Giorgio La Pira (1904-1977) was a member of the Dominican Laity and the mayor of Florence in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a tireless crusader for the poor and, more to the point, used his status as mayor as a launching pad for engagement with global issues.
He was an advocate for peace in the Middle East and an end to the nuclear arms race. In 1954 in Geneva he delivered a speech that posed the poignant question, “Do nations have the right to destroy cities?” Over a half-century ago, Giorgio saw the connection between the universal common good and healthy cities. His cause for Beatification is now in Rome.
“The actuality of Giorgio La Pira, the political and Christian man” was the theme of a conference held on the 20th February 2017 in the town of Paternò in the Province of Catania in Sicily on the life, policy experiences and the thoughts of Giorgio La Pira in today’s reality in the light of the Gospel and of Christian teaching.
The event, organized by the Christian Workers Movement of the parish of Santa Maria dell’Alto and Istituto Tecnico Economico Statale “Gioacchino Russo”, was moderated by the lawyer Giuseppe Oliveri, who outlined the historical profile of the personality of Giorgio La Pira, and made an introduction of the theme of the conference. This followed the greetings of the Regional President of the Christian Workers Movement Mr. Fortunato Romano and the Head of the Istituto Tecnico Economico Statale “Gioacchino Russo” Mrs. Concetta Centamore. In her speech, Mrs Centamore stressed on the importance of such meetings as an opportunity for reflection and growth in relation to citizenship skills as part of a project in which her school is involved.
In his intervention, Fra Llewellyn Muscat OP, secretary of the General Postulation of the Order of Preachers, stressed on the importance of spiritual formation in Giorgio La Pira, his relationship with the Holy Scriptures and the works of the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, which deeply influenced his political activities. The Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Catania Mons. Salvatore Genchi, focusing on the contemporary importance of the Servant of God, recalled his political activities and his ability to relate and to mediate between the various political forces. This made his Christian identity a predominant factor in every situation that he encountered.
Other speakers include, the President of the Sicilian Regional Assembly, Mr. Giovanni Ardizzone, whom, placing emphasis on the faith of Giorgio La Pira, raised a major question on the influence that this has had on his political action. Professor Nino Romano, a scholar from Messina of La Pira, presented his book titled, “Un Cristiano per la città sul monte” (A Christian for the city on the mountain). The book outlined the personality of La Pira from the point of view of civic commitment in his activities as Mayor of Florence, his attempts to mediate between Kennedy and Khrushchev during the Cold War and his relationship with Ho-Chi-Minh during the war in Vietnam.
By Leopoldo Oliveri
More about Giorgio La Pira on the official website of the Order.