David Sassoli Dies, Esteemed Man of Institutions

The Pope’s Condolences on the Death of the President of the European Parliament

Esteemed Man of Institutions
Sassoli in the meeting with Pope Francis last June 26 (C) Vatican Media

An “esteemed man of institutions,” who dedicated himself “with particular care to the last,” said the Holy Father in his condolences on the death of David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament. The Pontiff did so in a telegram signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and addressed to the deceased’s widow, Alessandra Vittorini.

The Pope’s Telegram

 “The Holy Father spiritually close to you in this time of grief for the premature passing of your dear husband, the Honourable David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, wishes to express to you and to your children, Livia and Giulio, his sympathy, assuring you of his heartfelt sharing in the severe bereavement that affects Italy and the European Union,” reads the telegram.

He remembers him as a believer animated by hope and charity, competent journalist and esteemed man of institutions that, in a calm and respectful way, in the public responsibilities he covered, spent himself for the common good with rectitude and generous commitment, promoting lucidly and passionately a solitary vision of the European Community and dedicating himself with particular care to the last. While raising prayers of intercession, Pope Francis invokes from the Risen Lord eternal peace for him and heartfelt consolation for all those that mourn his passing, and he imparts to you and to the family members the Apostolic Blessing.”

Who Was David Sassoli?

 Sassoli died at 65 as the consequence of pneumonia, not caused by COVID, and problems of his immune system. Since December 26 he was hospitalized in the Oncological Center of Aviano (PN). He was born in Florence but considered himself Roman by adoption. As a youth, he frequented the Association of Catholic Guides and Scouts (Agesci). A journalist, his face was well known to the Italian public for having conducted the TG1, of which he was also Vice Director. In 2009 he was a candidate for the European Parliament of the Democratic Party. On July 3, 2019, he became its President. His mandate would have expired in a few days. The grief of the Italian and European political and institutional world is unanimous.

The Astalli Center’s Condolence

 Many are the statements of esteem and condolence of the Catholic world for Sassoli. Father Camillo Ripamonti, President of the Astalli Center, the Jesuits’ Service for Refugees in Italy, said: “We are grief-stricken by the loss of a friend ever committed to defending the rights of forced migrants in Europe. His tenacious dedication to the building of a solidary, democratic, peace-building Europe of dialogue, of bridges was daily and painstaking. His determination in fighting for a European Union capable of saving, receiving, and protecting men and women in flight from wars, persecutions, and injustices was a spur and bulwark in these difficult years of battles for the human rights for so many realities of organized civil society and for all those citizens who want a Europe without walls.”

Sant’Egidio’s Grief

 Sant’Egidio Community also remembered Sassoli “as a loyal man. For him the essence of politics was to work for the common good and not only for those on his own side, faithful to the principles of democracy and humanism of which the history of Europe is bearer.” Last November 30 he took part in the International Day against the Death Penalty. “A message full of hope for the advancement of this battle, of which he was firmly convinced and that he described as “an imperative moral duty for Europe and for all.

“A dear friend has passed away, whom we knew from the beginning, from the years if his formation, Catholic, democratic, young and man of dialogue throughout his professional and political itinerary. In his intense commitment in the European Parliament, he succeeded in orienting himself by those ideals of humanity and justice, which today more than ever are indispensable to guide institutions, for a Union capable of embodying a project of humanist democracy, precisely out of respect for human rights and the protection of the most fragile. Significant, in this connection, was his support of the appeal  “without the Elderly, there is no future,” against “selective health care” and in favor of home care launched by Sant’Egidio at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CEI’s Remembrance

 “The answer is to act together, to take care of one another, and to rediscover the importance of social relations in the community. Development without justice  or growth without rights is no longer acceptable.” The words put in writing to the participants in the 49th Social Week of Italian Catholics last October 23 at Taranto, restore well the illuminated vision and passion for the common good of the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli. In the name of the Italian Episcopate, we express our profound sympathy and closeness to his wife, the children, and all the family members on his passing. The Italian Catholic world loses a prominent exponent, a kind and faithful man, a reference in the politics of the country and of Europe.”

Thus began the message sent to Mrs. Vittorini by the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, and by the Secretary, Monsignor Stefano Russo. “As journalist and then man of institutions, he always worked for a more solidary society attentive to the needs of young people and of the last.” He “was convinced that believers and lay people together can “rebuild that home to continue to combat the idols, to pull down walls, to build bridges, and to give body to a new humanism.” He stressed this in his intervention at Bari, on the occasion of the meeting “Mediterranean Frontier of Peace” in 2020.

CEI’s leaders expressed their gratitude “for the friendship and availability always shown to the Church that is in Italy.” “We praise the Lord for the witness of this brother of ours and we pray for his soul, entrusting it to the merciful embrace of the Father. Certain, as Father David Maria Turoldo wrote, priest and theologian whose name Sassoli bore, that “everything will last: from life to life and again from death to life as waves on the cliffs of an endless river . . . “

Fuci Names the European School of Formation after Sassoli

 The Italian Federation of Catholic Universities also expressed its grief on the death of Sassoli and communicated an immediate initiative. The Promotion Committee of the European School of Political Formation meeting in an extraordinary session agreed unanimously to name the same in memory of David Sassoli.

“The School, active since last year and promoted by several European Sates, which have adhered up to this year and are adhering to it, involves Catholic University students in a constant activity of study of the democratic phenomenon and formation to politics and to citizenship.”

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester