Benedict XVI Honors a Coherent Politician


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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2009 ( Benedict XVI describes Alcide De Gasperi as a statesman of high moral quality and "great faith" -- a model for politicians of today.

De Gasperi (1881-1954) was the architect of Italy's reconstruction after World War II. Founder in 1942 of the Christian Democratic Party, he is considered, together with the German Konrad Adenauer and the Frenchman Robert Schuman, one of the fathers of the process of European integration.

The Pope spoke about him Saturday when he received in audience members of a foundation that bears his name, led by the statesman's daughter, Maria, and Giulio Andreotti, who was one of his close collaborators.

The Pontiff recognized De Gasperi's "recognized moral uprightness" and his "religious sensitivity." He spoke of his "indisputable fidelity to human and Christian values."

"Formed in the school of the Gospel, De Gasperi was capable of transforming the faith he professed into concrete and coherent actions," Benedict XVI continued. "Spirituality and politics were, in effect, two dimension that converged in his person and characterized his social and spiritual determination."

The Holy Father acknowledged that at times there were "difficulties and even perhaps misunderstandings with the ecclesial world, but De Gasperi never wavered in his adherence to the Church."

"Docile and obedient to the Church," he continued, "he was independent and responsible in his political decisions, without using the Church for political ends and never faltering in his commitment to his upright conscience."

De Gasperi was coherent to such a degree, the Holy Father noted, that "at the end of his life, he could say, 'I have done all that was in my hands to do. My conscience is at peace.'"

Benedict XVI expressed his hopes that "the memory of his experience of government and his Christian testimony be a motivation and stimulus for all those who today direct the future of Italy and other populations, especially for those who take inspiration from the Gospel."