Young people and the law, along the Pathways for a United World

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A “campus” on law was set up in Bologna, Italy, promoted by Focolare’s Youth for a United World. It was a place to get educated and participate in social action to affect change and re-weave the social fabric.

27175c27 fc40 4d3b 9de2 046783b520e4From July 20–28, close to 40 young people from most regions in Italy came together in Bologna to create a campus where they could concretely dedicate themselves to others. They got to know and work with associations and groups who are committed in the social sphere, such as integrating immigrants and combatting problem gambling. They collaborated with youth summer camps and cafeterias, finding different and original ways together to do things.

“The campus,” explains Francesco Palmieri, one of its organisers, “began after an earlier experience in Syracuse some years ago that was successful and then repeated in Rome and Turin. This year in Bologna, the young people singled out the neighbourhood of Cirenaica, a multicultural area where the social situation is complicated.

“Campus is an experience of civic engagement that young people start for other youth like them, to answer a single question: can we do something?”

This is about personal commitment, therefore, including during training sessions with various experts, from judges to university professors, from volunteers to priests and laypeople who are committed on the front lines of civil society. The theme of law and order emerges, overlooked in a number of cases, such as in taking in migrants, fighting the mafia and problem gambling.

“The campus experience enriches us,” adds Francesco, “and we return home with many answers to questions that we hadn’t ever asked.”

Among the experts present was Professor Adriana Cosseddu, who heads the Communion and Law international network. We asked her a couple of questions.

Focolare’s young people launched “Pathways for a United World” in 2018 – six paths towards a united world, with activities and ways to go deeper into the six overarching themes. After the first, which was dedicated to economy, communion and work, the second this year is aimed at exploring human rights, justice, legality and peace. What are its objectives?

“These are courses that, together with the Focolare community worldwide, youth and teens engage with and take a lead role, in order to contribute to making humanity one family.

74cbcf7b 3e5a 4fbb 8ff5 8ecbc7ec1ec1“There are many ways to do this, and this year we chose four.First was opening the doors to dialogue and hospitality so that human rights are recognised and implemented. Then we began working with all our might for peace, so that we can overcome the logic of conflict with true exchange, and so that peace is pursued universally as a human right. To reach true peace you need to practice justice, which safeguards the relationshipsthat are the foundations of our coexistence. This is the importance of law and order, which requires, through rules and behaviour, that we enable processes that can cut through the logic of profit and privilege, of widespread corruption, to promote neutrality and fairness.”

What more can the Focolare’s charism of unity bring to law?

“The charism of unity portrays others in a new light: not the stranger or an enemy to defend myself from, but a gift for me because of the richness of their diversity. Reciprocity, which in law is translated into legal requirements, becomes a call to responsibility towards others, who I need to take care of, because of reciprocal love.

“As a result, while today law tends to protect the rights of individuals, Chiara Lubich opened up horizons that showed law as an instrument of communion. And communion has a goal: to work so that concrete human relations, even those that are carried out under the sign of law, may help those involved to look beyond themselves and recognise each other, in their respective dignity and according to a responsible freedom, in order to open up to collaboration. In this way small pieces of brotherhood are generated”.

The next step for this pathway is “From Human Rights to the Right to Peace: Walking with Humanity,” an international seminar sponsored by the Communion and Law international network. It will be held at Loppiano, Italy, from September 19–21.

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