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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pope Francis visits with Italian President

At 10:45am this morning, the Holy Father, Pope Francis left the Vatican and traveled by car, followed by a motorcade of other representatives, to the Quirinale Palace where he paid an official visit to the President of the Italian Republic, His Excellency, Sergio Mattarella.

The Papal entourage included:
  • His Eminence, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State;
  • His Excellency, Angelo Becciu, Substitute for General Affairs from the Secretariat of State;
  • His Eminence, Agostino Cardinal Vallini, Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome;
  • His Eminence, Gualtiero Cardinal Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia and President of the Italian Conference of Bishops;
  • His Eminence, Giuseppe Cardinal Bertello, President of the Governatorato of the Vatican City State;
  • His Excellency, Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household;
  • Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, Regent of the Papal Household;
  • His Excellency, Adriano Bernardini, Apostolic Nuncio to Italy; and
  • Monsignor Stefano Mazzotti, Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Italy.
Upon his arrival at the Quirinale Palace, the Holy Father was welcomed by the President of the Republic in the Courtyard of Honour.  After the presentation of military honours and the playing of the national anthems, the Holy Father and the President of the Republic went together to the President's Study where they remained in private audience.

At the conclusion of their discussions, in the Hall of Tapestries, there was an exchange of gifts and the members of the official delegations were presented.  There then followed a brief period of prayer in the Chapel of the Annunciation.

The Holy Father and the President of the Republic then went to the Corazzieri Room where they delivered their respective speeches.

Finally, Pope Francis and President Mattarella went to the Quirinale Gardens, where they greeted approximately 200 children from the various parts of Italy that have been affected by earthquakes.

At 12:30pm, the Holy Father left the Quirinale and returned to the Vatican.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to the President of the Italian Republic

Mister President,

I thank you for the cordial expressions of welcome that you have offered in the name of all the Italian people.  This visit of mine is part of the relationship between the Holy See and Italy and is intended to repay your visit to the Vatican which took place on 18 April 2015, shortly after your election to the highest office of the State.

I look to Italy with hope.  A hope that is rooted in gratefulness for fathers and grandfathers, who were also my own ancestors, for my roots can also be traced to this country.  Mine are grateful memories for the generations that have preceded us and which, with the help of God, have developed our fundamental values: the dignity of persons, family, work ... These values were also placed at the centre of the Republic's Constitution, which offered and still offers a stable frame of reference for the democratic life of her people.  A hope therefore that is founded on memory, grateful memory.

However, we live in a time when Italy and all of Europe are called to confront problems and risks of various kinds, such as international terrorism, which are encouraged by fundamentalism; the phenomenon of migration, increased as a result of wars as well as serious and persistent social and economic imbalances in many parts of the world; and the difficulty faced by younger generations as they strive to find stable and dignified work, the experience of which contributes to their mistrust in the future and does not favour the birth of new families and children.

Nonetheless, I am pleased to note that Italy, through the generosity of its citizens and the commitment of its institutions, and calling upon her abundant spiritual resources, is working to transform these challenges into occasions for growth and new opportunities.

Among these efforts, I am convinced of this truth by the welcome that has been extended to numerous refugees who have arrived on our coasts, by the work of first responders including those on board ships in the Mediterranean and the commitment of many volunteers, including various associations and ecclesial bodies and a widespread network of parishes.  There is also evidence of Italy's abundant international efforts to promote peace, security and cooperation between various States.

I also wish to recall the strength of faith with which the people of Central Italy, affected by earthquakes have lived this dramatic experience, including many examples of fruitful collaboration between ecclesial and civil communities.

The way in which the State and the Italian people are dealing with the migration crisis, together with the efforts being extended in order to help those who have been affected by earthquakes, are expressions of sentiments and attitudes which find their most genuine source in the Christian faith, which has shaped the character of Italians and which shines most brilliantly in moments of greatest drama.

As far as the vast and complex phenomenon of migration is concerned, it is clear that a few nations cannot bear the full burden of ensuring an orderly integration of newly arrived people into their social fabric.  For this reason, it is indispensable and urgent that comprehensive and intentional international cooperation be developed.

Among the present issues that most concern those who care about the common good, and this concerns especially those who are public authorities, entrepreneurs and workers' unions, there is the matter of work.  I have been able to experience this matter not in a theoretical manner but in direct contact with people, workers and those who are unemployed, in my various visits throughout Italy, including my recent visit to Genoa.  I repeat my call for creating and accompanying processes that will furnish new opportunities for dignified work.  Youth unemployment, poverty, the difficulty that young people encounter in attempting to create families and to have children all find a common denominator in the insufficient opportunities for gainful employment that are to be found.  At times, situations are so precarious and so insufficiently remunerated that they do not allow people to undertake serious planning for their futures.

An alliance of synergies and initiatives is needed in order for the necessary financial resources to be placed at the service of this objective which is far-reaching and of great social value.  They should not be distorted and dispersed in predominantly speculative investments which have not had the benefit of long periods of design, or insufficient consideration of the true role and intent of the investor.  Otherwise, in the final analysis, they would fall prey to weakness and an instinct to flee before the challenges of our time.

A stable work environment, along with a committed family-friendly policy are the first and most important parts of creating a place where people-in-relationship with one another can be formed. These are the conditions for authentic and sustainable development and for the harmonious growth of a society.  Together, they form two pillars which lend support to the common home and which strengthen this common home in order that it will be able to face the future with a spirit that is respectful and not fearful, but rather creative and confident.  New generations have the right to be able to journey toward important goals and to reach their chosen destinies, in order that, driven by noble ideals, they may find the strength and the courage to carry out the sacrifices needed in order to reach their goals, to build a future worthy of man, including relationships, work, family and society.

To this end, everyone who has political or administrative responsibilities should expect to work patiently and humbly toward a common good, which seeks to strengthen the ties between people and institutions resulting from tenacious weaving and from ongoing commitment to developing true democracy and to solving questions that no one can pretend to resolve alone due to their inherent complexity.

The Church in Italy is a vital reality, strongly united to the soul of the country, to the feelings of its people.  It experiences the joys and pains, and seeks as far as it is possible - to alleviate sufferings, to strengthen social bonds, to help everyone to work toward the common good.  Even in this respect, the Church is inspired in its teaching by the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes which called for collaboration between various ecclesial communities and political communities since they are both at the service of the same human persons.  A teaching that was consecrated, in the revision of the Concordat of 1984, in the first article of the Accord, where the commitment of the State and the Church is formulated in mutual collaboration for the promotion of mankind and the good of the country.

This commitment, with reference to the principle of distinction affixed in Article 7 of the Constitution, expresses and promotes at the same time a particular form of secularism, not hostile and conflicted, but friendly and collaborative, albeit in strict distinction according to the proper competences belonging to political and religious institutions.  A laity that my predecessor Benedict XVI referred to as positive.  And we cannot help but observe how, thanks to this relationship, the state of relationships between Church and State in Italy is excellent, with advantages both for individuals and for the entire national community.

Italy therefore has the unique burden and the honour of having, in its own sphere, the seat of the universal government for the Catholic Church.  It is evident that, despite the guarantees furnished by the Treaty of 1929, the mission of the Successor of Peter would never be possible without the cordial and generous availability and collaboration furnished by the Italian State.  There may also have been another demonstration of this collaboration during the recent extraordinary Jubilee, which say many of the faithful come to Rome, to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, in a spirit of reconciliation and mercy.  Despite the insecurity of the times that we are currently living, the jubilee celebrations took place quietly and with great spiritual benefit.  The Holy See is fully aware of the great commitment ensured by the Italian State and for this ongoing commitment, she is grateful.

Mister President,

I am certain that, if Italy were to use all of her spiritual and material resources in a spirit of collaboration between her various civil components, she would discover the right path toward ordered development and toward the establishment of procedures for governing that are most appropriate for addressing the phenomena and problems that she is facing.

The Holy See, the Catholic Church and her institutions assure, in the distinctions of roles and responsibilities, their active collaboration in view of the common good.  In the Catholic Church and in the principles of Christianity, whose has enjoyed a rich and long-standing history, Italy will always find the best ally for the growth of society, for her concord and for her true progress.

May God bless and protect Italy!

Impromptu words offered by Pope Francis 
to children in the gardens outside the Quirinale Palace

Dear young children, thank you very much for being here.  Thank you for your song and also for your courage.  Keep on going forward with courage, always continuing on the way!  It is an art to always keep climbing.  It is true that in life there are difficulties - you suffered so much as a result of the earthquakes - you fell down, but I have in my mind a song from the mountains: In the art of climbing, success is not judged by the number of times you have fallen, but by the number of times you did not remain fallen down.  Always keep going, always repeat this word: get up, and keep going!

May the Lord bless you!
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