Catholics and politics

NoonSeptember 4, 2022 – 09:21

from Mario Rusciano time and still, in the fierce competition of 25 September, the political absence of Catholics is complained: last, with acute observations, Ernesto Galli della Loggia (Corriere della Sera, 29 August). Sharing the hope of Andrea Riccardi (Corriere della Sera, August 18) of a public voice of Catholics, Galli della Loggia seems to force his thinking a little. He believes that Riccardi, hoping for the public voice, implicitly alludes to a political voice, to the point of understanding a political party by political voice. Basically the wish of a Catholic party, such as Christian Democracy, hegemonic in Italian politics in the second half of the last century. In reality, public presence and political presence do not coincide. It does not seem that the public voice implies the existence of a party, perhaps longa manus of the Church. Some perplexities also arise about the indefinability of the Catholic identity due to the absence of the Catholic party. Because the Catholic identity is plural by nature. The example of the different spiritual paths, through the centuries, of the various religious Orders (Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, etc.) suffice. Nor can it be said that the public voice of Catholics is now missing. Not only that of Pope Francis. On many occasions of undoubted political-social importance, bishops, parish priests and movements, some active in the third sector, make themselves heard. The fact that now the Christian identity is derived from works rather than words. For example, the commitment of Caritas to feed people in need is undeniable, whose dizzying increase is one of the most serious emergencies of our time. In practice, Catholics act in the manner most appropriate to their creed. Without forgetting that, beyond devotionism, even non-religious movements act for the good of their neighbor, that is Christianly. Therefore a Catholic party would serve neither to the Church nor to society. When an attempt was made to found it in 2020, thinking of making it the center of the political arena, it was unsuccessful. Not so much because of the lack of introduction of the coveted proportional electoral system but because in principle it is an illusion that religious faith – an unfathomable part of the individual conscience – acts as the glue of a political party in secularized societies. Where it happens – for example Islam – religious fundamentalism reigns, contrary to the Christian message based on freedom.

In fact, Christ himself destroyed religiosity understood as a system of imposed precepts, giving space to laicity (give to Caesar what Caesar’s, to God what God’s). The exception of the DC after World War II does not apply: at the time the glue of the Catholic aggregation was not faith but the risk of communism, persecutor of Christianity and of every religion (opium of the peoples). Not surprisingly, with the fall of communism with the Berlin wall and thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev (1989-90), the decline of both the DC and the minor parties in the center, always in government, and of the PCI, always in opposition (blocked democracy) began. ).

The fall of communism, as we know, a historical turning point in politics, not only in Italy. Recalling the steps in broad terms, with the introduction of the majority electoral system in the early 1990s, the alternation between center-left and center-right was thought of. In fact, after the victory of the right led by Berlusconi (1994), the Catholic Romano Prodi founded the Olive tree (prodrome of the Democratic Party) and won the elections (1996) by combining democratic Catholicism and the progressive left. That turning point therefore had repercussions on the Catholic world, but the Church had begun to distance itself from active politics since the Second Vatican Council. Rightly: because, without prejudice to the dogmas, there is no single way of living the faith. In fact, in politics, believers are both in the center-right and in the center-left, according to the free different conception of the Church-institution. There are those who conceive the Church as power (the Constantinian traditionalists) and those who conceive it as a service (the innovators: from Cardinal Martini to Pope Francis). Everyone – cardinals, bishops, priests, lay people – profess the same faith, living it in different, however respectable ways. Only the squalid, unfortunately recurring, exploitations (display of crucifixes, rosaries, sacred images) that of religion make hypocritical politicians to take the votes (electoral, not religious) are unacceptable. The political diaspora of believers, therefore, depends on the life of faith that each one chooses and has his own conscience judge. Therefore today, faced with the irrepressible pluralism of ideas and behaviors, there does not seem to be room for a Catholic party. This does not mean the absence and silence of believers. Who have the duty to participate in political life (and above all to vote) but in full freedom, not entangled in a party that, under the Catholic label, claims to impose its decisions on believers and non-believers. Even on civil rights the believer questions his conscience and testifies to his faith without wanting to impose it on those who think otherwise. If spirituality, whether religious or secular – a value of enormous significance – penetrated families and intermediate bodies, it would be useful for civil coexistence even in a secularized society, as long as it is not imprisoned in a sectarian vision of human existence, advanced by the parties. politicians.

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September 4, 2022 | 09:21


Catholics and politics