First of all, let us make clear the President in Italy is a very powerful man. Besides a wide-ranging immunity from prosecution – the most obvious reason why Berlusconi wants the job – the President is a kind of “Supreme Ayatollah” over the country, particularly in the (rather frequent) situations of instability and no clear majority in Parliament.
The President can steer who becomes Prime Minister, and whether or not there should be new elections, and with whom as Prime Minister; he nominates on his own five of the 15 judges of the Constitutional Court, and the five life senators (of course, when places become vacant). He is the head of the Army, and the Carabinieri swear freedom not to the Republic, like all civil servants, but to the President. He could give them the order to arrest the Prime Minister and all the Government, and they would obey like a shot. Last time I looked, He was the direct head of all the Secret Services, and informed of all the best kept State secrets; far more, if you ask, than the Prime Minister himself. He has other things beside: presidential pardon, head of the organ controlling the Judiciary (this is largely ceremonial) etc.
These are not symbolic powers. President Leone triggered a new election to screw the Commies in 1971, and President Scalfaro (the greatest of them all, and a truly hardliner Catholic) famously disbanded Parliament in 1993, completely destroying the Socialist Party in the following election. I could make further – if less extreme – examples. Basically, among the great Western countries only the French President has more power than the Italian one.
Traditionally, everything is done to have a “bipartisan” candidate, and Presidents have been – with one or two exceptions; Pertini and Saragat come to mind – prestigious politicians enjoying the trust of very many, be they of right-wing (Segni, Cossiga) or rather Left-Wing (Napolitano, the actual one) background.
The President is a very powerful man, and should be – though he not always was in the past – a man of unimpeachable character. The President represents the democratic Institutions, and the chosen one is one requested to be ready to die for his country, and the one Italians are requested to, if necessary, die for.
In the case of many of them – Einaudi, Segni, Cossiga and Scalfaro first; other like Ciampi and Napolitano were rather all right – there is no doubt this was the case. Besides being powerful, the President is the Country’s flag, and as we get to elect him rather than getting the nincompoop royal loins have generated (why does the name “Charles” come to mind now?…) we should do it right.
It is, therefore, more than alarming that some of the wrongest possible names have been circulated in he last weeks: Dario Fo and Emma Bonino.
Dario Fo, the former clown candidate of Grillo’s formation – I have written about it – was intermittently in the news for a couple of weeks, but the absurdity of the name became soon evident to the most stupid. Unfortunately, another name got some traction: Emma Bonino.
Bonino used to be the epitome of everything the sane part of the country, particularly the women, hated: the kind of person who would smoke marijuana in front of a policeman to get arrested (several of these stunts); a rabid, and I mean rabid abortionist; a ferocious divorce activist; and a first-class “liberated” woman, which you can safely assume is code for whore.
But Bonino was different than her old boss, the truly satanic Marco Pannella. At a certain age, she endeavored to be taken seriously, and managed to “recycle” herself into a kind of “institutional” figure. EU Commissioner, Member of the European Parliament, Minister. Her CV now sounds innocuous to most Italians; but make no mistake, she is every bit the old bitch.
Emma Bonino is one of those people who made the Nazism of modern times mainstream. Therefore, she can be a Nazi and pass for mainstream at the same time. It would be wrong to say that she has changed, though there might be a little truth in that; it is far more pertinent to say those who knew her for what she is have died and the new generation is not so different from her.
Emma Bonino is certainly running, and she has some cards to play: EU and government experience, the reputation of having “aged well”, the clearly shown ability to “do what is required” and adjust to public perception. Still, I don’t think she will make it. The smell of the past has largely evaporated, but I think it’s still too evident for the Number One Job. If you ask me, she just doesn’t have the standing. Always if you ask me, she will be used as expendable card to advance, at the right time, the candidature of someone far more fitting like Romano Prodi: more prestigious jobs both in Italy and Brussels, known worldwide, respected everywhere, and one of the most honest politicians I have ever seen in any country. Unfortunately, one who might abandon us in the matter or perversion, then he is a “rose water” Catholic too.
But better than Bonino, every day of the week.
Please, pity me; an Italian born in a country where Christian values were as commonly and universally spread as tap water, and who must now see the slow – Italians are remarkable common-sense, no-bull people; for how long, no one knows – decomposition of the moral fabric of the Country.
Pity me even more, because when treacherous politicians were not enough, their work is completed by unspeakably cowardly people like Archbishop Paglia, a man who does not even need to be elected but behaves as if his daily bread – and not his salvation – depended on it.
I have already written about the fact that the disgraceful Archbishop would like to have some legislation aimed at making the life of scandalous and unrepentant sodomites “easier”, something for which he would have probably – and certainly, if I had been the one to decide – been burnt at the stake not many centuries ago.
Now, we do not know whether Archbishop Paglia -or his aider and abetter, the Pope, who must take full responsibility before God for such an appointment, and for not immediately rebuking the Archbishop – was in agreement with the Primo Ministro, Monti, or whether the latter just saw an opportunity to conveniently shift on the sodomite side without too much damage. The fact is, though, that Monti expressed himself in a way similar to the Archbishop’s just a couple of days after the latter’s diabolical declarations. The gravity of the two events is, still, breathtaking.
Worse still is that similar words, though just a bit more nuanced – politicians love “nuanced” almost as much as Vatican officials – have been pronounced by the chap I was planning to vote, Pierferdinando Casini, the head of that part of the Monti-coalition which in the past had never failed to deliver. In short, there’s a taking down of trousers almost wherever you turn.
One froths with rage at thinking that the Vatican could have made of this election an unprecedented crusade for family and Christian values, and forced everyone to pay much attention to what he says and stands for. How powerful the Vatican still is, is clearly showed from the fact that – previous agreement or not – Monti and Casini did not dare to open their mouth before the Archbishop gave them the “green light” to do so. This gives you the full scale of the betrayal the – I must say this, because is the purest fact – Holy Father and his, ahem, “family protector” have to answer for.
Pity me, then, once again, for living in a country where not even high ecclesiastical authorities dare to fight for Christ; Popes are blind, deaf, and mute; and Catholic politicians behave like street whores.
I wanted to give my vote to the Centre (= Monti, Casini, Fini) coalition. Whilst risks are always there, I thought that after proper consideration of all the cards the vote for the centre would offer the highest chances to block sodomy-enhancing initiatives. Of course, it can still be that this is the case – believe me, an Italian politician can promise an awful lot he knows he has no intention to deliver – but I do not want to feel my vote has been misused, and do not think Casini can be trusted on that, much less Monti. Besides, Monti does not want to be seen as a “traditional” politician, so he has compromised himself once and for all.
Therefore, I have decided to vote – for the first time in my life, and I never thought I’d see the day – for the centre-right coalition; which, whilst not officially led by Berlusconi anymore, is still infested by him. Again: pity me. The vote has been sent today (it’s Saturday as I write), alea iacta est.
I will not delude you or myself into thinking the centre-right are the fortress the UDC (= the Casini party; himself a concubine, btw) was supposed to be, and I am actually terrified at the thought next time I look for Italian news I’ll read that they too have jumped into the bandwagon; but as I write these very sad notes they are the only grouping in which a possible mention of Berlusconi of a possible support for some kind of legislative measure in favour of sodomy – a misinterpretation of careless words, and clearly a forced one – was greeted by a salvo of complete rejections of the very idea by his own party members, and led to such angry denials that the matter died very soon.
This was, of course, several weeks ago, and we live in such times that the temptation to fish into the rather large pool of “inclusiveness” – a muddy pool in which even Archbishop Paglia was happy to immerse himself, and make both his person and the Holy Church stink with the stench of sodomy – might well be too strong for populists like Berlusconi & Co. With the only difference that – if we are lucky – Berlusconi & Co. will be too scared to anger the old men and women in Veneto, Lombardy and Sicily, who are absolutely vital to them if they are to avoid an outright majority of the Left in the Senato as it appears rather sure they will get the Camera.
This is the most chaotic election I have lived since 1994, and it is even more unpredictable because of the changed social conditions ( a much bigger mass of non-voters and undecided, making polls rather a work of art than a matter of statistical probability ). Against all expectations, the “Five Stars movements” is growing stronger, and no one really knows whether the diffused anger towards the party system – including Berlusconi, of course – will really translate into 15% of the votes, which would be an earthquake and, let me say this, truly bad for the country.
It becomes even more interesting now, because the Italian electoral law has a rather brutally enforced ban on polls in the last two weeks (that is: from the 10th), and in the last two weeks a lot can happen.
In theory, the centre-right coalition might still carry the day; in theory, many might think as I do and decide that the centre-right (particularly the UDC, the once staunchly Catholic party) is not a credible defender of marriage, family and Christian values. In practice, this election was and is not being fought along religious lines, and the fact Berlusconi did not launch the loudly trumpeted “battle on family values” says a lot about the real lay of the land.
Italians are about to betray their God and tradition not in that they are directly embracing Sodomarriage (they are not as rotten as the Britons, by far), but in that, as stupidly as Archbishop Paglia is stupid, they might/could/will give ways to form of “civil partnerships” which, besides being an abomination in themselves, will make the cry for “sodomarriage” unavoidable in just a couple of years’ time.
Pity me, then, as I write on a rainy afternoon contemplating another battle our prelates were too indecisive (yes, starting from the very top) to fight.
And pray for our clergy, whose members are not even ashamed of openly promoting, or silently abetting, abominations in the eyes of The Lord.
When you regularly visit a country and tend to always see the same set of people, it is easy to be tempted to think said country doesn’t change much; but in fact, it does, and it does in a very slow way that actually hides the danger of the movement.
Every year, perhaps 1.3 percent of the population dies. It may not seem like a lot, but it adds up. The last attempt of the leftists to introduce institutionalised perversion was in 2006-2007 and it failed so miserably – reinforced by the crushing victory of centre-right in 2008 – that one thought the country would be safe for a long time. Five years later, and with perhaps 8 to 10% of the electorate having changed the picture looks different already.
Mind: Italy is still emphatically not Spain, and the Vatican is still so powerful Berlusconi doesn’t dare to openly attack them even after the men in red threw him out of the window. But this strong power – not so strong as it used to be, but powerful nevertheless – is clearly, if slowly, vanishing. It appears clear to me what scandalised very many in 2006 scandalises fewer people in 2013, and what was inconceivable then (the homo “marriage”) is very well conceived now.
Therefore, 2013 or 2014 could be the year pro-homo legislation makes its entrance in this once so proudly Catholic country; it might not be so of course, and as I write I’d say it’s fifty-fifty; but the tragic reality is that the demographics are against us, because a generation of pussycat clergy was not able to convey the simplest truths to their sheep; therefore, whilst the clergy can still connect to those formed in years where sanity was considered normal, they have – irretrievably, in all probability – largely lost the younger generation of the 18-35 years old. These people are going to vote for another half century (if democracy survives for so long) and not very many of them might be re-shaped even by long years of assertive Catholic propaganda.
How do you remedy to this situation? By hammering the Truth into the head of the young, say I; through a relentless, daily bombardment from the churches (many of those in Italy), the TV stations (the biggest of them all), the newspapers (many of those, too). The alternative is the danger of becoming just another godless wasteland like England, when Christianity is now largely reduced to senseless slogans with the addition of a Christmas Pudding. We need a new Crusade aimed at reviving a dying Catholicism in Western Europe.
Did I see any of this assertive Catholicism during my stay in Italy? Not much. Of course, Italy is different from England, and Catholicism does have a different place in the public discourse; but there is no assertiveness, and no real grit. The left coalition is openly in favour of institutionalised sodomy, and there should be brimstone falling on them every day from the very powerful Catholic media; but you really can’t see anything of that; rather, some polite remark at the most. I concede Italians are better acquainted with Catholicism than the Brits and might (perhaps) need less shouting, but I do not think anything near enough is happening.
I will not bore you (for today) with the intricacies of Italian politics, but my impression is that the Catholic hierarchy are lulling themselves in a rather complacent optimism that they will manage to avoid the worst (as they have managed to do it in the last years) whilst still avoiding to openly support the Berlusconi-led right wing coalition. They seem to think that putting all their weight behind the centre coalition will be sufficient to avoid the worst. A very risky strategy, if you ask me, with no room for error: if the centre coalition fares badly whilst weakening the right-wing coalition, we are – as they say - in un mare di guai.
We will soon know where we are as the 24 February approaches rapidly. Let us hope Italy remains exempt from the heathenish, perverted madness we can observe in such a large part of the Western world.
Good Lord, how the times change…
When I was a child, cremation was actually not contemplated by your mainstream Italian (churchgoing or not) and from what I seem to understand not allowed in principle, though I think no one really cared. As to keeping them in urns at home, this is something you saw in American movies, and cringed.
If you want to know in what confused times we live, you can read here Italian Catholics are now not allowed to scatter the ashes or to have an urn at home.
If you read the article, you will notice a rather important thing: the mention of “burying the dead” as a work of mercy is not even mentioned.
Instead, we are treated with this beautiful snippet of post-Vatican II thinking: the Church will not defend a custom honoured by the centuries, and will happily allow Catholics to import masonic/protestant ways as long as long as they don’t do it in order to show hostility to the Church or loss of faith in the Resurrection.
Now, I understand this is not a doctrinal point, but come on: how can the Church hope to reinstate Catholic sanity, if she does not insist on traditional Catholic practices?
We see, once again, the equivocal mentality of the Vatican, in which a certain push or encouragement for the embracing of Catholicism goes together with a lack of courage to walk the walk after one has talked the talk.
So we see the Pontiff, and many others, insist on the loss of religious feeling, the growing consumerism, the void left by the abandoning of a healthy religious life. It just doesn’t seem to occur them to think that Catholicism has always maintained that this religious life is nourished and made more robust by countless practices and customs which, though not obligatory in themselves taken singularly, all together constitute the backbone of the Catholic life of a country.
It is very much like V II to think that a tepidly Catholic man or woman can be recovered to a traditional Catholic thinking, if the Church does not insist in a traditional catholic acting. This intimate union of spiritual life and everyday practices has always been a great strenght of Catholicism, and your grand-grandmother would even considered a life without Vespers or Rosary as deprived of a spiritual leg, even if – undoubtedly – there can be life without a leg. And would have told you, without the shadow of a doubt and without caring of what post Vatican II priests think, that to cremate bodies is un-Catholic, period; something you do only in case of absolute emergency, like pestilence; and which you otherwise do with rubbish or, in case, dogs.
The kindest thing I can say of this initiative is that it is not good enough, and shows a rather worrying love for gradualism in the best of cases, and a disregard for Catholic traditions and for works of mercy in the worst.
In case of doubt, always think WWMCGGT (what would my Catholic grand-grandmother think). Alas, I think this is a much safer guidance to what is authentically Catholic than many “guidelines” and “instructions” of these disgraceful times.
I grew up in Rome, Italy, in a typical middle-class environment.
Compared to the standards of today, money was certainly not there in great quantity. No one felt “deprived” because he didn’t have luxury trainers, or a smart mobile phone.
Life was very simple, and utterly straightforward. You had people responsible for you (these were your parents), and they were the ones in charge of teaching you order, and discipline, and answering for it to the nearest judge. Most did their job rather well.
My father was on the sterner side of the average (I come from a family with a proud 100% Fascist background, mind; where Law and Order were written very large, rather than being a mere slogan).
As a child, I knew that punishment was not a possibility, but a certainty and in fact, I can’t remember one single instance where the threat wasn’t, when necessary, swiftly followed by its execution.
As a result, punishment was almost never necessary. Like many other fathers, mine mastered the art of deterrence at the start, and this made his life much easier ever after.
Parents were always present. They were really there. Being Italians they were, so to speak, everywhere. The idea I do not want to say that they might not know where I was, but that I might do the unthinkable (like, say, opening the fridge without authorisation, or speaking when commanded to stay silent) was just not seen as belonging to this sphere of existence.
I can’t say to you that it was always pleasant. I still keenly remember my desire to grow up and be an adult, in order not to be commanded around. To me, Adulthood was a magical state, the bearer of the most delightful of gifts: to be able to decide for yourself.
Still and in all that, I can’t say that I felt, one single day of my life, neglected or unloved. I still remember the day I discovered – already at University – that there could be sons who did not feel loved by their parents. To me, this was something you read in tales, not something happening in real life.In real life, a child feels loved as inevitably as he can see the sun. Dear Mary, please remember this when my parents’ hour comes.
Duty. Order. Obedience. Discipline. I wasn’t even aware of being raised with these values, so natural they were, so practised around me all the time. And make no mistake: whilst I am graced with what must be the best parents on Earth, millions of other Italian families behaved and raised their children in exactly the same way. I saw that everyday, in the tales of my school comrades punished for rather trivial offences (which today wouldn’t even be considered such: answering in a cheeky way, say, and being sent to bed without dinner); and today I see in it a typical Italian trait, the remarkable social uniformity among families. My friends were carbon copies of myself, their parents very similar to mine, an extremely constant (with the benefit of hindsight) set of family values was shared everywhere.When a German friend of mine told me “you Italians all think the same way” I didn’t initially understand what he meant. Now I do. You’ll be surprised – and perhaps terrified; your problem – of how many Mundabors there are around.
At school, things were very clear. When you passed the threshold, you were – legally – in another realm. In this realm, the teachers and the Frightful-Commander-in-Charge, the Headmaster, held all the power. And they took it seriously. Behaviour (“Condotta”) was considered most important, because there was enough common sense to recognise that without that, nothing would follow.
There was none of today’s human rights crap. A teacher could take a pupil by the ear without causing any idea that this might not be in the natural order of things. Many times I have heard the ruler snap, and many more I have seen the teacher walking around with it in his hands. Whilst its use was, in the end, rather seldom and more threatened than effected, when it was used the event was duly noticed.
Things happened, which to today’s sloppy generation of teenager-like apprentice parents would seem outlandish: tomb silence on demand, anytime; proper way to pose questions and answer them; no swear words whatsoever in front of a teacher; people actually absorbed knowledge, could read and count very properly, at 10 years of age in the worst cases. Even in middle-school (11 to 14 years old) a vulgar answer to a teacher would cause one to repeat the year: the fitting punishment for daring to do the unthinkable, and showing a clear sign of a subversive mind. I’ve seen it happen in my own class.
The older teachers complained about the relaxations of the customs, and the old system that was in place quando c’era Lui, “when He was there”. “Lui” being, for the record, always the same person. Tales of corn grain, mainly. They told us about it, and you could feel the corn grains in your knees.
It continued on the road. Italy had three main police forces: Polizia, Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza. All three permanently armed, and not with plastic bullets. You saw them as a child: always elegant, the uniform impeccable, exuding authority. The weapon often plainly visible. They were Law and Order made flesh, and did nothing to hide it. I can’t remember one episode where they were not extremely courteous; but again I was never a rioter or Molotov-bottle thrower.
Then there was another kind of police: the reparto celere, “fast (deployment) department”, whose members were universally called celerini. These were the anti-riot police, and here other rules applied. The officers were among the best: cool-headed individuals, like knife-throwers or lion-tamers. The foot soldiers, they were bloodthirsty bastards: people who relished the fight, and delighted in being able to thrash other people legally. Dobermanns with stern masters. They had strange rubber batons, with an iron core. They say the batons could break your arm without even leaving a mark. And the policemen/Carabinieri had horses, and knew how to use them.
Water cannons, very popular in the late Forties and Fifties, were now not used often, the horse being the weapon of choice. But in the Cold War years the unforgotten Mario Scelba – then Home Secretary and, believe me, no Theresa May – used to have the water coloured with indelible tint, with the consequences you can imagine. In case you wonder about the colour it was, of course, pink.
The rules of engagements were clear: the mob could be asked to disband and had to obey. If it didn’t, a warning would come announcing that, in case of continued disobedience, the trumpet would sound thrice and the charge would begin. Now, the charge was a frightful thing and I wish I was able to show you period footage, often seen on TV in past years. When the trumpet sounded the first time, the mob began to run already. The horses would soon follow, and the horsemen would thrash without any regard anyone who, at that point, had no justification whatsoever for being in the wrong place. Those the horsemen had to contend with were no children looking for fashionable trainers or a TV set: they were full-fledged communist or anarchist hotheads; people on a mission, often trained in urban warfare, who knew how to throw a Molotov bottle and, at times, how to fire a weapon. Thousands of them became underground terrorists, two-thirds of these were killed by the police in the following years.
So, if you were planning to ask me why there have never been riots in Rome of the kind seen in London, with control lost for four days for a couple of thousand idiots looking for some appliances and a bit of excitement, you can avoid wasting the time.
Another beautiful blog post of Mgr Charles Pope (this is the Monsignor with no uncertain trumpet, or talking about locks and keys: when are they going to make him a bishop?), reminiscing of a country in which Christianity was not the enemy, but a deeply felt part of the everyday – and national – consciousness.
I could very well relate to his situation because, on a slightly different plane, I had analogous experiences and I saw the Italian society change in the meantime, though not in such a dramatic way. We had the “Hail Mary” and “Our Father” every morning at school before beginning lessons; religion (that is: Catholicism) was part of the curriculum from kindergarten on, and at school we had religion one hour a week. The country lived at the rhythm of the Christian clock; Christmas was very keenly felt, and the music above one of the most popular Christmas jingles, back in every home year after year. Sunday was the day of rest, Mass and football; the Crucifix was in every classroom, the Pope unceasingly on TV, the mass televised in its entirety at twelve every Sunday. There was a very fortunate radio program every evening and replied every morning: “ascolta, si fa sera”. Millions of children have listened to it whilst having breakfast, for sure, with Handel’s music the same year after year.
Many things have changed now. Sunday is not such a Christian day as it used to be, as the necessity to stress oneself seems to have extended to the seventh day; come to that, Sunday football has also been massacred on the altar of television, and a generation of Italians has grown up without knowing the incredible emotion of “tutto il calcio minuto per minuto”, the most beloved (from men) and most hated (from women) radio program of all times, with a soundtrack and emotions every Italian knew. No TV could ever equal it, I never felt the same emotion again.
Technology has made us stupid, the relentless quest for televised excitement has taken the best emotions away from us. We just pay much more for them; but I digress…
Crucifixes are still in every classroom, and in a healthy reaction to the attack of mad atheists and subversive Muslims the country has successfully fought to keep them where they are supposed to be. But you see that the country has changed; if not dramatically so, certainly worryingly so. “Ascolta, si fa sera” and “tutto il calcio minuto per minuto” are both still there, but the first now hosts Evangelicals and Jews, the second is mutilated by the TV-dictated match schedule.
In all this, the country is being rather admirable at keeping its Catholic roots. Not because of the generally disgraceful clergy (this is the country where some member of the clergy has the nerve of supporting the building of mosques, and others lend churches to Muslims; I hope they repent before they kick the bucket), but because Catholicism is surprisingly resilient, is in the very bone marrow of the country. In Italy, what Catholicism you still have you owe it to the wisdom and resilience of the people, not to the courage of the priests.
Like Monsignor Pope (I always smile at the name…), I see changes around me, and a society certainly less Christian. But I also see a huge untapped reservoir of Christian resources all over the West. It seems to me that Christianity is not dying at all, rather a bit of a sleeping giant; that when the Christian leaders (and most importantly, the Catholic ones) wake up and start to blow the battle horn, the soldiers will not be slow in rallying. In Italy, euthanasia and crucifixes have been clear Christian victories, and after four decades of clerical silence (meaning with this: clerical silence) opposition to abortion is probably not far from 40%. In England, a Pope whose attempted arrest had been feared has drawn crowds unthinkable just the week before; always in England, the virulent anti-Catholic media attack of Easter 2010 has caused a spectacular run of faithful to the churches in the Holy Week in what was clearly a massive popular reaction to the media attacks.
The troops are there. Even in England! Yes, they must be mobilised and trained. But the real problem is not the absence of troops. It’s the lack of willing generals.
The video above relates to the procession in honour of Saint Anthony which took place in Padua a couple of days ago on occasion of the Feast.
This is another indication of how, slowly and softly but in a way that can’t be ignored anymore, Catholicism is coming back to the main stage of Italian public – and in time, make no mistake, political – life.
Padua has something more than 200,000 inhabitants, and the 100,000 people who attended this procession gave, even considering the traditionally Catholic region, a powerful message of what is happening in the country.
Yours truly has often expressed the opinion that Catholicism is something that goes very deep in the conscience of the faithful; a very strong bond, a home everyone feels linked to, something not even deluded, delirious barking cats want to abandon.
It suffices, therefore, that the Catholic hierarchy starts again to forcefully defend the Catholic message and the traditional Catholic values to cause, in time, a recovery of what is, for a Catholic, never really lost, but rather pushed in the background for lack of proper reflection and, more often, proper guidance.
If you look at this video, you’ll think yourself transported into another era: the identification of the City of Padua with his Saint is total. Associations of all kinds, religious and lay ones, are represented; the popular participation is, as already stated, massive; the symbiosis with the Institutions is evident (you will notice that the Carabinieri around the statue of the Saint are in dress uniform, and please also notice that the Carabinieri are not a local police but depend directly from Rome).
What you are seeing here is a desire to come back to old values, to a way of living that might have seemed to be constrictive at times, but whose advantages – temporal as well as spiritual – are now being slowly rediscovered.
It will take time before this resurgence of Catholic values translates in a clearly identifiable, more assertive political action; it will take time and, let me stress this, good bishops able to provide the faithful with the guidance they need.
But it’s happening, it’s happening already. The recent controversies in Italy (from the atheist advertisements on the buses, to the euthanasia battle, to the crucifix issue) have certainly contributed to a reawakening, to a recovery of one’s own values.
We never understand so well what we are, as when we are confronted with what we are not. Italian Catholicism, for a long time taken as a given, has been challenged, forcing millions to ask themselves what values they stand for; and helped in this, thank Goodness, from a Church establishment increasingly more able and willing to show some teeth and to man up to the challenges of our times.
Multa renascentur, quae iam cecidere
Unfortunately, the results of the Maltese divorce referendum weren’t as hoped, and the “yes” front won with more than 52% of the votes.
This is very disappointing of course, and I do agree with the worries expressed in the past days: that you start with divorce and then erode Catholic values one bit at a time.
I hope (and frankly, think) that the Maltese clergy will not take this result as an unavoidable “sign of the times”, but will in the next years and, probably, decades continue to press to have divorce banned again. The worst mistake that could be done now is to tone down the polemic in order to avoid “alienating” the sheep. The Church is not there to make marketing exercises, I have seen this happening in Italy and the results don’t speak for the cleverness of the proposer of such “low profile” policies……
Abortion shows us very clearly that the pendulum can and does swing on the other side, if the electorate wakes up to the consequences of liberal legislation.
Reasonably high turnout in Malta for the divorce referendum.
It would appear, says Times Of Malta, that
a low turnout among younger voters was noted throughout the day, while the elderly and the religious community appeared to be out in numbers, thus potentially giving the ‘no’ vote the upper hand.
This is certainly a reaction to the appeal of the bishops, cleverly made en masse and in force on the last sunday before the vote, about which I have reported here.
I will probably not be able to report about the result of the referendum until tomorrow. What I notice is the fact that one of only two countries still banning divorce allows a referendum on it, and the result is uncertain to say the least. This seems to me a highly relevant result irrespective of the definitive outcome of the referendum. It means that it is possible, even in the middle of Europe, to build a society whose perception of real values is strong enough as to have a real grip on the population’s decisions.
This is not a coincidence of course. You have seen from the previous blog post mentioned above that the Maltese bishops are committed, outspoken shepherds. They show that if the shepherds are good, there will be enough sheep to give the goats a fight for their money. But this doesn’t happen overnight and is, surely, the result of constant work.
Picture now such a referendum in England, where the local hierarchy seems unable to talk about anything else than social and environmental issues and, when they really talk about embarrassing things like Jesus, they do everything possible to let you understand that they do it because they are supposed to, but you shouldn’t feel offended because they are oh so “inclusive”. Imagine what influence can such a cowardly stance have over a Catholic population already surrounded by a secular and protestant influence, and very often needing clear words to recognise the truth.
Whatever the outcome, this battle in Malta (and the one in Italy about euthanasia, I add) shows that if the Church leaders are committed to the fight, a Catholic army will, in time, be formed; disciplined and well-equipped enough to be a danger for every politicians wanting to stop its march.
I hope the acoustics was good in the Italian Monastery of… Bose, Italy. If the acoustics wasn’t, accommodation and catering must certainly have been at rather high level, as the place has been chosen (as already anticipated by me when talking about Little Britain) for the latest episode of that expensive exercise in useless waffling, busy-bodying and bad theology, but at the same time in jolly good company and first-class entertainment, called Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission, in short: ARCIC.
On this particular occasion, the talks went on for ten days, concluding in time for the return of the happy troop before the Champions League final. One can only admire such logistical skills.
There is, of course, no way any “ecumenical dialogue” made in the wrong way may ever lead to anything approaching acceptable results. The inherent ridicule of the situation by which Catholics and Protestants try to find a way by which they might be reconciled without the Protestants becoming Catholics (a very tiring exercise, I suppose; no doubt helped by ten days of healthy doses of good food and fortifying wine) was on this occasion made even clearer by the fact that a lady took part as Anglican “bishopess”, and another lady from I-don’t-care-where as “canoness”. It is clear that female presence was considered indispensable for a more pleasant conversation at table, it being unthinkable that a “bishopess” and/or “canoness” may ever, ever be of any use in any talk based on real ecumenism.
Real ecumenism can never be an exercise by which Catholics and Protestant try to talk their differences away. Nor can it be limited to inconsequential waffle about the desire to get along together, as the Truth should, in a sane world, not have any desire to get along with the lie beside the one to – as long as possible – avoid armed confrontation. Least of all can ecumenism become an effort to let it appear that it be not so important – in everyday life and in the economy of salvation – to be a Catholic or a Proddie. This last error only confuses the Catholics, helps the Protestants to remain in the dark, and is of any use only to the merry ARCIC troop, and to the catering firm.
Real ecumenism is you-come-to-me -ism; it is the talk with the clear intention to help the prodigal son to go back to the father’s house, and no other; it is the unashamed statement that one side is right, the other wrong and one tries to find ways to help those on the wrong side to get to the right one. If this kind of ecumenism is not liked from the other side, though.
The newly established Ordinariates for converted Anglicans are a clear example of ecumenism, because they build bridges for those on the wrong side whilst always making clear where the Truth lies, and where the bridge leads.
My impression is that these merry gatherings have become one of those expensive, but not entirely unpleasant occasions to which the participant do not want to put an end, even when the absurdity of such meetings has been made once and for all obvious by the presence of the “bishopess” and/or “canoness”. I can’t wait for the first transsexual Anglican bishopette. the Anglicans might not be there yet, but given time I’m sure they’ll manage to “catch up with society” as they have done so often (erm: always, really) in the past. I can’t imagine that this would be seen as an obstacle to any future ARCIC: if you can swallow a bishopette, there’ s truly no boundary to what else you could live with.
No. As long as food and wine are going to be good enough, breaking up will be so very hard to do.
I know, this is in Italian. But what would be the use of your humble correspondent, if he wasn’t able to give a little help when needed…
It turns out that twenty-one French priests have written to the Head of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Ouellet, to ask him for… better shepherds. This after the latest appointment, the one of the apparently notorious bishop Fonlupt (see above a photo of his in unmistakable clerical garments….) , left once again much to be desired.
The letter has been signed, though Messa In Latino doesn’t report the names. Also noticeable is the decision not to allow any seminarian to sign, after a similar appeal from Milan seminarians to have Summorum Pontificum applied in their own diocese led to inordinate thundering and unpleasant consequences.
Messa in Latino puts it, as always, in a refreshingly blunt way:
La media dei vescovi di Germania, Austria, Svizzera, Francia, è da asilo per lunatici; in Italia e Spagna, dove non siamo caduti così in basso, la media è comunque mediocre e di desolante immobilismo.
The average of the bishops in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France is at madhouse level; in Italy and Spain, where we haven’t sunk so low, the average is still mediocre and marked by a depressing total absence of action”
Personally, I must say that one begins to see something vaguely approaching a harder stance. It hadn’t happened for very long, surely, that two bishops were kicked out in a matter of months, and three in less than a year. Still, what – I think – must end is the mentality by which an appointment is the result of a compromise between the diverging desires of the Pontiff (for an orthodox man) and of the local clergy (for a lunatic, or a heretic). In the end, there is no way protests from liberals can be avoided and appointing liberal bishops will not appease them (as if appeasement were a working strategy, ever), but only make them more vocal.
Summorum Pontificum is, I think, a point in case. A very lax enforcement of the clear dispositions of that historic motu proprio didn’t facilitate at all a prompt reception of its clear message; on the contrary, it encouraged a huge number of Western bishops into thinking that SP could be boycotted as long as necessary, and destroyed as soon as practicable. Only Universae Ecclesiae will put an end to this; and again, only if seriously enforced.
“Messa in Latino” puts the importance of the matter in such a beautiful way, that I can’t resist reporting and translating the entire concept:
La prima preoccupazione di questo sito è sempre stata per la scelta di buoni vescovi e per questo abbiamo cercato di seguirne le nomine, prima ancora che parlare di liturgia. Perché è dalle risorse umane che dipendono le sorti di un’azienda; e certo, se la Chiesa fosse un’azienda, sarebbe già fallita da molto tempo. Il fatto che la barca vada avanti nonostante certi rematori, è la prova storica dell’assistenza divina. Nondimeno, cerchi un po’ la Congregazione per i vescovi di facilitare il compito alla Provvidenza.
The most pressing care of this site has always been the choice of good bishops and this is why we have tried to follow their appointments, even before talking about liturgy. This, because it is from the human resources that the furtunes of a company depend; and certainly, if the Church had been a company she would have gone bankrupt a long time ago. The fact that the barque continues to go on notwithstanding such rowers is the historical proof of the Divine assistance. Still, the Congregation For Bishops should try to make the task of Providence easier”.
I am confident that Cardinal Ouellet will make Providence’s task somewhat easier; though episodes like Fonlupt’s appointment show that the process will not be as speedy as we would wish.
The cause for the beatification of Fulton Sheen, a great man of God this blog has written about on several occasions (try here and here, or perhaps here), is now to be started again after a strange interruption due, in its essence, to a controversy about where his mortal spoils should rest (with New York having allegedly verbally promised to allow the tomb to be transferred to Peoria,then allegedly not delivering on the promise and so endangering the shrine project therein conceived, with the result that Peoria’s diocese stopped the procedure altogether).
It is a pleasure to read that a man who was almost forgotten when he died, and considered a part of an old church not worth wasting time about, is now not only safely marching toward beatification, but even the object of a tomb controversy like we have in Italy for our Divino Poeta, Dante Alighieri. This clearly shows not only that his message is now – after the dust of the Vatican II madness has clearly settled – properly read and listened to again (just make a google video search, or go on youtube, and stun; or visit Amazon for vast choice of re-printed books) but that it is clearly anticipated that his remains will become a mass attraction and source of great prestige; a prestige that evidently both Peoria and New York claim as their own.
Personally, I am unlikely to ever land in Peoria, whilst I will (God pleasing) probably have further occasions to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Having said that, the idea of a national shrine attracting people from all the country – and, surely, from abroad – to kneel and say a prayer in front of the tomb of this great man is sweet even from the distance.
I allow myself to see in this a further sign of the times, and ask myself the rhetorical question whether, say, twenty-five years ago a shrine to his memory – and attendant tomb controversy – would have been very likely. How was that? Oh yeah….
The times they are a’ changing…
A beautiful example of how the internet is changing the way faithful organise themselves from the always excellent Messa in Latino.
Just a couple of days after Universae Ecclesiae, a reader is published with a public invitation to those living in and near Palermo to write to him to organise a stable group for the Tridentine Mass.
Mind, though, that in Palermo the Tridentine Mass is already available (in Italy the situation is, whilst patchy, certainly better than in the UK) and the scope of the faithful is simply to have more of them.
The internet (blogs, meetup, twitter, facebook, and the like) now allows conservative minded Catholics to rapidly get in touch with each other and make their voices heard. Whilst the gathering together of like-minded people has always been possible, it is fair to say that it has never been as easy as today; similarly, exposing the boycott of a bishop has never been so easy, too.
Universae Ecclesiae is going to give another spallata, a powerful shoulder’s push to the resistance of liberal bishops and now that it is explicitly said that no minimum number is necessary for a stable group, the boycott of the Tridentine Mass will become more and more difficult. Young priests able and willing to celebrate will certainly be available and their number will, in the next years, certainly increase.
Better times ahead.
Hans Küng lives in a world apart, rarely disturbed by inconvenient things like, say, reality.
From his separate planet, this vecchio malvissuto (yes, Manzoni again) has given an interview to the German Frankfurter Rundschau (reds, mind you; think of them as of the German “Guardian”) and has said some astonishing but, nevertheless, rather entertaining things. Let us examine some of the pearls of this heretical wannabe “thinker”, whose logic a child knowing his Penny Catechism could demolish without a second thought (and therefore, “cannabis thinker” might be more appropriate).
The Rundschau says that;
Küng argues that John Paul’s harsh treatment of Latin American liberation theologians such as Gutierrez and Boff represented the “exact opposite” of decent Christian behaviour
This is really, really not funny. The late Pope slept very soundly for about five years (means: the usual useless appeals, followed by other useless appeals) before finally acting against the so-called Liberation Theology. This inaction was a scandal and nothing less than a disgrace. But no, in cannabislandia you are unchristian because you move against heresy. I’d like to know with what behaviour (after the many years of sound sleep) Mr. Küng would have been satisfied. Conversion to heresy, methinks. Or passing the joint.
On the “santo subito” events, our man says:
“The whole thing was just a con act by conservative and reactionary Catholic groups, especially those ones that are very strong in Spain, Italy and Poland.”
One really wonders whether this man reads the newspapers. All over the planet, conservative Catholics are in a frenzy because of the rush with which this beatification has been pushed through, and the chap thinks that it has been… manipulated by them. I wonder when in Mr. Küng’s mind you start being “conservative”. Probably when you wear a priest’s habit (or when you don’t want to smoke joints).
The biscuit must, though, go to this one:
“John Paul II is universally praised as someone who fought for peace and human rights. But his preaching to the outside world was in total contrast with the way he ran the church from inside, with an authoritarian pontificate which suppressed the rights of both women and theologians.”
Even by sixty-eighters standards, this is rather unbelievable. A Pope is criticised for being…… a Pope! He is considered oppressive for being…. Catholic! What does this chap smoke in the morning ?!
It is beyond me how this man could ever be considered a Catholic, let alone a theologian. Either he is not compos mentis because of excessive marijuana consumption, or he is so firmly in the hand of the devil that he doesn’t even care to disguise it anymore in any conceivable way. He reminds one of the beautiful words of Father Corapi:
My grandmother, who had only an eighth grade education, knew more than many theologians because she knew the truth.
Hans Küng has culpably and willfully chosen not to know the truth; or perhaps he knows it all too well and tries to undermine, it because he is on Satan’s side.
In all this, he cannot even see the great scandal which, alone, destroys all his pot-related (or, alternatively, satanic) theories: that he has not yet been defrocked.
In both cases, another beautiful Corapi saying applies:
When you crash against the rock, you will not damage the rock but you will hurt yourself.
This is about a DOXA poll regarding Summorum Pontificum made in 2009, that is: more than 2 years after Summorum Pontificum.
Whilst not entirely new, it is relevant to us because the source is the most prestigious poll institute in Italy. The results of the poll are rather astonishing and are given here in short form:
1) Of those who go to mass at least once a month (rather high in Italy: 51% of the Catholic population), only 64% knew about the possibility of having a Latin Mass. This means that two years after SP, many priests had not considered necessary to even mention the existence of this historic motu proprio. Then they say, of course, that the faithful “don’t want the Mass in Latin”.
2) Asked whether they would have any objection to both the Novus Ordo and the latin Mass being celebrated in their own parish, 71% of the respondents says they would not have any objection at all.
3) Among the weekly churchgoers, 40% would go to the Latin Mass every Sunday. Please read it again, I have checked the numbers! By the way, this means 9 million people every Sunday.
This was a poll made among people who often didn’t even know about Summorum Pontificum and the possibility of having a Mass in Latin and therefore could not educate themselves about the differences of the two masses, let alone assist to the Tridentine Mass for some time to assimilate them. The numbers are therefore nothing less than astonishing and once again, they come from the best known and most reputed polling institution of the Country.It is very obvious that there is a strong appetite, a very vivid interest for the recovery of old Catholic traditions.
If the Pope had more courage to go against his liberal bishops, a generalised use of the Tridentine Mass with an extremely strong following among weekly churchgoers might become the reality in the country in just a few years as there can be no doubt that the enthusiasm for the Tridentine Mass among seminarians is very common.
I thought that in these troubled days, such information might be of some value.
I sometimes wonder whether those who care for such obviously superfluous, clearly failed, ridiculous outfits as ARCIC truly believe in what they are doing or simply enjoy the travels, the meals and the jolly good times.
This news would actually speak for the latter hypothesis. It turns out that the so-called Archbishop of Canterbury has nominated this woman to be part of the Anglican side of the ARCIC team. The Anglican team will be ten strong, which will make for jolly entertaining conversation.
One can imagine the Catholic side sitting in front of the Anglican ones, with the intent of discussing a possible “union” with…… a bishopette. It would make a good “Little Britain” sketch.
On the other hand, if you accept the fact that ARCIC is there to provide selected Anglicans and Catholics with a travel to Italy, some seriously good food and some pleasant conversation the entire exercise truly makes perfect sense.
From the treasure trove of Lux Occulta, here is another vintage booklet that, if you take the 20 minutes to read it, will make you think.
The booklet is called Why Marry and, in a very English way, tries to explain not only to Catholics but, as it is clear from the text, to non-Catholics the beauty and sacredness of what Catholics call the sacrament of marriage.
The booklet, an English production rather than an Irish one as many other Lux Occulta booklets, is rather disconcerting at times. One is rather astonished at seeing disturbances at Mass described as a sort of “sweet music”, though the biscuit goes to the one with the nagging wife being “worse than the adulterous one” (no, you couldn’t sell this in Italy. Not even to women).
Apart from these strange – as I assume they are – British particularities, the booklet shines with a robust dose of common sense in explaining that the Marriage intended in the Catholic way, so apparently old-fashioned, is vastly superior to every alternative devised by lesser ecclesial communities, or by free-thinkers, or by cinema dreamers, or by the human desire for fast solutions.
The booklet is clearly intended to be read also from a non-Catholic audience because the sacramental aspect of the marriage, and the grace a Catholic expects from it, is duly mentioned but not really the focal point of the work. The focal point of the work is based on a very simple concept: that those who bind themselves for life think much harder before they contract their marriage, and fight much harder for its preservation after they’re married.
As a chap born in Italy from parents – and in a generation – which didn’t know divorce in living memory (nor abortion, come to that; nor a lot of other things), I can vouch personally and from the experience of countless relatives and family friends that this was exactly the case. This was the case to such an extent that I can’t easily explain to a contemporary Brit the deadly seriousness with which the generally so debonair, happy-go-lucky Italians went after the business – nay, the life work – of being married. I can’t, because the poor chap doesn’t have a frame of reference for such a behaviour and doesn’t know what it means when an entire society is structured in that way. To understand how it is, you must have lived it.
The same situation I see described in this booklet, where two worlds noisily collide: the young Catholic couple going toward the marriage with deadly seriousness and confident in the sacramental grace of the bond they are going to contract, and the “modern” (alas, all too modern) non-Catholic couple rapidly married in the Town Hall and just as rapidly dissolved at the first difficulty. A marriage, this last, easily broken because carelessly contracted and which must now be, for the sake of the offspring, re-invented and re-started (clearly with a different mentality) again.
The truth is harsh, but it’s true nevertheless: when you only have one go, you’ll pay much attention to what you do; and when this happens the chance of a happy marriage and serene offspring will be vastly increased.
Legalised divorce is a big mistake. A huge one. It destroys the house merely because the stairs are a bit slippery, or the kitchen at times cold. It creates a momentary solution to a problem, and it substitutes it with an often bigger, and an often permanent one. It is the triumph of the fire escape mentality over the constructive approach, the short-term door to a long-term pain. Besides, it creates an atmosphere or self-victimhood that goes beyond ludicrous (and no, it can’t be that there are millions of cruel, violent men out there; and no, extreme cases always make bad laws…).
Legalised divorce is like living in a house with a huge door in the reception room bearing the inscription “Exit Here In Case Of Discomfort”.
Ban on divorce is like living in a house with an inscription saying “Very Probably Your Only Chance”.
Which marriage is more likely to be well thought before the marriage, and successful thereafter?
I have posted today about a beautiful blog post from Gerald Warner, the intrepid “Telegraph” blogger.
In two words, Warner lucidly recognises in the mess of Vatican II the origin of the properly called homosexual paedophile priest scandal. As he very fittingly puts it,
“once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily”.
Warner is also of the opinion that 95% of Catholic bishops worldwide deserve the sack and when you read here you’ll soon know why.
This contribution of another excellent Catholic blogger, Chris Gillibrand, points our attention to a recent homily from the Bishop of Menevia, Tom Burns.
Bishop Burns must deal with the very uncomfortable reality of the homosexual paedophile priest scandal. Besides being his job, the starting point is not different from Gerald Warner’s one. But Bishop Burns is a bishop interested in talking Vatican-II-ese and he can therefore not afford the luxury to look at reality as it is. He reacts by denying reality and apportioning the blame somewhere else, namely where it is convenient to him. I think this is what is called “cognitive dissonance”, but I might be wrong.
In Bishop’s Burns widely warped world, the (homosexual, though he obviously wouldn’t say so) paedophile priest scandal has been caused by clericalism; this is, says the Webster’s dictionary, “a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy”.
You won’t be criticised by me for maintaining that this already shows a remarkable degree of blindness, but it gets better than this. Bishop Burns’ target is not a generic clericalism, but is alarmingly similar to Catholic conservatism. In his own words,
Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails. Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound. Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick. To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination. This clericalism conceals the fact that the Church as an institution has often acted in collusion with what I can only regard as structural sinfulness. It has paid dearly for it and is untrue to its humble Founder, Jesus Christ.
Make no mistake: “flamboyant vestments” here are the traditional ones, not the clown mass ones and the entire statement is a clear linking of conservative Catholicism and (homosexual) paedophile scandal. In Bishop Burn’s vision, the respect traditionally associated with the figure of the priest and the pomp and circumstance linked with traditional Catholic practice has been the enabler of the scandal. He sees in this a structural problem and in those who want to restore these traditional element people who collude with the relevant abuses.
I will refrain, out of respect for the habit, from saying what I think of the man as a Bishop. I will limit myself to say that the poor man sees an elephant in the porcelain shop making a mess of everything and says that the culprits are the porcelain makers.
This Bishop is a serious candidate for what in Italy would be jokingly called “Mongolino d’Oro 2010″. I won’t translate what it means because, as so many Italian expressions, it is deliciously politically incorrect and, as such, not fitting for delicate Anglo-Saxon ears.
Here you’ll find Michael Voris’ take on the recent Mid-term elections. Apart from the very likeable, more directly political observations about Americans and Liberalism, I’d like to point out to some messages which I find extremely pertinent.
1) Voris maintains that Catholic churchgoers are, in their majority, Republicans. This is a very interesting assertion. I’d love to hear from US blog readers whether they agree with Voris’ take.
2) There is a link between the change that has occurred with the election and what is happening within the Church: liberals are kicked out whilst the conservative element irresistibly marches toward the restoration of sanity. I fully agree with this statement; it seems to me that the undercurrent is the same here, and that it does not limit itself to the Catholic world.
3) An additional bold statement is that Catholics in the pews get to vote about the restoration of orthodoxy. Not in the traditional, ballot-like way of course but in the more subtle, slower but rather effective way of choosing where to worship (and whose collection plate to frequent) or where to send the children to school. Such a practice would not be very successful in countries like Italy and Germany – where fund distribution is organised differently – but I can see it having much more bite in countries like the US, relying on private contributions for the upkeep of their religious personnel and structures.
4) Last important point to my eyes: the warning that the US hierarchy, still largely dominated by convenient cowardice about the Church teaching and the conversion of souls, must now choose whether to change course and embrace orthodoxy or be “swept away”. I fail to see where the sweeping would come from if the Pope continues to appoint half-liberal bishops to appease the local clerical communities; but there can be no doubt that what sweeping the Pope will not do, the demographics will in time do for him.
Enjoy the video!
Read here about another exceptional turnout to see the Holy Father.
A 10 hour visit, in a city of 650,000 (without the Province) saw around 300,000 people attending. Rather astonishing.
Whilst I do not like the use of the “miracle” adjective so easily thrown in in Italy in such circumstances, there is no denying that these figures, particularly if seen in context with the others of this year in Europe (Portugal, UK, now Sicily) are extremely impressive.
I think that it is fair to say that the clear way Pope Benedict XVI has started to leave aside the soundbites and substitute them with sound Catholicism is clearly giving fruits.
The crowds (in Italy as everywhere) don’t really like being told uncomfortable truths; but if the truths are repeated and said without apologies and without too much sugar around; if they are told in a way which doesn’t leave much place to hide; if they are said, though, always in an extremely loving spirit; if all this happens, in the end the message slowly begins to get through.
Please notice that this is not made in any way which could be seen as a show, or a concession to the crowds. No rock masses. No kissing of the ground. No Koran kissing. No toleration for “ecumenical” follies. Please note that this is not a man who seeks popularity in any conceivable way: this is the chap telling the Muslims where and why they’re wrong like in Regensburg, or telling the Anglicans that he is the successor of Peter in Westminster Hall, wearing the stole of the Pope who repeated to them that their orders are invalid.
No, the huge turnout is the fruit of more and more people starting to confusedly see the truth: that there is only one Church and that there is only one Truth.
Pope Benedict serves to them the Catholic sunday roast with all the trimmings and they start to understand that even the ingredients who might not look so attractive (like the parsnip of abortion or the broccoli of divorce, please feel free to substitute vegetables with those of your choice) are part and parcel of the entire exercise. The crowds now understand this and whilst not drawing the full consequences yet, they show a desire to stay near to him and to have him continue to stay near to them, because they need his teaching.
I think too highly of Benedict to fear that he would do anything differently if the turnout were not there. I also think that his successors (when the time comes) will be made out of the same mould. But the huge crowds cannot be ignored anymore in the sense that the signal that the uncompromising message of Benedict is received with increasing willingness will not fail to be captured by the sensitive antennae of Western politicians.
Better days ahead.
I was born and raised in Italy. In those years, Catholicism was the “Official Religion of the State” and this was anchored in the Italian Constitution. A Crucifix adorned every classroom. This was, besides its obvious religious significance, a most natural cultural factor. The mere idea of questioning its presence would have seemed bizarre in the extreme.
Then came the (disgraceful) “Revision of the Concordate”. Catholicism was not the Official Religion of the State anymore, but the State recognised the “cultural role” played by the Church in Italy’s life. The Crucifix remained on the school walls, but in “superior schools” at the beginning of the year the teachers had to ask whether there was opposition to it. In my school of twenty classes, opposition never came.
Mind you, this was not because of the absence of atheists (sometimes rather vocal ones; Communists were, after all, still around), but because even the Communists and Atheists would have been ashamed of asking for the removal of something so naturally part of the country’s cultural backbone. It would have been a bit like declaring pasta “fascist” and in those years even the Communists possessed the basic decency to respect commonly and widely spread religious feelings. In short: even those who insisted in being wrong took care not to appear stupid.
There might have been exceptions. I am sure they weren’t many.
Not anymore, you might say, but you’d be wrong. The support for the Crucifix is still widely spread within the Italian society. The biggest party of the Centre-Right coalition (yes, that one!) and the biggest party of the Centre-Left coalition (yes, the one with the ex-Communists in it!) are both in favour. So are many of the smaller parties. So is, in his overwhelming majority, the Country. The Crucifix, some years ago challenged by a Muslim father because – hear this – it “scared his child” was even upheld by the Italian Constitutional Court.
All right, then? Well, er, no. A not-so-well-known organ called Europe’s Human Rights Court (constituted by an even-less-known supranational organisation called Council of Europe, nothing to do with the EU by the way) has decided that the Crucifix has to go. What the tradition, the people, the political parties and the judicial system of the country all consider right is actually, we are informed, wrong.
The Italian government has now presented an appeal, together with another dozen or so countries. Even if they should lose the appeal, I do not doubt that as long as the Centre-Right coalition is in power they will do whatever they please for as long as they please. Italian governments have this down to a fine art and the Italian electorate – always fond of the “furbi” – would like it a lot. I can’t imagine that they would just give up. They might even be hoping to lose the appeal and reap a rich harvest with the opposition to it, but that’s just me.
Still, I must reflect on a couple of things (three, actually):
1) this is what happens when a government consents to participate to feel-good initiatives only meant to create jobs and to show some humanitarian activism. Italy is no Zimbabwe. No, really. It knows a thing or two about human rights, democracy, and Crucifixes. Yes, even the actual Prime Minister
2) I am fed up (as many of you I am sure are) with delegation of Sovereign Powers (at least nominally) to supranational organisations. If you ask me, it means to put your cultural patrimony at the mercy of a bunch of feminists (of whatever sex) and atheists largely of other countries. You don’t want that.
3) This must be reversed. Italy must (as every other European country) proudly re-claim the *right to decide for itself* in matters like this. It can’t be that a bunch of judges start to remould the cultural fabric of an entire Country against the will of its Parliament, Judiciary and people.
If we don’t wake up, we’ll all end up in the hands of a bunch of social nannies playing God at our expense.
And so the Football World Championship is in full swing. One of the things I never fail to notice is the different approach of players from Catholic countries. You see a fair deal of crossing oneself and kissing and looking heavenward.
Yesterday, a very impressive one: the Italian player De Rossi scores the equalizer against Paraguay and the cameras catch him whilst he makes the sign of the cross, kisses his hand and looks heavenward. This was the first game of the defending World Champions and the audience must have been on a planetary scale.
A beautiful gesture. Let us hope to see many others during the Championship.