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Rome & the World: Italy’s elections and the Church • Etienne Gilson 40 years after his death

Mario Draghi Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi Giorgia Meloni AFP Shutterstock

Tiziana FABI / AFP - Alessia Pierdomenico via Shutterstock

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 09/26/22

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Monday 26 September 2022
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1. Will Italy’s elections hurt Pope Francis? 
2. Thomism versus rationalism: 44 years after his death, Étienne Gilson’s ideas remain important
3 . The canton of Lucerne does not want to finance the new Swiss Guards barracks
4. Torpedoing the presidential election leads to the collapse of the Republic, worries Patriarch Rai
5. German bishops meet amid crisis
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1Will Italy’s elections hurt Pope Francis?

Yesterday, Sunday 25 September, Italians went to the polls to vote for a new parliament, which will lead to a new prime minister. The party that received the most votes is the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia, “which combines disaffection from Republican institutions with a nostalgia for the fascism of Benito Mussolini,” comments Massimo Faggioli, Italian religion historian, in the liberal magazine, Commonweal. The party’s victory means that its leader, Giorgia Meloni, will be Italy’s first woman and first “hard-right-wing” prime minister. Faggioli’s opinion article, however, centers on the Vatican and the Church’s “unusually cautious” reaction to these elections and how a right-wing victory could affect Pope Francis’ position in the country. The Italian historian underlines, for example, how the Jesuit magazine close to the Vatican, Civiltà Cattolica, has “published nothing about what’s at stake in these elections,” which it usually has during other elections. The Italian bishops did publish a statement encouraging citizens to vote and reminding them to remember the most marginalized, but Faggioli analyzes that the Catholic leadership is “overwhelmed by the gap between the seriousness of the situation and the forces at their disposal, underscoring the growing political irrelevance of the Catholic Church in Italy.” Faggioli also emphasizes a “difficulty of communication between Francis and the Italian bishops.” The new president of the bishops’ conference, Bologna Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, is part of the Community of Sant’Egidio, which has seen some of its members running for parliament on a slate connected to the center-left Democratic Party, whose positions do not always coincide with the Church. On the other hand, Zuppi knows that some clerics and Catholics would welcome a right-wing government that, although anti-immigration, could also oppose recognizing LGBT rights or relaxing abortion laws. The Italian historian assesses that the influence of Catholicism politically in Italy is far weaker than in the past and also wonders whether Italian bishops and the Vatican “are underestimating” the repercussions of these elections on the Church. “With a hard-right government in Italy, Francis would be forced to find a way to live with political leaders who have a very different worldview and even a different language than he has. A new government in Italy could very easily strengthen opposition to Francis and severely limit the social and political reception of his pontificate’s core message,” concludes Faggioli. 

Commonweal, English 

2Thomism versus rationalism: 44 years after his death, Étienne Gilson’s ideas remain important

On the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the death of the French historian of philosophy Étienne Gilson (1884-1978), Quebec Catholic magazine Le Verbe published a long article on the life of this intellectual, who is often misunderstood but who played an essential role in the rediscovery of the Christian philosophical heritage. Alex La Salle, the author of the article, underlines how useful Gilson’s thought is for understanding why Christianity cannot be associated with irrationality. The French historian, at a time when rationalism had become the dominant thought, was the first to demonstrate that the roots of modern rationality were to be found in the Thomistic scholasticism of the Middle Ages, at the time considered by the Hegelian philosopher Victor Cousin as “the night of thought.” “The Middle Ages conquered the rights of reason for modern thought,” estimated Gilson, who had a lot of difficulty finding his place in a French university where atheism, under the guise of secularism, often forbade interest in Christian thinkers. Initially hostile to scholasticism himself, he changed his point of view when he discovered that the figurehead of modern rationalism, René Descartes, had himself been strongly inspired by medieval thought. Gilson went on to become one of the greatest specialists in Christian thought, and in particular in Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Le Verbe, French 

3 . The canton of Lucerne does not want to finance the Swiss Guards’ new barracks

In Switzerland, the people of Lucerne have rejected with 71.48% of the votes the possibility to contribute up to 400,000 francs to the reconstruction of the Swiss Guards’ barracks in Rome. 

Cath.ch, French

4. Torpedoing the presidential election leads to the collapse of the Republic, worries Patriarch Rai

“Any attempt to torpedo the presidential deadline aims to cause the fall of the Republic, on the one hand, and to marginalize the Christian role, especially Maronite, at the level of power, on the other hand, while we are the fathers of this Republic and the standard bearers of the national partnership,” lamented Cardinal Bechara Boutros Pierre Raï, in his homily on Sunday. In Lebanon, presidential elections are expected to take place in the fall.

IciBeyrouth, French

5. German bishops meet amid crisis

The autumn plenary assembly of the German Bishops’ Conference begins a few weeks after the fourth synodal assembly, which revealed tensions within the episcopate concerning a possible reformulation of sexual morality.

Katholisch.de, German

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Rome & the World
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