(Vatican Radio) – The orderly development of “a civil, pluralistic society requires” that the “authentic spirit of religion” not be “confined” to “personal conscience but that its significant role in the construction of society is recognized,” said Pope Francis in his remarks to the Italian president.Pope Francis met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Vatican Saturday morning. It was their first meeting since the president’s election on 3 February.“The Church offers everyone the beauty of the Gospel and its message of salvation and, to carry out its spiritual mission, it needs conditions of peace and calm, which only public authorities can promote,” the pope said, reflecting on the collaborative relationship between the Holy See and the Italian state, as defined by the Lateran Pacts and the Italian Constitution.“On the other hand, public authorities—who are primarily expected to create the conditions for a just and sustainable development, so that civil society can develop all its potentialities—can find a valuable and useful support for their action in the commitment and loyal collaboration of the Church,” he said.Though independent, church and state share “the common responsibility” of meeting people’s “spiritual and physical needs…with humility and dedication,” he said.The Pope spoke of the impact of Christianity on Italian culture, including art, architecture, customs and family life. He emphasized the need to care for the environment and to develop employment opportunities for Italian youth.He also expressed gratitude for Italy’s commitment to welcoming numerous migrants who land on the country’s shores and urged Italian authorities to petition the European and international communities for greater commitment to assistance in the area of migration.
1 Peter 3:15, 16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”GC 610 – “Persecution in its varied forms is the development of a principle which will exist as long as Satan exists and Christianity has vital power. No man can serve God without enlisting against himself the opposition of the hosts of darkness. Evil angels will assail him, alarmed that his influence is taking the prey from their hands. Evil men, rebuked by his example, will unite with them in seeking to separate him from God by alluring temptations. When these do not succeed, then a compelling power is employed to force the conscience.”