New Humanity Movement

Politics and P.A.


This story involves six local councils, eight parishes and three priests. A pastoral action that led to the setting up of a centralized administration of a whole Valley: the Local Council of Ledro.





By Paolo Balduzzi

For those living in the Ledro Valley, in northern Italy, November 30, 2008, will be remembered as a special day. On that day, through a referendum, they decided to have one common civil administration, and the day of its birth was fixed for January 1, 2010, after a year of preparation.

This new entity, voted for by 75% of the population, will now cover six different localities, and aims at a higher efficiency with the resulting decrease in expenditure. This kind of ‘fusion’ is one of the first being experimented in Italy. It did not come about for economic reasons; its genesis can be traced way back, and the inspiration was the idea of brotherhood.

Fr Giampietro Baldo is an expert in ‘fusions’: he is pastorally responsible for the eight parishes of the valley. We asked him some questions about the latest developments:

Father, how do you read the outcome of the referendum? Three out of four citizens opted for the ‘union’. How come?

“This fusion of the different localities is not the result of discussions, but of a journey that allowed the people of the different communities to come together and to know each other better. This resulted in a mutual enrichment. I believe it was this on-going coming together that produced that referendum result. After all, it was the natural conclusion to what has been taking place for some time.”

Do you think that your being pastor of the eight parishes of the valley has somehow contributed to this union?

“More than my personal contribution, what influence the people, I believe, was the witness of brotherhood with the other parish priests. The other priests were Fr Lino, now in paradise, and Fr Pio, now a pensioner. In our relationships we always tried to understand each other in our differences, and to offer and accept the richness of each other. This was not based on mere friendship; we tried to explain to the people the beauty of unity, which is also so creative. After some time, many started to adopt this as a way of life”.

When you speak about the ‘people’, are you referring also to those who work in the local civil administration?

“Certainly. Unity is contagious. We approached the mayors and the various administrators of the Valley and proposed the idea of reciprocity. Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement, is the person that gave us the ideal of unity. Once she said something like: “My dream is to see a town united around the parish priest and the mayor”. This, I think, is what has happened here. The different parishes were previously cut off one from the other; the collaboration between them for the good of all has resulted in a more efficacious pastoral ministry. For example, when a parish lacked catechists, another parish would send her own. It would have been difficult without this help; this showed the necessity of being united, and at the same time, the beauty of unity. In the civil administration, such an experience could be beneficial for the whole community of the Valley. The mayors were the first to have the foresight to see the benefits of such a collaboration, and they started to promote the idea to unite the localities of the Valley under one administration, taking as example, the approach adopted by the parish priest. As from January 1, 2010, this common local council is a reality. Now, it is up to us to see that it works as it should.”

In May 2010 for the first time people voted for the city council of the new municipality: for you as pastor, this was the opportunity to send a letter to all the councilmen-elect, suggesting a higher vision of politics.

"I think that politics consist in working for the city, in ancient Greek the polis. This is the highest possible service that one can do for his/her own community. You need commitment, sense of duty, a wide vision, without getting lost in the "party", that underlines a specific belonging, a broad perspective that aims at the common good. This is just about what happened here: at the elections there were nine lists of candidates; the Democratic Party list was complete, the right-oriented list was missing some persons. The chairman of the Democratic Party phoned the other list's chairwoman and said to her: "Do not worry about the persons you are still looking for, I will introduce them to you; these are persons that would like to get involved,  but not with me, as I work for a leftist party. I am sure they will join your group". Indeed this is what happened."

These are signs of hope, and here, with the experience you all lived, are acts which give politics a new credibility.

"As I wrote in the just mentioned letter, I think that you are a real politician, if you can listen to everybody, even to your opponents, underlining the positive aspects, that can be present in every proposal. You are a real politician, if you let dreams and imagination conquer you, in order to propose novelty, beauty, harmony. You are a real politician, if you live the problems of the polis, if you share in the traumas of your fellow citizens, if you can build new relationships among people and communities, divided for so many years. You are a real politician, if you can respect every single proposal, every single person, if you can welcome, and lead all the suggestions you receive on a track that is acceptable for everybody"

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