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March 26, 1988

Give public life in your country an example of social responsibility

On Saturday, 26 March the Holy Father received in audience members of the Austrian Parliament and their relatives. During the audience the Pope addressed them as follows:

Mr Chairman,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me special pleasure that such a great number of Parliamentarians from the Federal Council and the National Council of the Republic of Austria have come to the Eternal City, along with the members of their families, their friends and collaborators. You are thus giving an example that does honor to you and to your country. I gladly recall my pastoral visit in 1983 to Vienna and Mariazell, and look forward to my coming second visit to other dioceses of your beautiful Austrian homeland.

I welcome you on the occasion of your visit to the Vatican today, and I thank you for the expression of your esteem for the Church and the Successor of the Apostle Peter here in the See of Rome. I would like to express my best wishes for your current visit to Rome and the responsibilities you fulfil in your country.

In this very month Austria is commemorating the tragic historical event by which, fifty years ago, before the beginning of the unfortunate Second World War she lost her independence. Following the end of the war a marvelous reconstruction took place, in which many of your neighbors, who had been given political asylum, including people from my native Poland, participated. Situated in the center of Europe, Austria can contribute considerably to dialogue between nations and ultimately among people, overcoming the divisions of political systems. In the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes the Second Vatican Council emphasizes that "although the world of today has a very vivid sense of unity and of how one person depends on another in needful solidarity, it is most grievously torn into opposing camps by conflicting forces. For political, social, economic, racial and ideological disputes still continue bitterly, and with them the peril of a war which would reduce everything to ashes" (GS, 4). Your greatest task is to contribute to their peaceful resolution through dialogue and openness among people and nations.

As politicians you can give public life in your country a special example of social responsibility. Several weeks ago I treated this theme in my Encyclical "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" for the twentieth anniversary of the Encyclical "Populorum Progressio" of my predecessor Paul VI; it reminds us that development and worldwide solidarity are the necessary ways to peace. Such a solidarity development must extend to the entire international community; it includes the necessary developmental aid for the investigation of the dominant international economic systems.

Social responsibility begins with the recognition of the freedom and dignity of every person, including that of the unborn. It is concerned with the protection of marriage and the family, for the common good and thereby also the good relations between employers and employees as well as between manual and intellectual labor in economic and social life. A contribution can be made on all levels to a more human and more just world. As Christians you are also called to fulfil your Christian responsibility for the moral structuring of society and social life. Through your commitment in the spirit of the gospel in public life you bear witness to Christ whose way of life and suffering we consider and honor ever anew in this season before Easter. His sacrifice for the salvation of men and his Resurrection show us the measure and the hope of our own Christian existence in the world.

May your stay in the city of Rome, which is also the city of the Apostles Peter and Paul and many other martyrs and witnesses to the faith, give you power and strength for your continuing life's journey and your responsible tasks. May the Christians among you be strengthened in your faith and your love for Christ and the Church. I extend my best wishes for Easter to you and your families and to all who are dear to you. May God protect and assist you; I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.

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