Don Mimmo Battaglia: “School must prevent children from seeking refuge in the arms of the Camorra”

DinnerJuly 14, 2022 – 08:10

The Archbishop: “Naples does not need magical formulas, but a cultural and social revolution for the change to last”

from Emanuele Imperiali

Archbishop Don Mimmo Battaglia says there is a worrying resurgence of violence in Naples. Episodes like those of the two girls against whom the acid was thrown in the middle, or of the twelve-year-old being scarred by the ex-boyfriend, are not only symptoms of a criminal escalation, but also of little or no consideration for human life. How should society respond?
“In the face of evil, there is only one way to react: with the good. By resolutely safeguarding the good that already exists (and in Naples it is much, even if it does not make noise!), Increase it where it lack, spread it in all possible ways.But beware: the good, especially the social and societal good, is solid when it is the fruit of a we and not of many isolated selves.Therefore, it is not enough to do good , but it is necessary to do good and do it together.Today, in our Neapolitan context, it means to do good, to live in the good, to put the man / woman, his life and his wounds at the center, him or she who is fragile, marginal.The small.The last.It is above all for them that a spirit of community must be born and increasingly strengthened, one we are able to network, create a system of life and hope and curb evil and inhumanity “.


Bullying, discrimination, racism deeply attack a city already plagued by a thousand problems. Of course we must prevent, but do not you think we also need a tougher repressive effort?
“I do not like the term repression. It reminds me of a culture of dominance that has little to do with the democratic culture that only uses power when there are no other options. I prefer to talk about the need for greater vigilance and greater containment. And I say this not out of superficial goodness, but because if we understand oppression as a firm and hard hand capable of crushing evil and eradicating it, we are simply misleading ourselves. The most difficult areas of the city, the most risky places, must certainly be clearly guarded, and to do this requires presence and vigilance. But all this will never be enough without transformative processes that are able to have a long-term impact, accompany the good, subdue the evil, educate the mind and hearts. Naples needs trials, not magic formulas. While awaiting the completion of a process, such as the educational and cultural, it is certainly necessary to curb crime, racism, violence and bullying in all possible ways. But with a focus on long-term change, on a lasting and solid transformation ».

After the closure, the crimes have increased considerably, for a few days a really long vest is unleashed. You have proposed an education pact for which you have found consent from the institutions and management groups, but how do you get it concretely into the veins and arteries of civil society?
“Here, this question allows me to clarify. The Education Pact is not an event, a pedagogical formula or a signed protocol. All these things may represent moments, stages, but they do not constitute the essence of the covenant, at least as I understood it, after listening to many people involved in the world of education, volunteer work, school. The pact wants and must be a cultural process capable of reviving the devotion of those involved in education, of overcoming the individualism that also exists in the social world, and then giving life to a solid educational network. Specifically, this translates into work in the territories through the creation of educational tables, where everyone sits to confront and support each other, to overcome competing styles and learn to cooperate. The territorial representatives I have appointed – a priest, a nun and a layman – are already working on this, to begin an initial experimentation of the tables in three different areas of the city: west, east, center. It is from sitting together, from the desire to not only be next to each other, but to each other, so that the masks in the educational network tighten further, that no boys can run to seek refuge in the arms of the Camorra or the underworld . But beware: All of this is a journey that takes time, it is a process that must be lived step by step. It’s not all straight away. In education, times are always long and it is urgent, must not make us forget it. That is why we can not wait any longer, it is important to get started as soon as possible. Without, however, ceasing to work in all possible ways in the present! ».

A parish priest invited the youths to stay home in the evening. But, Don Battaglia, it is not with the escape that such serious problems are solved. What do you think?
“The parish priest’s invitation was not to desert and flee, but to avoid leaving boys and children on the streets and unattended, and to encourage them to live in healthy places of education, such as the oratorio. No priest wants to flee or invites to flee, on the contrary. Our goal as a church is to create more and more educational places where we can grow in security and have fun without violence. In fact, during this summer time, allow me to publicly thank the parish priests, educators, communities, religious institutes, and all those who work in parishes and oratorios for providing, even in the summer, educational, fun, and close experiences for the children. of our archdiocese, especially to those who, due to family, economic, and social distress, would have been most affected by a time without school. My admiration and gratitude goes to this group of educators, who every day get dirty hands, who decide not to stand by the window, but rather touch the wounds of the little ones every day, because they truly represent the outpost of an extroverted church, a Church announcing life and hope on the streets for men and women! ».

As the man of the church, are you convinced by the order and safety committee’s proposal to strengthen control on the streets of nightlife and in front of schools?
“As I said before, anything that increases vigilance, presence, detention and incarceration is absolutely necessary. And it’s about the present, the immediate, the urgency. But it’s not enough. At the same time, it is necessary to work with cultural and educational processes. Including the pact. Because it’s the only way to build the future. The committee’s decisions are welcome, they seem wise and necessary to me. But let’s not fool ourselves: Naples needs a cultural and social revolution, a revolution of life. and hope, of justice and peace ‘.

How to read the choice of a woman at the top of Neapolitan Caritas?
“Well, I do not want to correct that, but I would like to start talking more about the ‘top’ of the ‘base.’ the collaborators and with them the poor.Sister Marisa comes precisely from this experience: she is a woman who got her hands dirty with the poor and recently served AIDS patients, prisoners and many other fragile situations.I am sure that his presence will give the Neapolitan Caritas an even more motherly touch, oriented towards care, welcome, being close to and the birth of projects aimed at getting out of welfare and building a personal autonomy that increases dignity and value for every man and woman, in whatever condition they find themselves in. “

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July 14, 2022 | 08:10

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