Pope in Trieste: Catholics called to heal ‘wounded heart’ of democracy

By Devin Watkins, 8 July 2024
Pope Francis speaks during the 50th Italian Catholic Social Week in Trieste, Italy, in July 2024. Image: Vatican Media


Pope Francis delivers the concluding address of the 50th Italian Catholic Social Week in Trieste, and calls on the Church to help correct the crisis of democracy through participation and political charity.

On the final day of the annual Italian Catholic Social Week, Pope Francis traveled to the northern Italian city of Trieste on Sunday to share his thoughts on the crisis of democracy.

Speaking to over 900 delegates from dioceses and associations across Italy, the Pope appealed for a democratic process that engages personal and community involvement.

In his address, he recalled that the first Italian Catholic Social Week was held in 1907 and that later editions helped galvanize the Italian democratic process after World War II.

The annual event, which was restarted in 1988, draws on the Social Doctrine of the Church and seeks to offer a Gospel vision of social phenomena.

“Just as the crisis of democracy crosses various realities and Nations,” he said, “so too does the attitude of responsibility towards social transformations call all Christians, wherever they live and work, in every part of the world.”

Participation built on solidarity and subsidiarity

Pope Francis then offered an image of the crisis of democracy as “a wounded heart,” in which corruption and social exclusion can abound and power becomes self-referential and incapable of serving its constituents.

“The very word ‘democracy’ does not simply coincide with the vote of the people but requires creating the conditions for everyone to express themselves and participate,” he said.

Democratic participation, he added, must be instilled at a young age, so that citizens embrace a critical sense “regarding ideological and populist temptations.”

The Pope called on Christians to promote a fruitful dialogue between religion and society, while upholding the dignity of the person.

“The principles of solidarity and subsidiarity,” he said, help build the bonds of democracy, since they encourage participation and overcome indifference, which he said is “a cancer of democracy.”

Fraternity fosters collective aspirations

The Pope went on to uphold the goal of democratic participation with the image of a “healed heart.”

“If we look around,” he said, “we see many signs of the Holy Spirit’s action in the lives of families and communities, even in the fields of economics, technology, politics, and society.”

Fraternity, added Pope Francis, “makes social relationships flourish,” and engenders a spirit of collective aspiration.

“A democracy with a healed heart,” he said, “continues to cultivate dreams for the future, engages, and calls for personal and community involvement.”

Political love holds politics to higher standard

Catholics, said the Pope, must look beyond quick fixes for democracy’s ills and never retreat into a “marginal or private faith.”

“This means not so much demanding to be heard,” he said, “but above all having the courage to make proposals on behalf of justice and peace in the public debate.”

Christian engagement in politics must take on the aspects of “political love” or “political charity,” which allows politics to “rise to its responsibilities and move beyond polarizations”.

“Let us train ourselves in this love to circulate it in a world short of civil passion,” concluded Pope Francis. “Let us learn to better walk together as God’s people, to be leaven of participation among the people to which we belong.”

With thanks to Vatican News and Devin Watkins, where this article originally appeared.


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