Pope Francis speaks at the 50th annual Social Week of Catholics in Trieste, Italy, on the morning of July 7, 2024. At his arrival in the northern Italian city, he was greeted by Archbishop Luigi Renna, president of the organizing committee (R), and Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, president of the Italian bishops’ conference (L). / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jul 7, 2024 / 08:06 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday urged Catholics to share their faith in the public square, and to combat political polarization by supporting person-centered democracy.

“Let us not be fooled by easy solutions. Let us instead get passionate about the common good,” he said at a Catholic conference on democracy in the northern Italian city of Trieste July 7.

Francis participated in the last morning of the 50th Social Week of Catholics, an annual meeting of the Catholic Church in Italy aimed at promoting the social doctrine of the Church. The theme of the July 3-7 congress was “At the Heart of Democracy: Participate between History and the Future.”

In his speech, the pope spoke strongly of the importance of democracy — encouraging participation over partisanship, and comparing ideologies to “seductresses.”

“As Catholics, on this horizon, we cannot be satisfied with a marginal or private faith,” the pope said before around 1,200 conference participants at the Generali Convention Center. “This means not so much to be heard, but above all to have the courage to make proposals for justice and peace in the public debate.”

“We have something to say, but not to defend privileges. No. We need to be a voice, a voice that denounces and proposes in a society that is often mute and where too many have no voice.”

“This is political love,” Francis underlined, adding that “it is a form of charity that allows politics to live up to its responsibilities and get out of polarizations, these polarizations that impoverish and do not help understand and address the challenges.”

The Social Week of Catholics congress was held in Trieste, a port city located on a narrow strip of Italian territory in the country’s far northeastern point, bordered by the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia.

Pope Francis arrived in Trieste by helicopter from the Vatican in the early morning July 7. After addressing congress delegates from across Italy, he met briefly with representatives of other Christian traditions and with a group of immigrants and people with disabilities.

The pope then celebrated Mass for an estimated 8,500 Catholics in Trieste’s Unità d’Italia Square before again boarding a helicopter to return to the Vatican.

In speaking about the Christian vision of democracy, the pontiff quoted a 1988 pastoral note from the Italian bishops, which said democracy is meant, “to give meaning to everyone’s commitment to the transformation of society; to give attention to the people who remain outside or on the margins of winning economic processes and mechanisms; to give space to social solidarity in all its forms; to give support to the return of a solicitous ethic of the common good […]; to give meaning to the development of the country, understood […] as an overall improvement in the quality of life, collective coexistence, democratic participation, and authentic freedom.”

“This vision, rooted in the Social Doctrine of the Church,” Pope Francis said, applies “not only to the Italian context, but represent a warning for the whole of human society and for the journey of all peoples.”

“In fact, just as the crisis of democracy cuts across different realities and nations, in the same way the attitude of responsibility towards social transformations is a call addressed to all Christians, wherever they find themselves living and working, in every part of the world,” he added.

The pope also emphasized the importance of combating a culture of waste, as exhibited by a self-referential power “incapable of listening and serving people.”

He recalled the importance of the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity and condemned a certain attitude of “welfare-ism” that does not recognize the dignity of people, calling it “social hypocrisy.”

“Everyone must feel part of a community project; no one must feel worthless,” he said.

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