Address of Pope Francis to H. E. Mr. Giorgio Napolitano
President of Italy

8 June 2013 

...In the world today freedom of religion is often talked about rather than put into practice. Indeed, it is forcibly subjected to threats of various kinds and not seldom violated. The serious affronts inflicted on this primary right are a source of grave concern and must see the unanimous reaction of the world’s countries in reaffirming the intangible dignity of the human person, against every attack. One and all are duty bound to defend religious freedom and to promote it for everyone. The shared protection of this moral good is also a guarantee of the entire community’s growth and development...

...In this certainly far from easy context it is fundamental to guarantee and develop the overall structure of democratic institutions to which in these past decades Italian Catholics have made a crucial, loyal and imaginative contribution. It is urgent that a new view of political commitment develop, especially among young people. It is also urgent that believers and non-believers alike collaborate in promoting a society in which injustice in all its forms may be surmounted and individuals, each and every one, be accepted and permitted to contribute to the common good as befits their dignity and bringing their skills to fruition. The gap between the letter and the spirit of the systems and the democratic institutions, as yet to be recognized, demands the commitment of all those involved, if they are to bridge it anew each time. It is also our duty as Catholics to work harder and harder in a serious process of spiritual conversion to come closer every day to the Gospel that spurs us to carry out an effective practical service to individuals and to society.