Meeting in the Vatican with some 150 representatives of companies and cooperatives of the “Progetto Policoro” sponsored by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Pope Francis highlights the urgent need for “better politics” in our war-torn-times.
By Lisa Zengarini
Pope Francis on Saturday praised Italian youths involved in a Church sponsored project aimed at offering support to unemployed and underemployed young people, saying their commitment contributes to a “better politics” close to people’s needs and therefore to building peace in the world.
The Pope was addressing representatives of companies and cooperatives part of the “Progetto Policoro”, a project sponsored by the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) to help young people integrate in the labour market by organizing vocational training programmes, promoting cooperatives and creating intermediaries, such as “community animators”.
War is the failure of politics
Referring to the theme of peace chosen by the project for this year, the Pope highlighted that our war-torn times make the need for “good politics”, that listens to the people and fosters peace, even more urgent today.
“War – he emphasized – is the failure of politics. It makes us touch the absurdity of the arms race and its use for solving conflicts.”
Citing the biblical King Ahab of Israel and his wife Jezebel as an example of the worst politics “which pursues particular interests and uses any means to satisfy them”, and recalling the words of St. Ambrose, Pope Francis insisted that “The politics that exercises power as domination and not as a service is not capable of caring, tramples upon the poor, exploits the earth and reacts to conflict with war.”
On the other hand – he continued – a positive biblical example we can draw from is Joseph, the son of Jacob: “Joseph, who personally suffered injustice, does not seek his own interest but that of the people, pays in person for the common good, becomes a peacemaker, weaves relationships capable of innovating society”.
Tenderness and fruitfulness in politics
These two biblical examples, said Pope Francis, help us to better understand what spirituality should underpin political activity. He focused on two aspects: tenderness and fruitfulness.
Tenderness, he said, “is the love that becomes close” to the least, the weakest, the poorest, while fruitfulness “is made of sharing, of long-term vision, of dialogues, of trust, of understanding, of listening. It means looking to the future and investing in future generations; starting processes rather than occupying spaces”.
The politician is a servant of the community
In light of this, Pope Francis, therefore, urged participants in the Policoro Project to focus not on personal or political gain, but on fostering entrepreneurship, making dreams flourish through promoting people’s participation which, he said, “is the balm of the wounds of democracy.”
Concluding the Pope encouraged them to continue their work “always with the aim of serving” the community.