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Convergence issue on Democracy

On February 8th, 2018 the Neue Zürcher Zeitung gave an article dealing critically with the coalition treaty negotiated the day before between CDU/CSU and SPD the title “More state – less freedom”. Neither the coalition treaty not the criticism is of interest here. I would rather like to direct your attention and your interest towards the connection between state and freedom insinuated in that title. If that title is based on a quasi-physical model of communicating tubes, then the inversion “Less state – more freedom” is valid, too, and the comparative formula “The more state – the less freedom” and its inversion are valid as well. That those formulas express the political creed of a lot of contemporaries doesn’t need closer explanation. Hence I want to turn to the question which understanding of freedom on the one hand and state on the other is manifested in those formulas supplementing one another.

The MEIC, Italian member of Icmica Pax Romana, meeting in the monastery of Camaldoli in Tuscany for its annual session, asked itself, by listening and dialogue, how to imagine and implement forms of participation in society and within the Christian community.



                We look with great concern at this historic moment, which is characterised by a crisis of democratic forms of participation and governance and, more deeply, of the very principles of democracy. The idea prevails that governing means opposing interests, thus exasperating rather than healing the social divisions: between Italians and foreigners, between north and south, between poor and rich, between young and old, between those who have guarantees and those who have not, between national needs and European responsibilities ...

We are aware, as men and women who care about civil and democratic life, that we have responsibilities in not having always grasped the extent of this process of degradation of democracy. As Christians and citizens we therefore consider it urgent:
- to rediscover those values and that civil passion that inspired the moment of the country's democratic construction when it was possible to combine a political vision of the common good with skills;
- to actively participate again in the social and political debate, convinced that, in the confrontation between different instances and in the search for adequate mediation, a cohesive civil community is built which is open to the future;
- to commit ourselves to building itineraries of political culture, relaunching the European project on a popular and institutional level for an inclusive coexistence, based on solidarity, in the context of a social market economy;
- collaborate with other associations and lauch study initiatives to meet the global challenges of our time, such as the divorce between truth and communication and the separation between finance and the real economy, seeking possible solutions and promoting good practices at the local level (as also suggested by Pope Francis in Laudato Si');
- promote the introduction of new forms of participation in the system of representative democracy in order to inform, discuss and deliberate on key issues.


Synodality is a constitutive dimension of the Church, a dimension yet to be realized in the ordinary experience of our communities. As Christians we therefore consider it urgent:
- to create networks of relationships, contributing to the development of a model of the Synodal Church that recognizes and values the charisms of each individual;
- to initiate a reflection on the role of the laity in the decision-making processes of the Church, starting from the parish level, valuing the skills of each person in a style of co-responsibility with equal dignity;
- to contribute to fraternal dialogue among the Christian Churches, promoting an exchange of good practices and experimenting with forms of synodality;
- to have formative paths to common synodality for lay people and priests;
- to promote community discernment on ecclesial and civil matters, and to exercise co-responsibility in the decision, execution and verification of the choices made.

Translated from Italian by Philippe Ledouble

    The collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genova and the story of the ship Diciotti waiting for disembarkment of refugees in Sicily: as often happens, many Italians suddenly discovered themselves experts in great infrastructural works and migratory flows and used above all the social medias to convey opinions, invectives, often grudges.

Ethical foundations of the State's authority

1 From anthropology of indigence to justice and from justice to love: the ethical foundation of authority and participation.

   Human life is enclosed within two parentheses that open and close it and that are expressed emblematically in the crying of the newborn and in the rale of the dying. These gestures, whose immediate explanation is in the biological field, can be assumed as a sort of metaphysical parable of the person. They are the sign of a need, not a need focused on a particular good, but, much more radically, they express "the need to be". The person is able to respond to many of his or her needs, but can never eliminate the need for his or her life. The perspective of which we speak is not that of Marx or Freud, for whom man is rich in needs; in these authors the needs are grasped at the moment of their historical expression. In the argumentative line of reflection that is instead presented here, one does not want to deny the existence of needs in the plural, but to emphasize the fact that they find their hermeneutic root in the person as "being of need". 

The recent statements by the Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, on the need to “census” the Roma present in Italy, accompanied by regret at the impossibility of expelling those of Italian nationality, arouse not only astonishment but also concern and challenge us, as citizens and as Catholic associations who live the reality of ordinary people every day, to adopt a position that we believe necessary.

The choice to use such arguments to find political consensus seems even more serious because it is carried out in the Italian context, which has recently been fuelled by fears, threats of alleged invasions, resentment and anger against "the other". It is an approach that recalls the ghosts of a past that we thought far away, and that instead in our country, as in the rest of Europe, reappears with the face of new sovereignties. There is a risk of passing on the idea, unacceptable because it is false, that belonging to a culture automatically means behaving outside the law and therefore finding no place in our social fabric.

Building a policy for Italy by choosing the convenient strategy of continually identifying "enemies" against whom to oppose, be they migrants, stepmother Europe and now the Roma, perhaps demonstrates a skill in tactics, but unfortunately reveals intellectual and political poverty that we fear will have to be paid in the future by the country.

Translated from Italian original by Philippe Ledouble.


   The political events of recent months in Italy have revealed a change, not only in the political forms and orientations that characterize the new government, but also in the conscience of the country. We have cultivated for many years the idea that Italians, apart from their defects, were still a hospitable people, open to Europe, capable of dealing seriously with the difficult moments of its history. Today everything seems overturned, as if a great anxiety were eroding our thoughts and changing our beliefs: the processes of globalization and the financialisation of the economy seem unmanageable to us and generate serious social inequalities, and therefore produce in us the need for a defense, which increasingly takes the character of closure. And it is the same mechanism by which we live the migratory phenomena, which we would like to do but we cannot regulate as we like: it is not enough to say that the numbers of migrants in our country are relatively small (also compared with other European countries), because the perception is different. In this situation, which is no different from that of many other realities present in Europe and the United States, the ideal and cultural references on which society was based and on which politics drew have also changed.

Davide Casaleggio, member of the "Five star movement", gave an interview on the overcoming of representative democracy and on Parliament, which will soon become useless, was welcomed by a predictable and vast rag of clothes, starting with the political opposition forces. Appeals to the President of the Chamber (and party colleague of Casaleggio) Roberto Fico, vain evocations of Venezuela, and so on. Such reactions are the faithful thermometer of a widespread inability to generate a culturally and politically equipped response to the season just begun.