Letter to the Faithful of Liguria

Author: Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi


Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Genoa


Technology created new global economy; respect person, family, town, church school in Global society

Here is a translation of the Letter, which was written in Italian by the Archbishop of Genoa, with the Bishops of the region.

Dear Faithful of the Churches of Liguria,

We greet you with the words of the Apostle Paul: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor 1,3).

Among the many voices that are raised around G8, we want to speak as Bishops of the Ligurian Region, where the meeting will be held. We do it with this letter, letting you share in some pastoral concerns.

Faith guides and enlightens discernment especially for an event like the meeting of G8

1. In doing this, we are moved by faith in God. Our faith sheds light on the problems presented by G8. It reveals the design of God, Creator and Father. He wants humanity to form one family, in which all people are recognized as entitled to the same rights and obligations, with a common and identical personal dignity. To do so, God puts in hearts the moral law that binds them to live according to justice, solidarity and love.

It is Jesus Christ, the "heart" of the faith, who has definitively revealed the immeasurable greatness of the personal dignity of each person. In Jesus Christ, as the Second Vatican Council writes, "Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed ... has been raised in us to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man (Gaudium et spes, n. 22). Jesus Christ is the foundation of the unity of the human race as he is the living principle, with the gift of his Spirit, of the new commandment of charity, the supreme norm of social coexistence.

Our pastoral concern directs us to address those who are hosting G8 and are involved in it; both for the problems and difficulties of their daily lives as far as home, work and travel go, and more for the need to reflect on the issues the event raises.

2. G8 is an occasion that should awaken a strong sense ofresponsibility because it will address important and crucial problems that refer to the phenomenon of the current globalization and the future as well.

The security needs and a responsible dialogue between the authorities and outspoken citizens that took place in recent weeks, must not make us lose sight of the expectation linked to G8: to answer the serious imbalances and injustices existing in the world and made more acute by uncontrolled globalization.

The eight Governments meeting here are a minority of the world and cannot speak for the whole, but their meeting is important for the discussion of the great problems of the globe. It is a meeting that will decide what commitment the eight most advanced countries will take regarding the growth of the decidedly poor economies, and also what they will do to protect the environment.

Need to awaken with great urgency a new global morality to deal with serious problems

3. As Bishops, we feel strongly the need to reawaken a new 'morality' in everyone with great urgency, beginning with those responsible for government. The need becomes more urgent when one considers the tragic problems in the economic, financial, health care, social, cultural, environmental and political orders. They are connected with the kind of globalization that does not respect the fundamental human rights of every human being.

They are problems that cannot fail to challenge everyone's conscience, especially those who have the leading role in setting directives for the development of peoples and who have greater access to instruments for guiding this development.

Therefore, we wish to call upon the Heads of State and of Governments themselves, who will be meeting in Genoa. Since they are aware of their influence on the political, economic, social and environmental destiny of the globe, they should know how to listen to the cry of the many peoples of the world.

They are poor peoples whose fundamental human rights have been trampled upon, who have been deprived of the minimum economic means for subsistence, who lack instruction, who are prevented from freely participating in social life, and are stricken by famine, disease, violence and war. We are therefore convinced that the first priority on G8's agenda should be the battle against poverty.

The poor peoples are young peoples: the majority of young people on this earth! And among human rights, there is a right for the young to hope, a right to build—with the generosity and courage that young people draw from hope—for themselves and for the world, for a profoundly different future, than the world which welcomed them.

Justice only exists when human rights are respected and promoted

4. We want to make ourselves the voice of these peoples, the young and poor. We want to invoke justice and solidarity for them. But justice—a fundamental and indispensable pillar of human coexistence—can only exist where the human rights, not only of some but of all, are defended and promoted, starting with the rights of the most marginalized. Only in this way can we progress towards true democracy, where all enjoy equality and participation.

The same justice needs a soul to make it live and this is solidarity: a strong solidarity that is not "a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far" but "determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (Sollicitudo rei socialis, n. 38). Solidarity, in the context of the globalization under way, must be implemented on a global scale. Justice and solidarity must obey the principle of subsidiarity that calls for the operation of the various subjects—persons, groups and initiatives—which make up civil society.

Globalization is a mixed blessing

5. The actual process of globalization—especially in the economic, financial and technological spheres—is really a mixed blessing because, while it brings peoples closer, it also generates intolerable forms of marginalization that exclude the poorest people.

Many say rightly that globalization must be "governed". By whom, if not by man himself, called not to suffer the processes of history but to direct them? The human person is called to govern globalization "as human person" and "in the service of the human person", which means with the criteria of rationality and responsibility. As the Pope has said: "Globalization, a priori, is neither good nor bad. It will be what people make of it. No system is an end in itself and it is necessary to insist that globalization, like any other system, must be at the service of the human person; it must serve solidarity and the common good" (Address to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, 27 April 2001, n. 2; L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 2 May 2001). This is what happens, especially with "government" by politics, law and ethics.

Political leaders need to regulate a process dominated by economics, bending it to the demands of justice

We address political leaders, so that—by their total recreation of instruments and institutional models adaptable to the present urgencies and difficulties—they should realize forms of intervention able to "regulate" a globalization that is dominated by the new economy-finance, beyond ethical reference to justice and solidarity. Governments should be aware of their responsibility to serve the universal common good, doing their utmost in the battle against poverty, starting with the reduction of the poor countries' foreign debt.

Economic leaders need to recover the link between finance, ethics and economics in respect for person in society

We also address economists and financiers, so that they may know how to recover the original link between finance, ethics and economics. It is a link rooted in the status of the human being and recognizable in the "productive economy" in which finance originates and is legitimized. As experience teaches us, respect for ethics is an advantage for economic growth. It may not be an advantage in the short term to which finance of a speculative order would accustom us, but certainly in the long term. Ethics belongs to the human dimension and offers the only legitimate terms by which to judge the quality of economic and business initiatives.

The tragic gap between North and South spawns a new form of apartheid

6. Politicians and economists are responsible for reflecting on the probable outcome of widening further the tragic gap that divides the North from the South. There is a chasm dividing the world and spawning a new kind of apartheid. It thrives on a concentration of the world's riches in the hands of a few individuals or multinational corporations.

When we turn to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, with the present day phenomenon of globalization, the parable should be read in global terms: here are a few rich persons "who sit down to a banquet", "clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day", who do not even notice the poverty that surrounds them, there is the immense crowd of "Lazaruses", "lying at his gate, full of sores, desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table" (cf. Lk 16,19-21).

It is easy to realize the dehumanizing effects of these kinds of injustice. The dignity of man to whom everything is denied, is suffocated and cancelled by poverty. Our humanity shrivels and becomes sterile by regularly turning a deaf ear to the voice of conscience. The path to mature democracy is blocked. The economy suffers a serious loss, deprived of the talents of those who could be working and starting new industries and future markets for products.

Cultural conversion for everyone: change view of poor people as passive and inactive

7. These reflections, however, must include everyone and must make us reflect on where we are. Through an indispensable journey of "cultural conversion", it is urgent that we overcome the unjust idea of poor people, seen as mere passive subjects or the targets of humiliating almsgiving—like the "crumbs" that fell from the rich man's table—and that we direct our efforts instead, to large-scale programmes to help the poor recover a personal sense of responsibility and learn to take initiatives that bring about their own social and economic self-advancement.

Reason and experience indicate the inadequacy of the analysis of the present phenomenon of globalization and the sterility of protests and dissent, especially if accompanied by acts of violence that are not open to the formulation of valid alternative proposals. But rightful pressure exerted on others even if they be the so-called "great of the earth"—also lacks credibility and legitimacy when it is not accompanied by the responsible commitment of each one to carry out what he is required to do.

For this, the consciences of all must be awakened and rediscover in themselves the innate voice of the natural solidarity that calls all to sharing; which then calls all of us, inhabitants of the opulent North, to a more sober and austere life, more in keeping with active solidarity with whoever is in need, and more respectful of the social dimension of private property.

It presupposes a strong and urgent educational component, which must see the family and the Christian community as its first and convinced leaders. These, in turn, should be helped by the other "educational agencies", such as school and the media.

In the field of personal dedication, we are grateful to our Christian communities and to all the groups who have welcomed the proposal of the Church in Italy, and responded to her goal of moral sensitization and economic participation on the occasion of the Jubilee, to reduce the foreign debt of two African countries.

Cultivate a twofold gaze: the world and the community in which we live

Along the lines of personal obligation, we invite everyone to cultivate constantly a twofold and holistic view of the world. On the one hand, we must look at the whole world and its problems, taking a truly "catholic" or global stance. On the other hand, we must turn our gaze, sharpened by love, to the community inwhich we live, to the point that we recognize in it the world which in fact becomes present with problems similar to those of our own cities and countries.

It will then become possible for each of us to devote himself in a responsible and concrete way to humanizing development. It is what happens, for example, when we accept immigrants and the effort to move towards their just integration, with the battle against the old and new forms of poverty that we find within our own walls. The challenge of globalization isan ethical problem for every individual andis taken up first and foremost by working in the many "peripheral" fields where the local challenges that make up the complex phenomenon of globalization are played out.

Reflections on globalization call us to know the content of the Church's social doctrine

8. We truly hope that for all of us Christians the G8 in the region of Liguria will be a precious opportunity to renew our resolve to know better and study in greater depth the content of the Church's social doctrine. TheHoly Father constantly and forcefully calls our attention to the doctrine. Our reflections on globalization and its dangers of deviation from the designs of God and the rights of man are drawn from the Church's social teaching.

In the teaching we find the most timely and complete expression of a thought—and also of a life experience—that is lovingly attentive to the lot of the poor. We would like to affirm proudly: despite the delays and infidelities of her children, the Church has always felt called daily to follow Jesus' unequivocal example, to be close to the poor and the suffering, and to share in their difficulties and anxious cares.

We wish to renew our commitment to be courageouslyfaithful to the preferentialoptionfor the poor, in whose person there is a "special presence" of Jesus Christ, as the Gospel passage on the last judgement recommends to us: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25,40). The Pope reminds us: "By these words, no less than by the orthodoxy of her doctrine, the Church measures her fidelity as the Bride of Christ" (Novo Millennio ineunte, n. 49).

Think of the local missionaries who have gone out to serve in the poorest corners of the globe

We feel the need to thank the Lord, and speak for the many missionaries—priests, religious and lay persons from this area around Genoa—who offer their daily service throughout the world, often in extremely difficult conditions, to the poor populations of the mission countries. The concrete help, which with greater generosity we will be able to assure to missionaries, is also an important way of contributing to the cause of a human and humanizing globalization.

Above all, we feel the need to invoke God, "rich in mercy" to everyone, he never tires of giving us wisdom and courage to carry out the task entrusted to us to build a world that is more united in justice and solidarity. Let us intensify our prayer, especially during the days of G8, making our own the prayer of the Church in the Mass "for the progress of peoples": "O God, who have given all peoples one common origin, and will gather them as one family in yourself; make all men recognize one another as brothers and promote in solidarity the development of every people, so that with the resources you have granted for all humanity, the rights of every person may be affirmed and the human community may experience an era of equality and peace".

Genoa, 24 June 2001, Birth of St John the Baptist

The Bishops of Liguria

(From the Italian original; L'Osservatore Romano, Italian edition, 2-3 July 2001)  

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
18 July 2001, page 2

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