As Sisters of Charity, we want to give special emphasis to some passages from the Pope’s July 7, 2024 Address. The context of the Address was local – the 50th Social Week of Catholics, in Trieste – but its scope is global. As a charismatic family – Sisters of Charity and Friends of St. Jeanne Antida – we want to return to reflect, to confront this Discourse, to allow ourselves to be involved in “another vision of the world, the common one.”

In this particular historical moment, the future of humanity passes through here: for another and different vision of the world, a common, inclusive vision, nourished “by the courage to think of ourselves as a people”.

To this end,” the pope argues, “the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity remain fruitful. While the welfarist attitude is put in the dock:

“In fact, a people is held together by the bonds that constitute it, and the bonds are strengthened when each person is valued. Each person has value; each person is important. Democracy always requires a shift from partisanship to participation, from ‘cheering’ to dialogue. “As long as our economic-social system still produces one victim and there is one discarded person, there can be no celebration of universal fraternity. A humane and fraternal society is capable of working to ensure in an efficient and stable way that everyone is accompanied on the path of their lives, not only to provide for basic needs, but so that they can give their best, even if their performance is not the best, even if they go slowly, even if their efficiency is unremarkable.”

Everyone should feel part of a community project; no one should feel useless. Certain forms of welfarism that do not recognize the dignity of people … I stop at the word welfarism. Welfarism, only in this way, is the enemy of democracy, it is the enemy of love of neighbor. And certain forms of welfarism that do not recognize the dignity of people are social hypocrisy. Let us not forget this. And what is behind this distancing from social reality? There is indifference, and indifference is a cancer of democracy, a non-participation“.

The courage to think of ourselves as a people requires involvement, active, conscious, creative participation in initiating and accompanying processes of change from an inclusive and responsible vision “of the whole.” This time in the dock are defense of privilege, identity choices, ideological protests:

“The second reflection is an encouragement to participate so that democracy resembles a healed heart. It is this: I like to think that in social life it is necessary so much to restore hearts, to restore hearts. A healed heart. And for that it is necessary to exercise creativity. If we look around, we see so many signs of the Holy Spirit’s action in the life of families and communities. Even in the fields of economics, ideology, politics, society.

Think of those who have made room within a business for people with disabilities; workers who have given up one of their rights to prevent the dismissal of others; renewable energy communities that promote integral ecology, even taking on families in energy poverty; administrators who foster birthrates, jobs, schools, educational services, accessible housing, mobility for all, and the integration of migrants. All these things do not fit into a politics without participation. The heart of politics is doing participation. And these are the things that participation does, a taking care of the whole; not just charity, taking care of this or that …, no: taking care of the whole!

Fraternity makes social relationships flourish; and on the other hand, caring for one another requires the courage to think of oneself as a people. It takes courage to think of oneself as a people and not as me or my clan, my family, my friends. Unfortunately, this category-“people”-is often misinterpreted and, “could lead to the elimination of the very word “democracy” (“government of the people”). Nevertheless, to affirm that society is more than the mere sum of individuals, we need the term “people”” which is not populism. No, it is something else: the people. Indeed, “it is very difficult to design something great in the long run if you do not get it to become a collective dream.” A democracy with a healed heart continues to nurture dreams for the future, puts into play, calls for personal and community involvement. Dream the future. Don’t be afraid“.

The pope then addresses Catholics in particular, emphasizing the full extent of their contribution in the public debate because they are capable of making proposals fueled by civic passion. This time in the dock is marginal faith, private faith that is resolved in worship and enclosure among like-minded people:

“As Catholics, on this horizon, we cannot be content with a marginal, or private faith. This means not so much to be heard, but above all to have the courage to make proposals for justice and peace in the public debate. We have something to say, but not to defend privileges. No. We need to be a voice, a voice that denounces and proposes in a society that is often mute and where too many have no voice. So many, so many have no voice. So many. This is political love, which is not content to treat the effects but seeks to address the causes. This is political love. It is a form of charity that allows politics to live up to its responsibilities and get out of the polarizations, these polarizations that immiserate and do not help to understand and address the challenges.

To this political charity the whole Christian community is called, in the distinction of ministries and charisms. Let us form ourselves to this love, to put it into circulation in a world that is short of civil passion. We must recapture the civil passion, this, of the great politicians we have known. Let us learn more and better to walk together as God’s people, to be leaven of participation in the midst of the people of which we are a part. And this is an important thing in our political action, even of our pastors: to know the people, to get close to the people. A politician can be like a pastor who goes before the people, among the people and behind the people. In front of the people to signal the way a little; in the midst of the people, to have a nose for the people; behind the people to help the laggards. A politician who does not have the sniff of the people is a theorist. He lacks the principal.

Let the Catholic laity not lack the ability to “organize hope.” This is your task, to organize. Organize also peace and the projects of good politics that can arise from below. Why not relaunch, support and multiply efforts for a social and political formation that starts from young people? Why not share the richness of the Church’s social teaching? We can provide places for discussion and dialogue and foster synergies for the common good. If the synodal process has trained us in community discernment, let the horizon of the Jubilee see us active, pilgrims of hope, for the Italy of tomorrow. As disciples of the Risen One, let us never stop nurturing trust, certain that time is superior to space. Let us not forget this.

So many times we think that political work is taking spaces: no! It is betting on time, initiating processes, not taking places. Time is superior to space, and let us not forget that initiating processes is wiser than taking spaces.

I recommend that you, in your social life, have the courage to initiate processes, always. It is creativity and also it is the law of life. A woman, when she gives birth to a child, starts a process and accompanies it. We in politics must also do the same.

This is the role of the Church: to involve in hope, because without it we administer the present but do not build the future. Without hope, we would be stewards, balancers of the present and not prophets and builders of the future”.