Cardinal Pietro Parolin and members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation Cardinal Pietro Parolin and members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Cardinal Parolin: Current crises demand global and fraternal responses

The Cardinal Secretary of State inaugurates a 2-day “Centesimus Annus Foundation” meeting as it marks its 30th anniversary with a focus on a culture of encounter and the need give voice to all for the common good.

By Alessandro De Carolis

“In a world dominated by uncertainty, which seeks refuge by withdrawing into the sphere of the private and thus paying no attention to others, (…) more than ever we must make an effort to read and respond to the signs of the times,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin noting that the temptation to withdraw is a risk that even politicians may run.

They too, he added, can be driven to focus on circumscribed private interests rather than on an effort geared towards the vision of a broad common good. “Not to do so leads to approaches that are not inspired by subsidiarity, that is, by concern for those far away, as generally happens in those decisions defined as ‘global’,” he said.

And yet, Parolin continued, there are two factors that can point towards greater cohesion and integration, on which the Pope insists a great deal: “social friendship” and the “culture of encounter”.

Generic appeals for peace are not enough

Cardinal Pietro Parolin centred his speech at the opening of the two-day meeting organised by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation for the 30th anniversary of its foundation on these two values that are dear to Pope Francis.

Addressing participants at the meeting before a papal audience in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, the Secretary of State focused on the term "community", is part of the title of the meeting Memory to build the future: Thinking and acting in terms of community. "By now it is clear to everyone," he observed, " By now it is clear to everyone that the problems, the search for solutions, and the expectations of many of our brothers and sisters have a global dimension and call for equally global responses.” And so, he continued, “In order to work together for the good of the community, generic calls for peace or economic growth or respect for the environment are not enough.”

The two values

The “notion of the common good” must be understood, and perhaps included, Cardinal Parolin indicated, “in order to avoid policies or activities that promote “particular” solutions, since these can create exclusion or prove lost opportunities for everyone.“

Thus, social friendship and the culture of encounter, the Secretary of State argued, offer a useful point of view to achieve a concrete common good, because both are the hallmarks "of an open and future-oriented society".

Social friendship because, he explains, it is by nature inclusive and helps “to plan activities that are inclusive and not limited to one’s own community or native country.” The culture of encounter because, far from stimulating 'sporadic acts of charity' that delude one into believing they eliminate discrimination, is instead a 'way of life' that knows how to truly respect the dignity and freedom of all.

The fulfilment of all

If in John Paul II's Centesimus Annus, published in '91, the Magisterium attributed "great significance to values such as democracy and freedom" at that moment in history, today - Cardinal Parolin noted - the current scenario finds an echo in the reflection developed by Pope Francis in Fratelli tutti, in which he asserts that words such as democracy, freedom, justice or unity " have been bent and shaped to serve as tools for domination, as meaningless tags that can be used to justify any action.”

The weakening of the "complex of values" with which today's political or economic decision-makers must measure themselves against requires, the Secretary of State added, "careful discernment in order rto safeguard general interests". In essence, Cardinal Parolin concludes, it is a question of "responsibility" that directs decisions, and resources, towards "the full realization of all human beings, their growth and their aspirations, based on their dignity and identity.”

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05 June 2023, 15:24