Pope, Italian president talk migrants, environment, jobs

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Generosity, hard work, solidarity and
a recognition of the dignity of the human person are essential for facing the
major challenges posed by natural disasters, a large influx of migrants and a
crisis in creating jobs, especially for young people, Pope Francis told Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Making a formal visit June 10 to the Quirinal Palace, Italy’s presidential residence,
Pope Francis said he looks at Italy with hope because “the dignity of the
person, family and work” are values that inspired generations of Italians
— including his forebears — and continue to inspire people today.

Using those values to “transform challenges into
occasions for growth,” he said, is seen particularly in “the
welcoming of the numerous refugees who have landed on your shores,” the
rescue work in the Mediterranean carried out by Italian ships and the vast
network of volunteers who assist the newly arrived migrants.

Still, Pope Francis said, it is not right that Italy and a
handful of other countries have been left taking care of so many migrants and
refugees. “It is indispensable and urgent to develop broad and incisive
international cooperation” to assist, resettle and help integrate the new

“Sentiments and attitudes that find their most genuine
source in the Christian faith” also are seen in how Italians responded
when central Italy was struck by strong earthquakes in August and October 2016, the pope said.

Joining him for the visit by Pope Francis, President
Mattarella invited 200 young people from the regions struck by the earthquakes.
The pope and president mingled with them at the end of the visit, shaking hands
and posing for photographs.

In his formal speech, the pope also urged the Italian
government to do more to favor “an alliance of synergies and initiatives
so that financial resources” are devoted to job creation, particularly for
young adults.

Mattarella told Pope Francis safeguarding the environment is
another area where he sees a convergence of Christian values and the democratic
ideal of seeking the common good.

Thanking Pope Francis for his encyclical, “Laudato
Si’,” the president affirmed Italy’s ongoing commitment to the Paris
climate agreement.

“Justice passes through the safeguarding of available
resources and their equitable distribution,” he told the pope.

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