Vatican 2013-06-08- Religious freedom was among the topics which Pope Francis touched upon Saturday during his meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. In his address to the Italian Head of State, Pope Francis recalled how 2013 marks the 17th centenary of the Edict of Milan, a document which many consider to be the first example of religious freedom being promoted.

“In today’s world, religious freedom is more often affirmed than put into practice”, the pope said. It is often threatened, and not infrequently violated. The serious outrages against this fundamental right are a source of serious concern, and need to be confronted at the global level.

Defending religious liberty and making it available for everyone, Pope Francis said, is everyone’s responsibility. Doing so “guarantees the growth and development of the entire community.”

Pope Francis then turned his attention to the current global crisis. At this time in history, he said, the world is undergoing a “serious and persistent global economic crisis which accentuates economic and social problems, above all placing a burden on the weakest of society.”

Some of the main causes for concern, Pope Francis pointed out, include the weakening of family and social ties; decreasing populations; the prevalence of a way of thinking which values profit more than work; insufficient attention given to younger generations and their formation, which jeopardizes a peaceful and secure future for society.

In such a moment of crisis he said, “there is therefore an urgent need to foster, especially among young people, a new way of thinking with regard to the responsibility of politics,” one where “believers and non-believers can work together to promote a society where injustice can be overcome, and each person can contribute to the common good according to his or her dignity, and make the most of his or her abilities.”

Even in the civil sphere, what the faith assures us is true: we must never lose hope. How many examples of this have we received from our parents and grandparents, who faced the difficulties of their own life with great courage and a spirit of sacrifice!”