Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

The politicians’ virtues according to Luigi Sturzo

In Terris 12.11.2022 Mons. Michele Pennisi Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

The basic difference between sin and crime is that the former is a moral-religious concept, the latter a political-legal one. The sinner must give account to his God. The offender, on the other hand, is accountable to the law and the judge and, in a broader sense, to the community harmed by his offence. Luigi Sturzo was born on 26 November 1871 in Sicily and died in Rome in 1959. He was a Catholic priest and politician, a leading figure in the Popular Party.

A crime is a voluntary human behaviour that takes the form of an action prohibited by a state’s legal system, to which a penalty is attached. For a behaviour to be considered a crime, it does not only have to be against the law. Several circumstances must occur: the conduct willingness; the psychological element existence that is a wanted misconduct or guilt; the causal link between the active conduct and the subsequent damaging event; the lack of conditions making what is formally unlawful into lawful behaviour (e.g. self-defence).

Sin belongs to the religious sphere. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, 'Sin is a failure against reason, truth, right conscience; it is a transgression against true love, God and neighbour, caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds human nature and attacks human solidarity. It is an offence against God'. Three conditions are required for an action to be sin: grave matter, full intelligence awareness, a will with deliberate consent free from condition.

Morality is desire and continuous tension towards goodness that is not scandalised by one's own and others' fragility because it springs from gratitude for the gratuitous love experience. The Church's mission is not that of a humanitarian agency handing out licences of morality, but that of prophetically denouncing evil and being evangelically merciful to sinners from whom she continually asks for heart and behaviour conversion. In this regard, Jesus' attitude is emblematic: to the Pharisees who had brought to him an adulterous woman, he says 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone' and to the woman he says 'go and from now on sin no more'.

The Church asks people engaged in politics that their actions should be at the service of the person’ integral promotion and of the common good, overcoming the dualism between faith and life. It is a matter of living in accordance with one's conscience enlightened by faith, leading to conceive political engagement as an act of gratuitous love at the community’s service.

It is to be asked, however, whether the 'moral question' raised by improvised Cato is not a cudgel to destroy or delegitimise one's political opponents, and whether economic interests and electoral exploitation are not hypocritically concealed behind moralistic campaigns. ‘Hypocrisy, Chesterton recalled, is the homage that vice pays to virtue.’ Morality cannot be parceled out. Pharisees’ morality can stand on the parceling of moral principles whereby one declares good only what one can show he/she is able to observe and bad all what others do, filtering out the gnats and swallowing up the camels as Jesus says in the Gospel.

Moralism can degenerate into pharisaic behavior to the extent that each person establishes what is good and what is evil so generally absolves oneself and condemns others, forgetting the Gospel admonition to first remove the beam from one's own eyes before claiming to remove the mote from those of others. It is the attitude of those who think their hands are clean, but do not realise their hearts are dirty.

Luigi Sturzo, who was personally involved in politics as a municipal and provincial councilor, pro-mayor for 15 years and secretary of the PPI, said that politics is an art that only a few artists are able to exercise, while others are satisfied to be artisans and many go down becoming political tradesmen. He also did not fail to give some practical suggestions to those who want to learn the art and avoid the trade.

Among the virtues of politicians he numbered frankness, sincerity, firmness in knowing how to say no, humility from which springs a sense of limits, non-attachment to money and fame, competence, political planning. Sturzo affirms the absoluteness of moral values but also insists on the impoliticity of political immorality.

For him, economics and politics, without morality, are always uneconomic and impolitic.

Luigi Sturzo did not stop at generic and abstract denunciations, but intervened often and punctually at some crucial nodes of his country's history with ruthless analyses, which are not lacking in topicality. Here is what he wrote in 1958 as an eighty-seven year old about the moralisation of public life: "A word such as 'moralise public life'! Where and when has politics been kept in the line of morality? Not yesterday, not today, not by us, not by our neighbours, not by countries far away. Yet this is the popular aspiration: justice, honesty, clean hands, and fairness. What is the conception of the rule of law if not that of a state in which law takes the place of arbitrariness; observance of the law suppresses abuse, embezzlement and abuse go not unpunished? The state neither immunises evil nor turns it into good; it makes citizens suffer the evil effects of its administrators, rulers and officials’ dishonest actions, while it produces beneficial effects through wise policy and honest administration.

The idea having penetrated the minds of citizens that a bribe or a percentage for the cunning intermediary is needed for having a deal done, brings to conclude that the stories circulating from mouth to mouth are not all made up. He concluded: 'Cleanliness! Moral, political and administrative cleanness! Only in this way will the parties be able to present themselves to the electorate in a worthy manner in order to obtain votes. Never by doing favours for categories and groups; never with personal promises of posts and promotions; but only in the name and the interests of the national community, of the Homeland finally, - because the moralisation of public life is the best service that can be done to the Homeland" (January 1958).

Corruption and clientelism are phenomena that have always existed. They are empowered especially in moments of serious civil decadence and in times of social and cultural change. For some decades in Italy, as in other countries (it is sufficient to observe what is happening in the institutions of the European community), they have assumed unprecedented quantitative proportions and qualitative characteristics. The network of patronage and corruption has extended from the sphere of public life to that of work, profession, commerce, and has even touched private life and interpersonal relations.

What is the most impressive and alarming is the widespread state of acquiescence and passive resignation in the face of morally serious phenomena. On the one hand, people are scandalised by the corruption manifestations in the political class, but on the other they help to fuel them by systematically resorting to clientelism when it comes to asserting their own interests, even at the expense of the others’ one.

There is a lack of 'antibodies' against unlawful conduct. Today, there are more and more people who no longer know any sense of guilt and preach that 'transgression is good', only to discover later that it is also tiring.

At the most extreme positions of ethical relativism, there is no distinction between good and evil. Camus expresses the ultimate consequences of this position leading to nihilism: "If nothing is believed, if nothing makes sense and if we cannot affirm any value, everything is possible and nothing matters. There is neither for nor against, nor is the murderer right or wrong. One can fire the crematorium ovens, just as one can devote oneself to curing lepers. Malice or virtue are case at whim' (Man in Revolt).

The philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote, "Before covenants and laws, there was neither justice nor injustice; and the nature of good and evil was no more common in men than in beasts" (De Homine). Moreover, "The rules of good and evil, of just and unjust, are living laws; and so what the lawgiver prescribes must be regarded as good; what he forbids must be regarded as evil" (Leviathan).

In 1764, in his work 'Of Crimes and Punishments', the Milanese jurist and philosopher Cesare Beccaria, in Thomas Hobbes’s line of thought (who had already declared a century earlier that 'if crimes are sins, not all sins are crimes'!), introduced the distinction between 'sin' and 'crime'. ‘Crime' consists in damaging the entire community, such that the person responsible for such an act would deserve to be judged by Society in the ways and forms established by it. ‘Sin', on the other hand, is an offence caused to God, such that its author would deserve (at least for those who are believers) to be judged (punished or pardoned) only by God and His representatives.

The legal order does not coincide purely and simply with the moral order. The domain of law does not cover the entire domain of morality. The legal order primarily concerns the objective, material action. The moral order primarily considers the intention and purpose of those who act without neglecting the external act.

Let us add. This does not imply that all laws are just, but that the organs society has given itself for this purpose should rectify unjust law. But, what if it is precisely these organs that are corrupt?

See, Le virtù dei politici secondo don Luigi Sturzo

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Dario P 06.05.2023 poi arrivo il compromesso storico...e la cadde' la prima pietra..la politica di oggi non ha confini..solo peccati..