European Elections: Two High Prelates Enter the Arena

Source: FSSPX News

Bishop Mariano Crociata and Cardinal Matteo Zuppi

While the national conservative parties are poised to increase their number of seats in the European Parliament, the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) and that of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) are cosigning a plea in favor of the European project initiated by the fathers of Christian democracy.

Supporters of Ursula von der Leyen and the centrist parties probably did not hope for so much, especially since April 11, 2024, the fateful day which saw the European Parliament vote on--with 336 votes for, 163 against, and 309 abstentions--the resolution looking to modify Article 3 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in order to include in it the right to abortion.

The most attacked champions of Europeanism once again showed their true colors: those of a progressivism trampling underfoot the most basic rights, such as the right to life. Not to mention those of the Creator, which have long since disappeared from the horizon of post-modernity.

It is therefore surprising that these parties have undreamt-of support in the person of two prelates exercising high functions in the Church, and whom the press often presents--rightly or wrongly--as close to the current Roman Pontiff.

On May 9, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, President of the CEI, and special envoy of the Pope for the war in Ukraine--a papabile of the Community of Sant’Egidio--and Bishop Mariano Crociata, Bishop of Latina (Italy), President of COMECE, published a long letter with a very political flavor a month before the European elections. 

The two prelates call for rejecting the “nationalist temptation,” which seems to be, in their eyes, the only real danger threatening the EU. For in the eyes of progressives, there is danger: in Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) and the Identity and Democracy Group (ID), uniting a good part of the national conservative European delegates, could achieve a good score in the Europeans elections.

At the conclusion of the vote on June 9, 2024, the elected representatives of these parties, who plead for a return to a Europe of nations, could occupy a quarter of the seats in the Strasbourg Hemicycle, compared to 18% today, according to projections.

The letter cosigned by the two ecclesiastics is disarming in its naivete, even its blindness: how can we on one hand “suffer while seeing that” the parliamentarians “are afraid of life, do not know how to defend it and welcome it from its beginning to its end,” while implicitly calling to vote for those who supported the culture of death just a few weeks ago?

Commenting on this letter in an editorial dated May 10 in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Stefano Fontana denounces an “existentialist” dimension which takes precedence over the Christian Faith. In a seesaw effect, “The worldly and existential horizon [defended by the two prelates] becomes the only valuable criterion for evaluating the Christian Faith,” the journalist notes.

In other words: “There is a dimension of human existence which precedes any philosophical, religious, atheistic choice... and in which we are all brothers. This existential a priori must absolutely be defended and no subsequent option can undermine or weaken it.” “The letter expresses the the Church’s adherence to all the current pro-European practices, with unquestioning approval,” Stefano Fontana concludes.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich expressed a very similar thought on Europe, in an interview with La Croix: “If I have to choose between two relative evils, an imperfect Europe or its absence, I will always choose the European Union. Not having this European Union would be by far the worst option.” It is the same existential presupposition.

“From June 6-9, some 370 million voters in the EU’s 27 countries will cast ballots to elect the 720 lawmakers who will make up the next European Parliament,” Crux notes. For Cardinal Zuppi, this will be a full-scale test to see if the power of his pen will have succeeded in influencing the electoral trend which is taking shape in the Italian peninsula.

This entry--unconvincing--into the European political arena, risks on the other hand being scrutinized by voters within the Sacred College: the “political” dimension of the current pontificate is often reproached. Entering into this arena could thus cost Cardinal Zuppi dearly in terms of ecclesiastical popularity.