Fraternal Co-operation to Overcome Alcoholism

Author: A.G. Cardinal Cicognani


A.G. Cardinal Cicognani

For the 14th International Symposium on Alcoholism Cardinal Cicognani sent to the President Dr. Gherardi the following letter in which he conveyed the good wishes of the Holy Father.

From the Vatican, June 10th, 1968

Mr. President,

In submitting to the Holy Father the programme of the l4th International Symposium on the prevention and treatment of alcoholism to be held in Milan during these coming days, you expressed the desire to receive from him a word of encouragement. The Holy Father appreciated your request—for two reasons. In the first place he is deeply interested in the work of your Association. Secondly, the city chosen for your discussions is very dear to him. Consequently he gladly extends to you his best wishes for the success of the undertaking.

He is especially pleased to see so many eminent persons of the political, academic and medical world showing their interest in this Study Week, by contributing their technical and practical knowledge, by their solicitude to ascertain the causes and effects of alcoholism and by seeking suitable and effective remedies for this evil from which scarcely any country is immune.

Who can doubt the gravity of the evil? The Church leaves to your technical expertise the task of determining its extent. She is particularly concerned by the harm done by alcoholism to the dignity of individuals and families. Little by little the health of the alcoholic is undermined, his mind is dulled and his will-power greatly diminished. All the noble tasks which constitute the grandeur of a man—his profession, his devotion to his family and society—cease to have any attraction for him. And how many broken homes, children more or less abandoned and stunted in their natural feelings, when one of the parents becomes addicted to alcohol. The effects are also tragic, and indeed culpably so, for those who burden their posterity with seeds of degeneracy,

For this reason the whole of society is involved. It is gravely affected when alcoholism becomes a widespread vice. Not only is there a loss of productive labour, safety on the roads jeopardized, and crime increased, but the very soul of civilisation is menaced—its dynamism, its ideal and its spirituality. One is forcibly reminded of Christ's warning against greed or wealth: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt. 6, 21).

This will indicate the lively interest with which the Church follows the efforts of your Association to focus public opinion on the serious evil of the scourge of alcoholism, and to take effective measures to prevent and control it. Prohibitive measures are certainly necessary. For this a new climate of opinion must be created, and an educational programme undertaken in a manner adapted to social circumstances. But is it not evident that alcoholism itself is often a tragic consequence of overwhelming situations in which human hope is so reduced, human dignity so impaired that a man seeks this lamentable consolation?

There are then social conditions affecting housing, security of work and advancement that call for improvement. Yet alcoholism must be combated in the most radical manner in all those things that debase the worker and reduce him to slavery. It is by assuring man's real development that one will safeguard him from the illusions that too often lead him astray in his weakness and discouragement.

The Church whose attitude is essentially one of hope would wish to encourage every effort to reclaim those who are already victims of alcoholism and to make possible their complete rehabilitation. Undoubtedly it is first of all necessary to appeal to the will of those concerned, to their responsibility as free agents, that they take to heart their own destiny and that of their family.

Their will, however, may often be powerless if it is not sustained by society and by environment. Society can put at the disposition of individuals powerful means to overcome intoxication and for reeducation which make possible a new beginning.

But this action may be ineffective if alcoholics are left to themselves. This is confirmed by daily experience. A network of acquaintances, of friends united for this purpose, proves most efficacious in fraternally helping alcoholics to persevere in their good resolutions. And the Church, as you know, has a special regard for those means which appeal to responsibility and collaboration.

With these sentiments the Sovereign Pontiff wholeheartedly encourages the work of your Symposium and wishes it the fullest success. In addition he wished an abundance of divine blessings on all those who take part in this important reunion—the organizers, the speakers and the audience.

I am happy to convey to you this message, Mr. President, and I avail myself of the opportunity to express to you my own good wishes.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
date, page

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