The tragic employment situation, the attention to the clergy, the reorganization of the dioceses and the reform of the ecclesiastical courts were the four central themes of the Permanent Council of the Italian Bishops Conference, which took place in Rome. The president of the Italian bishops, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, explained to the press the results of the meeting.
“The bishops want to continue to give voice to people – said the prelate -. People turn to priests and bishops because they know they can be heard and have a wider resonance. We agreed that the employment situation is very serious. In our parishes continues a procession of people who lost their jobs or cannot find one, fine professionals and young people looking for their first job. The Church offers its proximity, so that people do not have to eat the hard and bitter bread of despair and surrender, trying to find new ways and paths.” The archbishop of Genoa spoke of experiences such as the recovery of abandoned land and the formation of cooperatives, as concrete examples. “Clearly, it is the duty of the state and of the entrepreneurs – he added – to create jobs, but the Church cannot hold back.” Not surprisingly, the next Social Week of Catholics, to be held in Cagliari from October 26 to 29 next year, will focus on employment, in particular in the perspective of young people, having as a framework the Church’s social doctrine. Bagnasco is also back on the concept of flexibility, offering the reflections of the bishops: “Certainly, he has his good reasons, but we wondered: is he able to guarantee a life plan? Not to create a state of confusion and uncertainty in people?”
After two years of attention paid to the training of priests, with two meetings and several recommendations dedicated to it, the time has come for conclusions. In the spring will be published a subsidy with three fundamental aspects. The first is the “foundation of our vocation – said Bagnasco – or the relationship with Christ. It may seem obvious but it is not granted. The second aspect concerns the priestly fraternity, or the rediscovery, in an individualistic world, the dimension of communion between us.” In this regard, the Cardinal made some concrete examples: from the a shared table to holidays and free time spent together: “pastoral collaborations come afterwards”. Finally, the administrative aspects: “We are studying the possibility to accompany, support and when possible, to lift our parish priests from administrative burdens.”
In Italy there are 225. The Pope had asked to reduce their number. “Then, the Pope realized – said the cardinal -, talking not only with us, that there cannot be an automatism.” Ultimately, regional episcopal conferences are to complete the audit work and make suggestions that will be presented to the competent Congregation for Bishops at the beginning of the next year.
Some clarifications on the reform desired by the Pope have been accepted; the desire to promote access and gratuity was reiterated, as far as possible, to the courts, in particular with regard to the nullity of marriage. Among the bishops, there are different guidelines on the reorganization but in the meantime, we are beginning to resort to so-called short causes in which the bishop is the judge. Interestingly, from this point of view, is the experience of the archbishop of Genoa himself. “I’ve already had three cases of this kind – he said – and more are on the way. I confess I was a bit of fear: I had never faced such a situation before. We have to remember that there are always people in the flesh behind it all. However, if the preliminary investigation, as in my case, is made with attention to the truth, it is of great help.” All three causes “after reflection and prayer, with different motivations, were resolved by judgments of nullity”.
Cardinal Bagnasco also referred to the upcoming constitutional referendum. The position of the Italian bishops is clear and the cardinal stressed three aspects. The first is that it is a consultation with a unique value that requires a large participation of popular sovereignty. The second is that it is essential that people inform themselves thoroughly, “not through hearsay” because the referendum concerns “the structure of the Republic who do not easily change every day.” Finally, Bagnasco recalled that in this case there is no quorum, hence it is appropriate to express personally. Although the Church has no intention to give any indication on the vote, even on the level of individual pastors.