Italy: Europe, future of the parish and politics” “

The six months’ Italian presidency of the EU represents “a very important phase” in the development of the European Union, especially for the approval of the constitutional Treaty, said Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) on opening the permanent Council of Italian bishops (now being held in Rome until 25 September). Ruini endorsed (also on behalf of his fellow-bishops) the Pope’s request that “the deep roots of Europe in Christianity and the role of the Christian Churches be explicitly recognised” in the new Constitution. Focal point of the meeting of Italian bishops is the question of the parish, which will also dominate the agenda of the next general assembly, scheduled to be held in Assisi from 17 to 20 November. To react to the emergence of new, “elective and more flexible modes of association” that risk undermining “the relation between Christian life and territory”, the parishes – said Cardinal Ruini – must give rise to a kind of “integrated pastoral ministry”, in the style of the “unity of mission” that “unites the whole Church” and that sees “a strong signal of hope” in the experience of Catholic Action (which recently reformed its Statutes). Cardinal Ruini’s analysis also embraced the whole range of domestic policy. He said that “a new leaf” needs to be turned over in Italian political life to “curb the wrangling and mud-slinging”. He urged that the institutional reforms be carried forwards “without duress or preconceived ideas”, and that the next budget make due allowance for “the increase in the cost of living”. The president of the CEI also rejected some “unacceptable expressions” recently pronounced by the Northern League against the Church. As for the government’s promised pensions reform, he urged measures determined by “criteria of genuine equity”.

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