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Pope reflects on duties of public servants

Catholic World News - October 14, 2011

Civil government has an “almost sacred character,” and must be “exercised with great dignity and a lively sense of responsibility,” Pope Benedict XVI told a meeting of Italian officials on October 14.

As part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification, the Holy Father met with the prefects who serve in each of the country’s 110 provinces. The Pope noted that the precepts—whose office has deep roots in history, tracing back to the Roman empire—have the duty to promote “social cohesion and civil rights.” The Church too has an interest in that effort, and wishes to help “create a firm platform of moral virtues” in society, the Pontiff said.

Public service, the Pope continued, “is not to be conceived as impersonal or bureaucratic, but rather as an act of generous assistance for citizens, undertaken with a spirit of service.” He encouraged the prefects to “combine authority and professionalism in the exercise of your responsibilities, especially at times of tension and discord.”

The Pope suggested that the precepts should pray for the intercession of St. Ambrose—their patron saint, and himself a sometime prefect—“that your work may always serve justice, peace, freedom and the common good.”

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