So, what does Giorgia Meloni’s triumph signify for Italian Catholics?

So, what does Giorgia Meloni’s triumph signify for Italian Catholics?

Giorgia Meloni and her “Fratelli d’Italia” (Brothers of Italy) party won the most recent election in Italy, making headlines throughout the world.

Meloni prevailed on a platform that upholds traditional families, a sense of place in the world, and the nation’s Christian heritage. She said “no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, nay to gender ideology” at a speech earlier this year.

Meloni cannot be categorized as either a post-fascist or just a leader of the far-right since he is the founder of a party that emerged from a postwar movement that was created from the ashes of fascism.

She has endorsed and congratulated newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as part of her Atlanticist stance on the world stage.

Meloni is not opposed to the idea of a European Union in theory, but she is critical of how Europe runs the danger of imposing laws on nation-states when it comes to European matters.

In other words, despite what it would appear at first, Meloni’s politics are far more complex in actuality. This explains why the politician has received some courtesy from the Catholic authorities in Italy after her election triumph.

Italian political heritage

Grasp this reality requires an understanding of Italian history. After fascism, the Christian Democrats, a strong Catholic party, were brought back into power in Italy, and they went on to dominate elections for many years.

Among the first to oppose Nazism were Catholics.

A group of Catholics who met at the Tuscan monastery of Camaldoli in 1943, already towards the conclusion of the war, to establish the guiding principles for a post-fascist state served as the inspiration for the Italian Constitution.

Traditional parties, notably the Christian Democrats, were destroyed by the major corruption scandal known as Tangentopoli in Italian politics at the beginning of the 1990s.

Members of the Christian Democrats joined these new parties as well as other political organizations as they emerged.

Both former Christian Democrats and members of the previous left-leaning parties make up the present Italian Democratic Party, which is seen as being on the center-left.

Enrico Letta, the secretary, has a history with the Christian Democrats. Similar to this, groups in Italy that are regarded as center-right, like Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, have in its ranks not just former socialists and members of the historically secular and even anti-clerical Italian Liberal Party, but also descendants of the Christian Democrats.

The so-called center party, the first legitimate descendant of the Christian Democrats, was first backed by the Italian Church. A Catholic party was eventually replaced by Catholics in politics as the Italian bishops’ strategy changed to favor political themes and principles rather than specific political groupings.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini presided over the Italian Bishops’ Conference throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s. Ruini created the phrase “nonnegotiable ideals” in the context of fierce legislative debates.

At a period when legislative activities encouraged euthanasia, in-vitro fertilization, and even abortion as a matter of personal conscience, he originally meant the value of life when he said “nonnegotiable principles.”

The topic of non-negotiable ideals has taken on increased complexity in the wake of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco and Ruini’s leadership of the bishops’ conference.

With Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti in charge of the Italian Bishops’ Conference since 2014, the Church in Italy has perhaps lost some focus on the values platform in favor of a more practical examination of the problems of poverty and the economy.

It was a tactical decision prompted by the growing exclusion of Catholics from politics and the shrinking role of the Church’s social teaching in the emergence of the new ruling elite. In the early 2010s, initiatives to establish new Catholic cultural platforms were made. Due to an economic and institutional emergency, Mario Monti, an economist, took over as head of state.

To all of this, it must be emphasized that communist ideology has significantly influenced Italian culture. It should be recalled that after the war, Italy had the biggest Communist Party outside of the Iron Curtain.

An anti-fascist resistance narrative was actively constructed by the Communist Party. However, the communist partisans were also responsible for horrifying atrocities and the deliberate assassination of priests, including Rolando Rivi, a newly beatified seminarian.


The Italian Catholic platform


The historical backdrop sheds light on how Catholic thinking developed in Italy, particularly in the years that followed the Second Vatican Council. Then, the story of a rupture, which desired a Church more dedicated to social causes and less to the centers of power, clashed with the demand for identity in Catholicism in Italy.


As an example, the Italian Democratic Party, headed by the former Christian Democrat Letta, was a major supporter of the most recent anti-homophobia legislation that may have instituted gender classes in classrooms.


Therefore, it is not unexpected that Giorgia Meloni has received support from the Catholic vote in Italy. The Catholic center turned to the political party that most closely matched certain principles since it lacked a political party of reference.


Voters for Meloni are likely to be those who opposed two legislation on civil unions by attending Family Day events in Italy in 2007 and 2016.


In 2019, Massimo Gandolfini, the person in charge of organizing the most recent Family Day, said: “We recognize that Brothers of Italy and Giorgia Meloni are pursuing a policy to the advantage of the family, for the defense of life from conception to natural death, and the educational freedom of parents.”


Meloni, on the other hand, has encountered suspicion and worries due to his leadership of a party with a fascist history.


Her visit with Cardinal Robert Sarah, emeritus head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, received a lot of attention. However, additional discussions with Vatican leaders took place. There are also rumors of communication with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state for the Vatican.


A meeting with Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, is added to this. Zuppi made it apparent that he knew Meloni well in an interview with the Italian bishops’ journal Avvenire on September 28. He said that the Italian Church was dedicated to working with all parties.


It is important to keep in mind that Zuppi is a representative of Sant’Egidio, a movement that is more in line with the demands of the center-left than the center-right, in order to properly comprehend the background.


The status of the Italian bishops


Generally speaking, the Italian bishops maintain a low profile, refrain from endorsing any specific political candidate, and only make remarks on the secretary of state or maybe the president of the bishops’ conference.


Meloni also remained unnoticed. In contrast to previous campaigns, hers did not capitalize on religious belief. Meloni’s speech, although typically thought to be conservative, was political rather than religious.


People who know the president of the “Fratelli” have said that she “considers herself part of the Church, highly respectful of Pope Francis even though she may not comprehend or share some [aspects] of his remarks or conduct.”


Additionally, she lectured on Catholic social teaching during the Communion and Liberation Meeting in Rimini, which takes place every August.


Italian brothers and the Italian Church


He accepted the reality of Meloni’s position and her party’s victory, saying in an interview with Corriere Della Sera on September 28 that “intellectuals are on the left, but the actual nation is on the right.”


Ruini made the observation that the Catholic community in Italy has historically aligned more with the so-called center-left than the center-right. Like everywhere, there is a sense of a significant divide between those who defend unassailable principles and others who favor a more practical strategy for addressing today’s difficulties. But this is only a view; the truth is more complicated.


For the Italian Catholic community, maybe now is the right moment for a nuanced healing of differences. Politician Giorgia Meloni is not a Catholic. But the Catholic electorate was also won over by the principles she upholds. You should only deny this truth at your risk.

»So, what does Giorgia Meloni’s triumph signify for Italian Catholics?«

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