01-05-2007 - Traces, n. 5
Obedience and...


The Governor of Italy’s Lombardy Region, Roberto Formigoni, describes the reasons for his obedience to the Church. “Obedience isn’t negation of the autonomy of judgment at all. The Pope expresses what corresponds to the heart’s needs”

edited by Alberto Savorana

It seems as though obedience is inversely proportional to freedom. In other words, the free man is he who mustn’t submit to any bonds, or else he’ll become partisan, and will lose his ability to represent and he will lose his objectivity. What is your experience of freedom and obedience?
Authentic obedience is directly proportional to freedom, since, in my vision, freedom is self-realization; it isn’t banally doing what I want, but being able to choose what makes me grow, what goes most to the heart of reality.
Is the man who has no bonds free? Who is man? A being loosened from any bonds? No. The fact remains that man is biologically bound to his father and mother, who brought him into the world. He is bound to those with whom he establishes a relationship of family, with his wife, his children, and then he is bound to his friends, other people. In reality, man is ontologically bound to others. The isolated man is less of a man than the one who has relationships. And hence, once again, obedience is something that makes him follow and grow in his own human nature.

Among Catholics engaged in politics, there are those who say, “I follow the Church when she speaks to me of God, but in the things of the world I follow my conscience. On questions concerning public life, Catholic politicians don’t owe any obedience to any ecclesiastical authorities.” For you as a Catholic, what does it mean to follow your conscience?
What is my conscience? Is it something I’ve formed by myself in absolute isolation? No. I’ve been formed by growing, listening, comparing, and verifying the given of experience, the historical given and that of knowledge, with my fundamental human experiences and with my needs that have formed in the course of my life. My human growth happened and happens within the Church. So when the Church speaks, she expresses what I myself think. The position of the Pope and the bishops, when they faithfully exercise their mission, doesn’t express the “opinion” of the hierarchy to which Catholics must extrinsically conform, but in a clear and evident way–what Catholics themselves think, believe, and feel as good and right concerning public life. Obedience and conviction coincide. Sequela and reason coincide.

“Life, family, and education” are the non-negotiable principles Benedict XVI insists upon in the name of the interests of the Church for the life and destiny of men and women. What place do the Pope’s concerns have in your activity as politician and as governor?
Let me reiterate. On these issues and others, the Pope expresses what I feel to be true and what is true in the life and the history of millions of people, something that corresponds to the natural law, that corresponds to the needs of the heart, the needs of the life of millions of people, including mine. So I can say that the Pope’s concerns are naturally part of my own horizon of judgment.
Even with his reason alone, man can come to the understanding that life is a sacred and inviolable principle, to the recognition that the family–founded on religious marriage or not, heterosexual, basically stable, by and large oriented toward procreation–is an element to defend, that it is good for society and makes it grow. Similarly, man is naturally disposed to judge that education–a free education that aims to help the child’s freedom grow, to help him in an authentic comparison with his environment and its historical significance–is something absolutely positive and necessary.
Legislation and political and administrative activity that aim to defend and foster these non-negotiable principles are secular activities that need no clerical stigma, and that seek the good of society and men.
For that matter, what is the secularism of the State? (I’ll say right off the bat that I’m for the secularism of the State.) A truly secular State is a non-ideological and non-confessional State that espouses no ideology, but respects in its work the culture already existing in the country.