THE Church neither pre fers nor condemns any kind of government, as long as that government is just, and able to assure its citizens' well-being. These sentiments were expressed by Pope Paul VI in a message sent via his Secretary of State, Cardinal Cicognani to the recentlyheld French social weeks.
The social weeks are the annual "conference" of French Catholicism, and the theme of this year's conference, in Caen, Normandy, was " Democracy ".
"The democracy which the Church approves," the Pope continued. "is not so much bound up with any particular regime. as with the foundations on which the interrelationships of peoples and their governments are built. The common search for well-being presupposes a society of free persons. of equal dignity, who enjoy basically equal rights.
"If democracy means brotherhood. then Revelation teaches us to love all men, whatever their status, and commands us to help the needy to improve their standard of living " Pope Paul said that a true democracy required its citizens to be well-informed. and discerning. There must therefore be a free Press, which took great pains to be objective.
"If a democracy is genuine, one can arrive at a balance between the two currents of individualism and socialism. Each person participating in a democratic structure takes his share of responsibility for the working out of a common destiny.
"The task of the laity," Pope Paul concluded, "is to put into practice the principles of Christian Social Doctrine. Through Parliament, the universities. and political institutions. French Catholics have for 75 years helped to initiate and improve legislation on family and social matters."