- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Nuovi Amici Cristiani

Yes, I know, everyone wants to read the news of the conflict in the Church, but this post is about peace in the Church, among those who share a common confession in Jesus Christ. That is the more important part of my trip here. The greatest blessing of these European book tours has been to meet other Christians who, even if they don’t share all my beliefs about the Benedict Option, do share a common faith in God.

Above is Eduard Habsburg, the Hungarian ambassador to the Holy See, and a Twitter friend. “Next time you’re in Rome, look me up,” he once said. So, I did. We spent a wonderful long morning yesterday in the embassy, talking about the Benedict Option, and, believe it or not, our families. Of all the things he is — an ambassador, a Habsburg, and so forth — it’s clear that the identity that is most important to Eduard Habsburg is “Catholic father.” It was a joy to see him with his kids, and to see the clear love that passes among that family. A happy family is a blessing to everyone. Eduard said at one point that he believes the future of the Church in Europe will be very hard, but that it will depend heavily on happy Catholic families.

Here is Archbishop Zuppi of Bologna, with whom I had a public discussion last night in Bologna. He was kind enough not to point out that I had a piece of escarole on my teeth:

Mons. Zuppi was every bit as gentle as they said he would be. I was told in advance that Zuppi, who is a theological progressive, faced heavy criticism from some progressive Catholics for agreeing to meet me. But he did it anyway, saying he had nothing to fear from dialogue. I was very grateful to him for that, and though I am sure we have significant disagreements, it was good to spend time with this Christian brother.

This is Gabriella, whose last name I don’t know. She was my translator in Bologna. She is a superhero. The event was very difficult for me, but she made it as seamless as possible. Difficult, because I had a clip in my ear in which she was doing simultaneous translation for me of Mons. Zuppi’s Italian comments into English, and — get this — when I spoke, she translated me simultaneously into Italian for the audience, over the loudspeaker. For me, that was really hard, trying to filter out the voice of the Italian woman booming over the loudspeaker, and focus on my words. If I sounded distracted at times, this is why. But Gabriella helped me through this exercise with great gusto and kindness. I am in her debt.


Several kind people came up to me afterward and asked me to sign their copies of L’Opzione Benedetto. One young man, a teacher, said, “When I read this, I knew that I wasn’t alone.” Here are the Ferraresis, from Modena, the parents of the US-based Italian journalist Mattia Ferraresi. They brought me a bottle of authentic balsamic vinegar of Modena that they made themselves. Can you believe? This is so precious to me, given how much I love to cook. I told the Ferraresis that their son, who is a friend of mine, is a good man.

“Thank you,” said Mr. Ferraresi, with a twinkle in his eye, “but we hope he is a good Christian.” Perfetto!

What a country, Italy! What a people! Glory to God for them all. I am about to go to Comacchio, to meet with the Tipi Loschi and friends. I’ll report back.

9 Comments (Open | Close)

9 Comments To "Nuovi Amici Cristiani"

#1 Comment By Joe On September 13, 2018 @ 8:55 am

Yes, the most daring and countercultural act one can engage in is to father happy Catholic children. In my community (Brothers and Sisters of Charity), we focus on the absolute need to live in community if our families are have a chance developing as Catholic Christians. I had the chance to do so when raising my kids and I cannot imagine doing otherwise as my children grew up knowing something else, however imperfect, than secular hedonism.

I have heard it said that one of the reasons for the lack of vocations to the priesthood is the necessity of vocations to Catholic fatherhood of families. An interesting idea.

However one does it, this is the way to go. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity, as it is a pearl of great value.

#2 Comment By Locksley On September 13, 2018 @ 10:57 am

The Archduke Eduard may be using Wildroot.

#3 Comment By Gianni Varani On September 13, 2018 @ 11:43 am

Dear mr. Dreher, I was in Bologna, yesterday, for Incontri esistenziali. Very interesting. Thanks a lot. Anyway, when I’ve heard your serious problems and doubts about Catholic Church and so on (I’m catholic, or, better, I try to be…) I had a question, a curiosity: did you read Chesterton’s Orthodoxy? He wrote it in 1908, many years before his entrance in the Catholic life, and there he told that he faced the terrible charges, accusations against Church, thinking that – with so many enormous charges – if true, the Church should be a nightmare… or something very different… I think that GKC (a close friend of Sermarini) is really present and useful, today…

#4 Comment By charles cosimano On September 13, 2018 @ 12:22 pm

A Hapsburg? I thought the recessive genes had killed them off long ago. What next, a Wittlesbach?

We must toast this with neat Bourbon.

Still, the image of him in his shirtsleeves… I would have expected something Graustarkian.

Does he talk like Bela Lugosi? “The blood of the peasants is impure, it causes terrrrrible zeeets.”

Where is Rufus T. Firefly when we need him?

I’m sorry. I’m being plebian this morning. Enjoy your trip and try not to accidentally sit on your laurels. They hurt.

#5 Comment By JohnH On September 13, 2018 @ 2:43 pm

When i was in Japan I had the experience of having an interpreter. I made the mistake of calling her a translator and was informed by a coworker that that was an insult- translators work on paper (translate a book for instance) and interpreters work real-time vocally which is considered much harder. Not sure if the Italians care, but the words really do mean different things.

#6 Comment By Mark VA On September 13, 2018 @ 6:21 pm

Dear Mr. Cosimano:

You show absolutely no respect toward your betters! It remains unclear, however, if you should be reprimanded or applauded. Anyway, in case the younger readers never met Rufus:


By the way, you’ve mucked up Romania with Hungary, and possibly Freedonia as well – ah, close enough.

#7 Comment By Ted On September 13, 2018 @ 7:04 pm

“Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen ist somit ein Urururenkel von Franz Joseph und Elisabeth (Sisi).”

Imagine that!

#8 Comment By Bar Bill On September 14, 2018 @ 6:34 am

Hey Rod, any discussions with Herr Habsburg re: the restoration of the monarchy? I like a family that has its own flag.


[NFR: Heh. — RD]

#9 Comment By William Tighe On September 16, 2018 @ 7:06 am

Uncle Chuckie wrote:

“A Hapsburg? I thought the recessive genes had killed them off long ago. What next, a Wittlesbach?”

The male line of the Habsburgs died out in 1740. The present Habsburgs are really, in the male line, the House of Lorraine: