Vatican City. On 29 May 2023, the liturgical memorial of Saint Paul VI, the ceremony for the conferral of the Paul VI International Award to the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, by Pope Francis took place in the Sala Clementina.
“The International Prize has been awarded to personalities who have illustrated the cultural fruitfulness of the believing experience with thought, art or action”, introduced Msgr. Angelo Maffeis, President of the Paul VI Institute, explaining the decision of the Scientific Committee to award the Prize to President Sergio Mattarella “in the belief that the commitment in the political field and the service rendered to the institutions of the civil community can have this noble meaning, when they are an expression of the dedication to the common good of a lifetime” and thanking him for his “clear witness”.
The Secretary General of the Paul VI Institute, Prof. Simona Negruzzo, then read the motivation: “to recognize the exemplary way in which the winner has interpreted political activity and has fulfilled, as a service to the common good, the international responsibilities to which he was called. It is a commitment that finds its roots in the cultural, spiritual, and political tradition represented by the thought and action of Giovanni Battista Montini”.
President Mattarella, expressing his gratitude and emotion at receiving the Award personally from the Holy Father after having asked to donate the amount of the Award to the John XXIII Community, some of whose shelters were seriously affected by the floods in Romagna, he said, “I think that with the Award more than my personal action, it is understood and intended to indicate the way of interpreting the commitment of society in the institutions, which many have practiced and developed inspired by the vision of Paul VI and the his teachings.” And he continued, I also believe that this is an opportunity to highlight the great figure of Paul VI and his extraordinary contribution to the Church and from the Church, to Italy and to the world (…). With his teachings, Saint Paul VI placed and transmitted a harmonious, clear, complete vision of faith, human life, freedom, and peace.” Then he confided that, “Paul VI was the Pope of my transition from youth to mature age, and also my Bishop” when I was involved in the Catholic Action youth of the Diocese of Rome. For these reasons, I am aware of the honor in receiving the award named after him”.
In his Discourse, Pope Francis said, “I am pleased to present the Paul VI International Award to President Sergio Mattarella.” He underlined, “for the Christian, greatness is synonymous with service. I like to say that ‘those who do not live for service, do not live’. And I believe that today the awarding of the Paul VI Prize to President Mattarella is a really good opportunity to celebrate the value and dignity of service, the highest way to live, which places others before one’s own expectations. That this is true for you, Mr. President, is testified by the Italian people, who do not forget your renunciation of your well-deserved rest made in the name of the service required of you by the State.”
Recalling some values such as the sense of responsibility and justice, and the commitment to legality, deeply lived by Sergio Mattarella, he concluded by saying, “These are not utopias, but prophecies; prophecies that exhort to live high ideals. Because young people need this today. And I am happy, Mr. President, to be an instrument of gratitude on behalf of all those, young and old, who see in you a teacher, a simple teacher, and above all, a coherent and respectful witness of service and responsibility. Pope Montini would be happy about this, some of whose words I would like to repeat which are as well-known as they are true, ‘Modern people listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, or if they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses’.”
At the ceremony, in addition to numerous civil, ecclesiastical and academic authorities, researchers and scholars of Paul VI, also present were Sr. Maria Cella, Animator of the FMA Community of St. Paul VI of Concesio (Brescia); Sr. Monica Gianoli, the Vicar of Mary Mother of the Church Preprovince (RMC); Sr. Anna Trotti; and Dr. Stefania Postiglione of the Institutional Communication Office of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences «Auxilium».
Since 2009, the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians has collaborated with the Foundation Work for Christian Education which, among other things since 1979, has promoted the Paul VI Institute, the International Study and Documentation Center in Concesio. The collaboration includes educational-cultural activities, research and publication of the correspondence of Giovanni Battista Montini-Paul VI, the editing and publication of the Proceedings of the Colloquies and the Study Days, as well as ensuring a presence in the birthplace of Paul VI for welcoming pilgrims and visitors and presenting his life and spirituality.
The Faculty «Auxilium» collaborates with the Paul VI Institute to promote studies on the Pope and education.