Why I Prefer An Italian Pope
I herewith declare very openly that I wish the next Pope to be Italian. Like most Italians, I regard an Italian Pope as something natural, and fitting. Italy has given the papacy a great number of excellent Popes, and one can legitimately say the Country has served the Church well. Besides, I can’t escape the impression Italians are more likely to have that common-sense approach, the so typical attitude you see in the population, traditionally hard on the defence of the rules, and soft with human weakness. I might go as far as to say that Italians have been so frequently in charge in the last centuries, because the traditional character traits make them so eminently suited for the job.
In short, what the Duce called “un popolo di poeti, di artisti, di eroi, di santi, di navigatori, di trasmigratori” is also, and blessedly so, a people of great Popes.
It is difficult to explain this to a foreigner living abroad, but I am absolutely confident this subtle difference, this “Italian approach” is very evident to every foreigner who has lived in Italy for some years. Italians have a no-nonsense approach given to them in the cradle, nurtured from the earliest years and underpinned by a remarkable similarity in the way they see life and in the values they share; all of this, make no mistake, shaped by a Catholicism utterly without religious rivals worthy of mentioning from time immemorial. It is the kind of mentality that mocks, say, even (for an Anglo-Saxon; Italians wouldn’t say “even”) vegetarians as funnily pathetic nutcases, but has a kind and soft approach even to the people it mocks. It is also, put in a different way, a sure-footed instinct for what is relevant, and for leaving aside inflexibility and exaggerations.
Just to make an example – I do not say it to criticise anyone; merely to point out differences in mentality and culture – on a well-known religious blog run by a priest I have read this question:
Do insect products count as meat products, and therefore prohibited on Fridays and other days of abstinence. I have heard of some instances where it may be used in artificial color products. Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
I needed a couple of seconds to digest the question, and to even understand what was meant by it, so much is the question away from our thinking. Mind, I am sure the person who posed the question is a sincere Catholic; but in a circle of Italians this would have caused a burst of hilarity, and would have been remembered for years afterwards. Even the most orthodox Popes of the past (like Pius X or Pius XII) have probably spent an entire life without the question ever coming to their consciousness, and would have been rather worried for anyone having such problems.
This is exactly what I mean for sure-footed instinct: an orthodoxy that is, naturally, never Puritan, or lost in little details, or over-preoccupied, or over-complicated. Not so, alas, in countries where Protestantism plays or has played a role; so much so, that the question above,which sounds disturbingly ridiculous in Italy, would probably appear rather natural, if a bit on the picky side, in countries more influenced by a rigid Protestant culture.
Obviously, in the strange and disturbing times we live in even an Italian Pope could get it completely wrong, and you only need to search on this blog “Archbishop Paglia” to become fully aware of what kind of people are at present walking down the extremely beautiful corridors of the Vatican. Still, ceteris paribus I’d say the Italian would be the safer bet.
And now that I have finished to anger the vast majority of my seventeen readers, the only thing that remains to do is to look for a good trench and bury myself within ..