A value also for Europe

Southern Italy: the bishops' new document

“The European Union enlargement has posed for Southern Italy new opportunities but also new risks: on one hand, it provided access to broader financial and commercial openings: on the other it increased competition, due to the entrance of low -income Countries, with low labour costs more appealing for enterprises”. This is one of the considerations made in the Italian Bishops’ Conference document titled:” For a United Country. The Italian Church and Southern Italy”, released on February 24, 20 years after the publication of “Development in Solidarity. The Italian Church and Southern Italy”. “Unfortunately statistics”- the Italian bishops say- “show that Southern Italy hasn’t been able to benefit from the new opportunities due to a lack of planning ability and inability to implement projects both at the initial and final phase. Thus a weak social, cultural and economic fabric coupled by poor security measures. Yet its untapped resources could become development opportunities in the vast European market, paving the way to new outlets of Southern enterprises, promoting a new geographic centrality in the Mediterranean”. As virtuoso examples, the text mentions universities and research centres, but also enterprises and administrative bodies, that have carried out a series of agreements with similar coast realities in Europe and Northern Africa”. In this perspective, the Italian Church considers the Mediterranean as a “true strategic option for Southern Italy and the entire Country, within the European path and open to the globalized world”.For a “corporate, realistic and unitary” federalism. “The perspective of rearticulating federally the Country’s set up would be a defeat for everybody, if it were to increase the north-south split. It could however be a step towards democracy, if it were able to appreciate the merits of those who are correctly involved in team-work”. This is Cei’s position on federalism, expressed in the new document. “This type of corporate, realistic and unitary federalism – stated the bishops – would strengthen the unity of the country, renewing the participation of the various regions, aware of the growing connections towards a globalized world”. A “sound federalism”, for Cei, “represents a challenge for Southern Italy and might turn into its advantage, by boosting a righteous thrust in redeveloping the system of social relations, especially through the action of regional governments and municipalities, in taking direct responsibility for the quality of services supplied to citizens, and managing tax returns”. “However”- the bishops warn -“correct implementation of fiscal federalism will not be sufficient to remedy the gap, in incomes, jobs, infrastructural and civil production endowments. For Cei, at a national level “the need for an integrated system in private and public investments with special focus on infrastructures, fight against crime and social integration”. This because: in the Italian Church’s stand ” a mortified Southern Italy weakens and belittles the entire country”. The celebration of 150th anniversary of national unity “reminds us of the precious richness of solidarity together with subsidiarity for all Italians, apart from benefits and values for Europe as a whole”. The Policoro Project. Among the “concrete signs of renewal and hope presented by young people, the bishops cited the “Policoro Project”, started by the Italian church in 1995 “specifically aimed at youth unemployment, through the promotion and support of youth entrepreneurship and building reciprocal ties between Churches of the South and North, backed by cooperation of lay associations inspired to the Church’s social teaching”. Dare the courage of hope: is the conclusion of the new Cei document, which calls all priests “all those working at the service of the Gospel and poor people”, consecrated men and women, families, youngsters but also “men and women of goodwill, creators of justice and peace”. The goal is “to look for the common good respecting the dignity of each person, without giving in to fear and egoism that fuel short-sighted vested interests and weaken our tradition of solidarity”.

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