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We need a new people’s associationism with direct representation, the activism of all the citizens, especially that of the Catholics who must acknowledge their responsibility and find, in the prophetic thought of Don Luigi Sturzo, the moral strength and courage for social action.

This is what emerged during the conference “Free from the Powerful. The building site of a Polis”, organized  yesterday in Rome by the association for the education to democracy, solidarity and responsibility, “Italy More”, together with the online newspaper In Terris, on the occasion of the centenary of Don Sturzo’s appointment to the vice-presidency of the National Association of Italian Municipalities, and, the same year, to the General Secretariat of Italian Catholic Action.  The Capitular Hall of San Salvatore in Lauro was crammed with people. A sign of the widespread need among people for “good politics”, genuinely oriented towards the common good. There were the representatives of numerous movements and associations of Catholic background, but not only. Also authorities of the institutions of different political orientation and common citizens. A slap in the face of all those people who say that populism and anarchy have triumphed.

Forty years after the appeal to “the free and the strong”, Don Sturzo made an appeal to the Sicilians, “True and humble”. It was recalled by Salvatore Martinez, president of Rinnovamento dello Spirito and of the Historic House Museum Sturzo. “We are free from the powerful when we are true, because we are in contact with the word free“, Martinez said. “The true Sturzian revolution is the synthesis of the human with the Christian, making the first ones talk to the last ones again. Charity and love represented for Don Sturzo the need for justice”. He paid for his pursuit of truth with exile. “To be a Christian, in politics, for him was synonymous with morality”. Then, Martinez launched his appeal: “Friendship, solidarity, mutual aid are the numbers of Christian humanism. Virtue and competence are used to solve problems, as Aristotle taught. If we follow these coordinates, we will be able to give credit to hope again”.

This is the legacy Don Sturzo has left to our own times: “To form the ruling class of tomorrow. And tomorrow begins next morning”, according to Caesar Mirabelli, president emeritus of the Constitutional Court. “We are free from the powerful if we have the power to be present, make our voice heard, and aggregate”.

Catholic associationism is one of the top priorities of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace”, the Undersecretary Flaminia Giovanelli reported. One of the members of the Congregation of the Holy See, Monsignor Michael Pennisi, postulator of the cause for Don Luigi Sturzo’s beatification who has inserted “the moral question” among the reasons of the Sicilian priest’s heroism of faith. According to Giovanelli, “Don Luigi Sturzo’s understanding of politics is exercise of charity in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church”. Then he added: “This is the time not to take refuge in the sacristies, not to reject politics as something filthy, but dirty our hands to clean it up”.

Hence, this is the value of a “building site” where “to form consciences, often atrofied by  media bombardment”. Don Sturzo’s personality is that of a master builder, a guide, for his courage and determination in defending the Christian human being and building a community”, were the words of Don Aldo Buonaiuto, spiritual counselor, a priest of the Community of Pope John XXIII, director and founder of In Terris. “The challenge of reality invites us all to change. The political ‘party’ model is in crisis, citizens have lost their trust in politicians and institutions. Poverty is growing and there are new poor. Work changes. The number of people who are lonely, confused, with no future, no job, no dignity is increasing. Problems are amplifying, whereas solutions shrink. In particular, we Christians are called to do something more, something extraordinary, for our suffering brothers and sisters, with the courage one can learn in the school of Jesus”. Therefore, “it is time for action and concreteness. The hearts of young people beats for truth, justice, peace”.

To be free from the powerful means to be free from crime. The chief prosecutor of Perugia, Luigi de Ficchy spoke about it. The moralization of public life, which was Don Sturzo’s concern, is “a topical question, yet it dates back to the Kingdom of Italy”. But, “to maintain acceptable levels of morality in public life, justice needs to work well”. First of all, we need to “send those who are corrupt away. Those who have end up before a judge for serious crimes should not be candidates, even if they have not been sentenced”.

Democracy has three “enemies”, according to the vice-president of the movement “Christian identity”, Paolo Maria Floris: “the centralization of the state that stifles free enterprise, capitalism’s domination, and the weakness of moral values”.

“If Don Sturzo had been present today,” probably he would have felt bitterness because of the topicality of his thought, because many of the problems of his time have not been solved yet and the ‘short century’ has lost its best fruits”, concluded Michel Martone, an expert in labour law.

“There are all the necessary premises for us to build a new humanism together. A new way of understanding economy and progress, for a cooperative and supportive society, able to correct the mistakes of a competitive approach”, are the words of Antonio Angelo D’Agostino, the Minister of Environment.

“Push people to involve directly, without proxies, so as to give back value to democracy,” following the example of Don Luigi Sturzo, “the one in love with God and passionate about Man”. This is the purpose of such meetings, the president of ‘‘Italy More’’, Raffaele Bonanni, said. “Many people have organized activities around the personality of Don Sturzo – the president of” Italian More” said -. Abandonment of fertile presuppositions of Sturzian thought are among the causes of the weakening of the Republic and that of the power equilibrium which has led to the supremacy of the higher strata of the strongest over the weakest ones. Democracy evolves or devolves depending on the commitment of the working classes. We are called to “find the political relevance for the weakest sectors of our society, because, when they step back, they make room for the powerful and the conceited”.

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