The Pope has sent a Message to Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference for the occasion of the 45th Social Week of Italian Catholics, which is being held in the Italian cities of Pistoia and Pisa from October 18 to 21 on the theme: "The common good today: a commitment that comes from afar."
After recalling the fact that this year marks the centenary of the first Social Week, the Pope affirms that the theme "still maintains all its importance" and that "it must be considered and promoted also in the context of international relations. Precisely because of the social foundations of human life, the good of each individual is naturally interconnected with the good of all humanity."
The task of lay men and women, writes Pope Benedict, is "to work for a correct ordering of society … and to cooperate in the just organization of social life together with all other citizens, each according to their skills and under their own autonomous responsibility."
The Pope also highlights the importance of anthropological questions including "respect for life and the attention that must be given to the needs of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman."
"These are not just 'Catholic' values and principles, but shared human values to be protected and safeguarded, like justice, peace and the defense of creation."
The Message then goes on to consider the effect of work-related problems on families and young people saying, "when lack of job-security does not allow young people to build their own family, the authentic and complete development of society is seriously compromised." The Pope also invites Italian Catholics to respond to these challenges "not by giving up and withdrawing into themselves but, on the contrary, with renewed dynamism, opening themselves trustingly to new relationships and not neglecting any of the energies capable of contributing to cultural and moral growth."
Finally, Benedict XVI turns his attention to "a specific area" which "stimulates Catholics to question themselves: that of the relationship between religion and politics. The absolute novelty brought by Jesus is that He opened to way to a freer and more human world, with full respect for the distinction and autonomy that exists between what is of Caesar and what is of God."
"The Church, then, if on the one hand she recognizes she is not a political player, on the other she cannot but concern herself with the good of the entire civil community, in which she lives and operates. To that community she offers her particular contribution, forming the political and business classes to a genuine spirit of truth and honesty, with the aim of searching for the common good and not for individual profit."