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from issue no. 06 - 2005

A proper collaborative autonomy

The 24th of June 2005 will remain among the historic dates at the palace of the Quirinal, thanks to the official visit to the Italian State by the new pope Benedict XVI. The greeting by President Ciampi and the reply from the Pontiff well express the proper positions of collaborative autonomy between State and Church on the great problems of mankind.
Leafing through the album of memories, I shall note two visits by popes to what had been their palace: Pius XII who went there to implore Italy to remain non-belligerent. Unfortunately he was not listened to. The other memory is of John XXIII who, already undermined in health, significantly received here the Balzan Prize.
Giulio Andreotti
On this page, some moments during the official visit 
of Pope Benedict XVI to the President of the Italian Republic, 24 June 2005. The photos are by Enrico Oliverio. Above, Pope Ratzinger with President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

On this page, some moments during the official visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the President of the Italian Republic, 24 June 2005. The photos are by Enrico Oliverio. Above, Pope Ratzinger with President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi


Your Holiness, in greeting you with joy in the Quirinal Palace, I offer you a heartfelt welcome, certain of interpreting a deep sentiment of the Italian people, confirmed by the presence in this room of former presidents and of the representatives of the major institutions of the Republic.
The Quirinal evokes important moments in the life of the Catholic Church and of Italy; testimonies to its origin and its history are jealously safeguarded here.
I am glad to be able to take up the intense and candid conversation with you, set going last 3 May in the Vatican, a few days after your assumption of the pontifical throne.
Italy experiences the presence in Rome of the Holy See and of the Supreme Pontiff with warm participation.
The Italian people, which experienced with intense feeling the death of John Paul II, to whose memory our affectionate thought now goes, greeted your election to the pontificate with celebration.
You, Your Holiness, are at home in our country: you have shared in the life of Rome and Italy for more than twenty years. In your first encounters with my follow countrymen, in Rome and Bari, you have already felt at first hand the affection of the Italian people for you.
The bond between the Holy See and Italy is an exemplary model of harmonious co-existence and collaboration.
I myself am used to showing my foreign guests of any religion the view of the city from the small tower of the Quirinal, a belvedere in the center of Rome, over which soars Michelangelo’s dome of Saint Peter’s.
I am proud to be able to tell them: there is an other State there, the State of the Vatican City; you are looking at a tangible example of how the quarrels between the States can be settled in the spirit of peace.
With the same pride I affirm, as President of the Italian Republic and as citizen, the secular nature of the Italian Republic. The Italian Constitution, in article 7, lays down: «The State and the Catholic Church are, each in its own order, independent and sovereigns. Their relations are related by the Lateran Pacts».
The renewed Concordat of 1984 clarified and further reinforced relations, based on full respect for principles.
The necessary distinction between the religious creed of the individual and the life of the civic community regulated by the laws of the Republic have consolidated, over the decades, a deep concord between Church and State.
The delimitation of the respective spheres strengthens the capacity of the authorities of the Republic and of the religious authorities to carry out fully their respective missions and to collaborate for the good of the citizens.
We share fundamental values: respect for the dignity and the rights of every human being, the family, solidarity, peace.
I see for myself, on my visits to the provinces of Italy, that this collaboration is rooted, and works with success, in the variegated situations of our country. At its heart, in particular, are the training of young people and help to the needy.
The bishops, the clergy, are deeply involved in the life of Italian society. Voluntary work, solidarity, are a shared legacy of non-believer and Catholic.
Your Holiness, Italy knows it has deep Christian roots, interwoven with its humanistic roots. It is enough to visit its cities, its ancient towns, admire its cathedrals, its art: from Giotto to Dante Alighieri.
The great monastic orders, brought to mind also by the name of Benedict, have radiated spiritual riches from the peninsula as far as the north of Europe.
The Christian and humanist legacy of Italian civilization is a unifying element in European identity.
Italy is one of the founder countries of the European Union; the future of the Italian nation is strictly bound up with it.
This historic project for unity, that has given more than half a century of peace to the people of the Union, is today undergoing a stern test.
The Italian people is facing it with trust, in the full awareness that the unity of Europe is not an utopia, is not an accident of history.
The bond between Italy and the Holy See is also nourishing a growing collaboration in dealing with the problems of the world.
Indifference towards injustice and inequality has contributed and contributes to death and tragedy.
These upheavals, like the hopes burgeoning at the start of the 21st century, are a constant admonishment: people are not extraneous one to another; affluence for the few feeds extremism; there can be no genuine progress without respect for moral principles and the rights of all.
There are values and objectives shared by all people: justice; peace; education; the dignity of woman; the protection of childhood; social and economic progress.
Commitment to the consolidation of an international order, anchored in respect for the human person and the primacy of law, requires intense and constructive dialogue between cultures and religions, in the aim of overcoming inequality and conflicts.
We have more need than ever of the United Nations. The check, next September in New York, on the actuation of the Millennium Declaration will be a solemn occasion for reaffirming co-existence among the nations.
The international community is called upon to give substance to a new cooperation between rich countries and poor countries, to combat poverty, hunger and epidemics.
The Holy See and Italy can contribute, each in its own way, to enlarge the space of reason and dialogue among peoples.
We share in a particular way the ambition to contribute to a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestine conflict; and to restore the Mediterranean to its natural vocation as place of meeting, of dialogue, of conciliation among different cultures and faiths.
Your Holiness, sustained by an ingrained ethical and religious sentiment, convinced custodian of the Constitution of the Italian Republic and of the principles that animate it, I offer you, in confirmation of the deep significance I perceive in this welcome visit, the fervent and affectionate hope that the light of your mind and the warmth of your heart may accompany you in the felicitous performance of your apostolate of justice and peace among all peoples, of harmony among all civilizations.

President Ciampi speaking with Pope Benedict XVI 
in the Pauline Chapel

President Ciampi speaking with Pope Benedict XVI in the Pauline Chapel


Mr President,
I have the joy today of reciprocating the most cordial visit that you were pleased to pay me as Head of the Italian State last 3 May on the occasion of the new pastoral service to which the Lord has called me. First of all, therefore, I would like to thank you and through you, to thank the Italian People for the warm welcome they have accorded me from the very first day of my pastoral service as Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the universal Church.
For my part, I assure the citizens of Rome and then the whole Italian Nation of my commitment to do my utmost for the religious and civil good of those whom the Lord has entrusted to my pastoral care. The proclamation of the Gospel which, in communion with the Italian Bishops, I am called to make to Rome and to Italy, is not only at the service of the Italian people’s growth in faith and in the Christian life but also of its progress on the paths of concord and peace. Christ is the Saviour of the whole person, spirit and body, his spiritual and eternal destiny and his temporal and earthly life. Thus, when his message is heard, the civil community also becomes more responsible and attentive to the needs of the common good and shows greater solidarity with the poor, the abandoned and the marginalized.
Reviewing Italian history, one is struck by the innumerable works of charity that the Church, with great sacrifices, set up for the relief of all kinds of suffering. Today the Church intends to journey on along this same path, without any ambition for power and without requesting social or financial privileges. The example of Jesus Christ, who “went about doing good works and healing all” (Acts 10: 38), remains the Church’s supreme norm of conduct among the peoples.
A healthy secularism Relations between the Church and the Italian State are founded on the principle spelled out by the Second Vatican Council, which says: “The political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields. Nevertheless, both are devoted to the personal vocation of man, though under different titles” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 76). This principle was already present in the Lateran Pacts and was subsequently confirmed in the Agreements that modified the Concordat. Therefore, a healthy secularism of the State, by virtue of which temporal realities are governed according to their own norms but which does not exclude those ethical references that are ultimately founded in religion, is legitimate. The autonomy of the temporal sphere does not exclude close harmony with the superior and complex requirements that derive from an integral vision of man and his eternal destiny. Preserving the Christian heritage I am eager to assure you, Mr President, and all the Italian People, that the Church desires to maintain and to foster a cordial spirit of collaboration and understanding at the service of the spiritual and moral growth of the Country; it would be seriously harmful, not only for her but also for Italy, to attempt to weaken or to break these very special ties that bind her to the Country. The Italian culture is deeply imbued with Christian values, as can be seen in the splendid masterpieces that the Nation has produced in all fields of thought and art. My hope is that the Italian People will not only not deny the Christian heritage that is part of their history but will guard it jealously and make it produce new fruits worthy of the past. I am confident that Italy, under the wise and exemplary guidance of those who are called to govern it, will continue to carry out in the world its civilizing mission in which it has so distinguished itself down the centuries. By virtue of its history and its culture, Italy can make a very worthwhile contribution, particularly to Europe, helping it to rediscover the Christian roots that enabled it to achieve greatness in the past and can still serve to deepen the profound unity of the Continent.
Above, the Pope and the President to the end of the ceremony

Above, the Pope and the President to the end of the ceremony

Mr President, as you can easily understand, I have many concerns at the beginning of my pastoral service on the Chair of Peter. I would like to point out some of them which, because of their universally human character, cannot but also concern those who are responsible for government. I am alluding to the problem of the protection of the family founded on marriage, as it is recognized also in the Italian Constitution (n. 29), the problem of the defence of human life from conception to its natural end and lastly, the problem of education and consequently of school, an indispensable training ground for the formation of the new generations. The Church, accustomed as she is to scrutinizing God’s will engraved in the very nature of the human creature, sees in the family a most important value that must be defended from any attack that aims to undermine its solidity and call its very existence into question. Human life, a primary good The Church recognizes human life as a primary good, the premise for all other goods. She therefore asks that it be respected both at its initial and its final stages and stresses the duty to provide adequate palliative treatment that makes death more human. As for schools, her role is connected with the family as a natural expansion of its task of formation. In this regard, save the competence of the State to dictate the general norms of instruction, I cannot but express the hope that the right of parents to choose education freely will be respected, and that in so doing they will not have to bear the additional burden of further expenses. I trust that Italian legislators, in their wisdom, will be able to find “human” solutions to the problems mentioned here, in other words, solutions that respect the inviolable values implicit in them.
Lastly, expressing my hope that the Nation will continue to advance on the path of spiritual and material well being, I join you, Mr President, in urging all the citizens and all the members of society always to live and work in a spirit of genuine harmony, in a context of open dialogue and mutual trust, in the commitment to serve and promote the common good and the dignity of every person. I would like to conclude, Mr President, by recalling the esteem and affection that the Italian People feels for you, as well as its full confidence in fulfilling the duties inherent in your exalted office. I have the joy of joining in this affectionate esteem and trust, as I entrust you and your Consort, Mrs Franca Ciampi, the leaders of the life of the Nation and the entire Italian People to the protection of the Virgin Mary, so intensely venerated in the countless shrines dedicated to her. With these sentiments, I invoke upon you all the Blessing of God, a pledge of every desired good.

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