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Pope John Paul II speaks on La Pira



I am happy to bid you welcome to this meeting, which is taking place within the context of the celebrations for the centenary of the birth of Professor Giorgio La Pira. My greetings go out to each one of you and to the Cities which you represent. I especially greet Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, Archbishop of Florence, as well as the Mayor of that city and Chairman of the ANCI, Sig. Leonardo Domenici, whom I thank for the words he addressed to me with reference to the service rendered by Giorgio La Pira to the cause of brotherly cohabitation between the nations. And apropos of that, I much appreciate it that in order to give tangible remembrance to his efforts to encourage friendships between those peoples who trace themselves back to Abraham – Jews, Christians and Muslims – your Association has decided to offer a concrete contribution to the “Caritas Baby Hospital” in Bethlehem.

I here express my heartfelt appreciation of this generous gesture, which does honour to the memory of Giorgio La Pira, an outstanding figure in the politics, economy, culture and spirituality of the century just concluded. 

In the presence of all the World Leaders he staunchly expounded his ideas as a believer and a lover of peace, urging his hearers to make a communal effort to promote that fundamental good in many different fields: in society, in politics, in the economy, in cultures and between religions.

In the theory and practice of politics La Pira felt the need to apply the methodology of the Gospel, inspired by the message of love and forgiveness. Emblematical of this are the “Christian Conferences for Peace and Civilization”, which he promoted in Florence from 1952 to 1956, with the purpose of encouraging friendship between Christians, Jews and Muslims.

In a letter to his friend Amintore Fanfani he wrote words of surprising relevance even today: “Politicians are civil guides to whom, by means of the changing techniques of the times, the Lord entrusts the mandate to guide the peoples towards peace, unity, the spiritual and civil betterment of each people and of all together” (22 October 1964).

La Pira’s was an extraordinary experience as political figure and as believer, capable of combining contemplation and prayer with social and administrative activities, with a special feeling for the poor and the suffering.

Dear Mayors, may this luminous example of his inspire your daily options and actions! Following the example of Giorgio La Pira, place yourselves at the service of your communities, with special attention to the younger age-groups, while also encouraging their spiritual development. Do not fail to cultivate those human and Christian values which compose the rich idealistic patrimony of Europe. It has given rise to a civilization which in the course of centuries has furthered the growth of genuinely democratic societies. Without ethical foundations democracy runs the risk of deteriorating over time and even of disappearing.

Thanks to the contribution made by all, the dream of a better world can come true. May God grant it to humanity to see this prophesy of peace fulfilled!

With this hope I couple prayer, and with all my heart I bless you all.