The Church protects human life and dignity and promotes individual and social
Pope John Paul II received in audience the new Italian
Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency Mr. Emanuele Scammacca del Murgo e
dell'Agnone, on Thursday, 17 March 1988. After the Ambassador presented his
credentials, he and the Pope exchanged discourses; the texts follow, beginning
with that of the Holy Father.
1. As you begin your mission as Ambassador Extraordinary and
Minister Plenipotentiary of the Italian Republic to the Holy See, you have
wished to express to me your kindest regards, while assuring me of your
readiness to enter into cordial and open collaboration. I am sincerely
grateful to you.
At this moment my thoughts turn respectfully to the President
of the Republic, Francesco Cossigra, who carries out his high mandate with
wisdom for the good of the nation. I ask you to kindly convey my greetings
In assuming this demanding office, which up to now has been
worthily held by your esteemed predecessor, you have wished to emphasize the
unique bonds which join Italy to the Holy See. Rightly so; in all its
expressions, the long history of the Italian people has been profoundly
marked by Catholicism, which has made such a great contribution to the
cultural richness of which Italy is proud. Even recent affairs in
contemporary Italy, which is working to promote civil and political
liberties, have seen the active involvement of Catholics. In the light of
their faith, they make a specific contribution to the foundation of the
State on authentically human values, in conformity with the Christian
traditions of the nation.
2. My apostolic solicitude for the Church of Rome which is
entrusted to me and for the particular Churches of Italy, far from being
lessened by the universality of the mission connected with the office of
Successor of Peter, is in fact increased.
Called, in God's mysterious design, from a far distant land to
the munus petrinum, I heard addressed to me the words: "Leave your
land and go where I will send you". This land has become my land as well, as
I had occasion to say on the very day of my election to the papal throne,
and its expectations and aspirations, its hopes and achievements, have
become mine as well.
The pastoral service which I carry out in the Church of Rome
and in my visits to the various dioceses of Italy have as their goal the
growth in faith, hope and love of Italian Catholics, whom I encourage to
become involved, through a dialogue that is fair and respectful towards all,
in an ever more effective collaboration between Church and State, for the
good of individuals and of the community.
You have recalled, Mr. Ambassador, the recent Concordat with
which the two parties have agreed on the one hand to confirm the distinction
between ecclesial community and political community and, on the other, to
assure an ever more fruitful collaboration between them, since both, though
in different respects, serve the personal and social vocation of the same
persons who form the living fabric of the nation. For its part, the Holy See
is well convinced of its duty to proceed in this direction, and it hopes
that eventual difficulties in application will find solutions which are
equitable and satisfying for all, inspired solely by a desire for the common
good, and sought in open willingness and mutual esteem.
3. In this context, I cannot fail to confirm our attention to
the problems of the formation of the new generations. It has rightly been
recognized that an education which failed to allocate due space to the
religious dimension -- which in Italian society is and has been expressed
historically, in such a preponderant way, in the Catholic religion -- would
be lacking with respect to its own ethical and cultural roots. Moreover,
today's Italian society shows a sensitivity to Christian and Catholic
religious values, notwithstanding certain indications to the contrary in
various areas. The choice, by a large majority, of religious education in
public schools has borne this out in an eloquent way.
There is a special interest in the family in Italy today; this
is true in spite of the worrisome signs of a certain moral laxity, which I
hope is temporary and confined to certain areas.
The Church intends to work for the confirmation and, where
necessary, the recovery of family values, aware that through her solicitude
she is making a rich contribution to the growth of society. In addition, the
Church is confident that the public authorities and all the members of
society are striving with equal commitment to defend and promote the
institution of the family, which the Italian Constitution itself places
among the pillars of civil life.
4. With good reason it has been pointed out that the Italian
Constitution includes among its inalienable principles the promotion and
safeguarding of the human person. Now, it is well known that Christian
philosophical and theological speculation has contributed in a specific and
decisive way to the elaboration of the concept of person.
The Church is committed to protecting the existence, dignity,
and inviolability of the human person at every moment of his existence, as
well as to promoting the development of both his individual and social
dimensions. She encourages her children to take advantage of every
opportunity to make a contribution in such an important area, with
particular attention to the forms of volunteer work which aim to bring
relief to the old and new forms of suffering and poverty.
I wish here to recall that the theme of the person is also at
the center of the recent Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis; here I
have presented the new and more demanding requirements of solidarity in the
context of individual countries and in relations among the various countries
and "worlds", from a global point of view. Within this perspective we find
man's yearning for peace, which the Church shares with every person of good
will and actively sustains by her action in the various parts of the world.
This yearning is deeply felt by the Italian people, who have made it an
important value in their Constitution.
5. Promotion of every authentic human value, the safeguarding
of the person and his inalienable rights, the consolidation of peace within
each nation and in international relations: these are some of the objectives
of the collaboration which exists between Church and State in Italy. I
trust, Mr. Ambassador, that thanks also to your work, this mutual
cooperation will be able to grow even greater, promoting the ever fuller and
more secure attainment of the goals mentioned.
With this in view, I am pleased to assure you of the ready
cooperation of the Holy See, the Italian Episcopal Conference, which is
actively involved in the implementation of the Concordat where it calls for
their intervention, and of all the various members of the ecclesial
communities. I am happy to receive the assurances of a similar readiness on
the part of the authorities of the Italian State, and my hope is that
fruitful work may be done, in a climate of open and cordial dialogue.
With these sentiments, as I receive your credentials, I gladly
extend to Your Excellency my best wishes for the success of your mission,
upon which I invoke the Lord's protection.
To you, your family and your collaborators I give my heartfelt
Apostolic Blessing, extending it with equal warmth to the President, the
authorities and the whole Italian people.