current situation in the Middle East and his role in the peace process. “We are always concerned with finding a long overdue peaceful solution between the Israel and Palestinian populations and representatives; Italy has always worked – and this has been a constant in Italian foreign policy... in a spirit of friendship with Israel and, at the same time, in a spirit of authentic friendship with Arab countries, to bring the conflict to an end, so that a peaceful coexistence might finally be achieved.”

He then mentioned the noteworthy incentive of the Holy Father to discuss this religious pluralism with the Synod of Bishops, affirming, “I believe that effectively this great tradition of dialogue between the monotheistic religions that the Catholic Church pursues with great conviction — the present Pontiff takes a personal interest in this — is truly one of the fundamental paths to ensure what someone called, appropriately in my view, the reconciliation between civilizations”.

Napolitano then positively noted, “I am convinced great benefit may derive and provide an impulse to the cause of religious pluralism, the cause of dialogue, and the cause of peace in this tormented region.... I believe there is something deeply shared, yet distinct, between the commitment of political authorities... and your commitment, above all for peace.... We do not know if in this phase new paths are truly opening up, we earnestly hope they are”.

The President of the Republic then emphasized the common goal that Italy shares with the Church in achieving peace, noting, “We hope that this comes to pass, and that we may all truly make our contribution so that finally a way may be found to emerge from a situation that causes not only terrible suffering.... I think that the possible reconciliation — which should be pursued actively — between civilizations is the major resource we have at our disposal to nourish our hope and pursue our ideals, our objectives”.

When Napolitano was finished, Cardinal Nikola Eterović, General Secretary of the Synod, in solidarity with Italy, expressed his deepest grief for the four Italian soldiers killed in Afghanistan on 10 October and assured the President that these men are in the prayers of all the Synodal Fathers.

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