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Monday, October 7, 2013
Several events at three-day workshop in the Focolare’s international town of Loppiano, Italy. An evening of open discussion among students of Sophia University Institute, the Minister of Regional Affairs and local authorities

Local communities versus national institutions? Minister of Regional Affairs, Graziano Delrio and Italian local authorities have no doubt. “Today the best resources for changing the country will emerge from small local communities.” The minister made this statement at the LoppianoLab workshop during an event entitled: Safeguarding the Human Person.

On stage also were urban planner Elena Granata and political scientist Alberto Lo Presti, who offered some stimulating ideas to the discussion from the perspective of their respective fields of expertise. The evening’s moderator was Michele Zanzucchi, director of Citta Nuova magazine.

“A city is a very fragile thing,” said Delrio, “it needs to be loved. This is why I believe we need to re-think the city, the community and its culture. For the past 20 years the emphasis has been on  private environments; we now need to reconsider the role and care of the public sections in society where communication and relations are created.” And concerning expectations for solutions to the crises that are placed in national politics. “We’re seeking answers at institutional levels, from where they will never come. The answers are found in society which has an ability for making great things happen.”

While discussing the topic of young people in today’s society, Delrio stated that society needs to overcome a cultural defect towards young people: “Any society that wants to invest in its young people must have the courage to let them make mistakes.” He denounced the lack of resources and ways that would encourage them to be involved and take risks; but he did not deny that society should not be afraid to be demanding of them: “Because that would mean you don’t esteem them.”

The discussion moved from the Italian landscape to consider some prospects for overcoming localism and nationalism in Europe. He showed that he felt optimistic towards the contribution of young people as he presented a challenge: “Soon a generation of sons and daughter will be born, a new generation of European founders. We’ll set aside the notion of nation and embrace the notion of homeland.”

He responded to a comment of one Egyptian student concerning the street demonstrations in Tahrir Square: “We need to ask forgiveness from the young Arabs across the Mediterranean. We should do more to assist a democratic transition in their land. We need to rediscover the calling of our national territory to be bridges in the heart of the Mediterranean, towards the cultures of North Africa and of the Middle East.”

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Source: Sophia University Institute online

Photo gallery:  flickr 

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