Pope Francis met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Vatican Saturday morning. It was their first meeting since the president’s election on 3 February.
The orderly development of “a civil, pluralistic society requires” that the “authentic spirit of religion” not be “confined” to “personal conscience but that its significant role in the construction of society is recognized,” said Pope Francis in his remarks to the Italian president.
In other words, Pope Francis is saying that the church does not place a high value on personal conscience as the final word on what individuals believe and what they do. He is also trying to spin personal conscience as confining, by suggesting that society needs the church to fully develop. Keep in mind that it was the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages that prevented society’s growth and development and kept the people in darkness.
“The Church offers everyone the beauty of the Gospel and its message of salvation and, to carry out its spiritual mission, it needs conditions of peace and calm, which only public authorities can promote,” the pope said, reflecting on the collaborative relationship between the Holy See and the Italian state, as defined by the Lateran Pacts and the Italian Constitution.
Pope Francis is saying that the church is the source of the gospel, not the Bible, not Jesus Christ. The state is to provide limits to personal freedom so that the church has a peaceful environment to flourish. In other words, the civil authorities are to prevent disruptive elements from destabilizing or opposing the Catholic Church.
“On the other hand,” continued Pope Francis, “public authorities—who are primarily expected to create the conditions for a just and sustainable development, so that civil society can develop all its potentialities—can find a valuable and useful support for their action in the commitment and loyal collaboration of the Church,” he said.
In a just and sustainable development, the pope is referring to the definitions placed on those words by the Catholic Church.
Though independent, church and state share “the common responsibility” of meeting people’s “spiritual and physical needs…with humility and dedication,” he said.
The Pope spoke of the impact of [Catholic} Christianity on Italian culture, including art, architecture, customs and family life. He emphasized the need to care for the environment and to develop employment opportunities for Italian youth.
He also expressed gratitude for Italy’s commitment to welcoming numerous migrants who land on the country’s shores and urged Italian authorities to petition the European and international communities for greater commitment to assistance in the area of migration.
Italy wonders after… See Revelation 13:3.