The choice of the title Neither victims nor bandits had been inspired by the words of Pope Francis during the audience last February before the representatives of the Economy of Communion (EoC), when he affirmed that it is no longer enough to imitate the Gospel’s good Samaritan who saved a man from bandits, but that there is need to act “especially before the man bumps into the bandits, to thus fight the structures of sin that produce bandits and victims.”
We need, therefore, to do some soul searching and run the risks in order to change the rules of the game imposed by capitalism and globalization. World experts of culture, the media, economy and politics took turns in the various moments of the programme, along with the many representatives of civil society.
Pressing issues were discussed such as migration and reception, the reconversion of war industries and at the same time the paradox of arms exported by Italy for the war in Yemen where 15 million people have been suffering from the worst cholera epidemic over the last years and have no access to water. Another burning issue discussed was slot machine gambling, and the Slotmob movementcreated four years ago to stop this social wound promoted by the State itself.
There were various stories: from the reports of harassment and injustice, to the efforts of those who have to fight daily against the wall of indifference and meanness, those who have decided not to allow gambling machines in their bars, and those who have promoted with friends a real march against the culture of gambling in their countries.
Vincenzo Conticello, a former businessman and justice witness in Palermo, spoke about the reality of a company that was reduced to bankruptcy by the racket and mafia, and how he was forced to leave his city after undergoing injustice and abuse of power. Chiara Periof the Astalli Center for refugees, underlined that currently there is a widespread cultural commercialisation of the migrations due to which “the migrants and the poor, treated like merchandise and at times like rejects,” are to be blamed for their poverty and condition.. So here lies the paradox, “the Italians fear the victims more than the bandits.” The round table on Relational assets and work, one of the items of the event highlighted the importance of friendship, trust, company, cordiality, support, sense of belonging, and involvement – all factors that determine satisfaction in the workplace, said Prof. Benedetto Gui. What counts is not only the salary or work schedule, but to recognise the economic dignity of relational assets.
Jesús Morán, Co-President of the Focolare, was at the presentation of Bernhard Callebaut’s bookThe birth of the Focolare. History and Sociology of a charism (1943-1965), for New City. He analysed all the work under the viewpoint of implementation as the “creative reinterpretation of tradition.” Shahrzad Houshmand, an Iranian and a Muslim theologian, also attended the book launching and gave a testimonial of how in all these years, Chiara Lubich and the Focolare Movement did not establish dialogue with religions, but with people. Chiara for Shahrzad was “a woman with the visionary faith of a person who feared nothing,” and was never afraid of meeting “the other” even if this could lead to “death of oneself.”
Lastly, in the face of the continuous and obstinate aggressions to peace, the EoC economist, Luigino Bruni, and Marco Tarquinio, director of the newspaper Avvenire asked Pope Francis to write an encyclical on peace that is able to “shake off inertia.” This is what we are all hoping for!