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from issue no. 04 - 2005

The Pope and the President

The address of greeting by the President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi to the Holy Father, on the occasion of the official visit to the Vatican, on 19 October 1999

The address of greeting by the President of the Italian Republic to the Pope on the occasion of the

The President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi makes a present of a  chalice to John Paul II

The President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi makes a present of a chalice to John Paul II

I am grateful for your paternal concern for Italy. I am grateful too for the kindness and warmth of your welcome and for the other occasions on which we met before this official visit of mine as president of the Italian Republic.
It coincides with the start of the XXII year of your Pontificate and I have vivid memories of the hopes in all our hearts that October 16, 1978 and which you have fulfilled in these years of your mission.
The people of Italy admire your spiritual force, the firmness of your propositions, the profundity of values, the vitality contained in your message of faith which speaks to the conscience of every man. The people listen to your urgings for the most complete forms of justice and solidarity, to your constant appeals to the fundamental value of the human person.
You have highlighted Italy’s contribution to the edification of a “Europe of the spirit” and Italy is well aware that the Christian values are indissolubly entwined with Europe’s growth, with the foundation of the European Union itself and with the new imposing design to strengthen its identity and authority.
Today, to eliminate the causes of the conflicts which have lacerated south eastern Europe, we must pursue true peace in Europe, the kind of peace that embraces all the peoples of this continent within broader frontiers of freedom and justice.
The European Union’s expansion is the principal theme of my visits in Europe and I will resume it with determination in your own homeland, Poland, where I will be next March.
The integration of the peoples of this continent within the European Union is a commitment to ourselves as well as to the countries which are candidates. It is also our duty in honor of the Catholic Church’s determination during the Cold War years to reject the continent’s division and to keep the flame of religious freedom burning, a freedom indivisible from all the other freedoms. And this the Church did with tenacious and untiring commitment, even with its silence.
Politics and economics have done much for the unity of Europe but the impetus they have given must be further strengthened with more appeals to total European citizenship, to a system enriched by values and regulations, protective of minorities, to a social model which is an example to the world, to a culture which will safeguard the historic heritage and the identities of peoples, and guarantee respect for the environment and for the laws of nature. This is the job to be done and it is to be done by fully involving civil society. This is the hope of the younger generations.
The concern Your Holiness has shown for the Mediterranean fully reflects Italy’s own. This sea, which saw the dawn of Christianity, could become the heart of one great Mediterranean community stretching to Africa and Asia. On my visit a few days ago in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, I found confirmation that when peoples of different cultures, religions and lifestyles meet on a basis of dialogue and mutual commitment to solve problems common to them, the encounter can turn out to be an extraordinary opportunity for them all, an extraordinary economic, social and civil opportunity.
The international community is grateful to you for setting the culture of peace at the heart of relations among peoples.
In my address to the Italian Parliament on the occasion of my investiture last May 18, I recalled how Europe’s efforts for peace must feature us as Italians in the front line for we have the honor of co-existing with the Catholic Church, institution of peace supreme, and with you, universal point of reference for the highest of human values.
That we enjoy geographical communion, means that the people of Italy more than any other sense their responsibility to make their voice heard in favor of the rights and dignity of the human person wherever man’s violence to man is manifest. Protection of human rights is a focal point of Italy’s action on the international scene.
The international community has embarked on the construction of a new and more extensive international state of law. We need to apply fully the very many legal tools we already have and to strengthen our institutions. The United Nations’ efforts to prevent conflict, to reinforce the system of human rights protection and the instruments of international law proves that the international system is intent on reacting when wounds are inflicted on innocents by aggressors or by ethnic violence. We are already witnessing the gradual transformation of international law into the rights of peoples.
Italy plays an active role in the global campaign to abolish the death penalty. In 1998 for the first time, no one was sentenced to die in any European country. The next step must be to cancel the legislation still countenancing it. It was decided that Rome would host a new international criminal tribunal, and the global prohibition of anti-personnel mines was also a result of our specific efforts.
Italy has been the driver of the international community’s endeavor to sustain the poorest countries. It has been the promoter of strongly reducing the debt burden of many of these countries. It went further than that and cancelled its own credit, including trade credit owed by the countries worst afflicted by poverty. All Italy asked in return was respect for human rights.
Relations between the Holy See and Italy continue to be intense and constructive. The Church is the bringer of issues and hopes which have permeated Italian society, a society whose core point of reference is the family and its values. The sense of family is profoundly rooted in the Italian people. It is a constituent element of their identity, a patrimony to guard jealously for the good of future generations. Every symptom of crisis in this fundamental unit, such as the low birth rate because of financial difficulties or uncertainty for the future, is a source of concern and calls for appropriate support policies.
President Ciampi pays homage to the body of John Paul II, Vatican City, 3 April 2005

President Ciampi pays homage to the body of John Paul II, Vatican City, 3 April 2005

With only weeks to go before the inauguration of the Great Jubilee, of the Holy Year 2000, my thoughts go to this extraordinary religious event which, as Your Holiness would wish it, will make appeal to the consciences of all men of goodwill to address the problems of the new century in a spirit of brotherhood and commitment.
Never before has humanity had such powerful means at its disposal, means by which to build a world of peace and of wellbeing for all peoples. But never has it run such great risks, risks for its moral fiber, its very survival.
There is great concern that policies designed to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and arms of mass destruction have fallen short of the mark. Economic globalization can benefit everyone but, in the continuing absence of good governance, it will lead to crisis. The advancement of science to the ultimate frontiers of life raises essential questions of ethics and of the very integrity of the human race. This is compounded by increasingly invasive means of mass communication which have the power to undermine - especially in the young - those moral values without which there can be so sound and strong society.
All of these problems are keenly felt by believers and non-believers alike. For everyone who has faith in man and in the faculty given to him to choose Good over evil, they constitute the challenge of the 21st century, the first century of the third millennium after Christ.
Italy is with you in these issues, too. It is with you, pilgrim of peace, untiring voice of consciences, defender of the perennial values and rights of man. Your every word is a light of hope for every man.
I know I express the deepest sentiments of the people of Italy in imparting to you my boundless gratitude and admiration, and in my fervent, sincere hope that you may long continue your apostolate .

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