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Christianity As National Suicide Pact

For Italian Catholics, who better defends their interests: Matteo Salvini, or Pope Francis?

Here is a July 5 from the Vatican’s Migration & Refugees office:


Translation: Immigrants make it possible to solve a problem that the current social security system is not able to face, namely the reduction in the number of Italian workers.

Italy’s unemployment rate is 10.9 percent. Its youth unemployment rate — the highest in the EU — is at almost 20 percent 31.9 percent. But according to the Vatican, Italy needs more immigrants to solve its labor shortage problem.

Here is one from the day before:


It’s a quote from Francesco Montenegro, a Sicilian Cardinal Archbishop, and head of the Italian Catholic bishops’ migration committee: “Migrants, the poor are a thermometer for our faith. Not accepting them, above all by closing our hearts, is not believing in God.”

You don’t support opening the door to the flood of migrants to your country, Italians? You don’t believe in God. So says the Vatican, by retweeting this cardinal’s comment.

According to The Guardian, the Catholic Church in Italy is ramping up in favor of mass migration. Excerpts:

Gianfranco Formenton, a priest in Italy’s central Umbria region who has long preached against racism and in support of migrants, knows what it is like to clash with Matteo Salvini, the recently installed interior minister and leader of the far-right League party.

In response to the party’s xenophobic rhetoric in 2015 – the year more than a million migrants arrived in Europe and 150,000 landed on Italy’s southern shores – he put a sign up on the door of his church in San Martino di Trignano, a hamlet of the town of Spoleto, saying: “Racists are forbidden from entering. Go home!”

He immediately bore the wrath of Salvini, who wrote on Twitter: “Perhaps the priest prefers smugglers, slaveholders and terrorists? Pity Spoleto and this church if this man [calls himself] a priest.”

Think of it! If you believe your country’s borders mean something, then according to this priest, you are a racist who is not welcome in the church.

It gets worse. According to a story in Il Giornale about priests all over Italy becoming migration advocates, Raffaele Nogaro, the retired bishop of Caserta:

The two read the words spoken in an interview by Monsignor Raffaele Nogaro, bishop emeritus of Caserta, in which he said he was ready to “turn all the churches into mosques if it were useful to the cause and if it allowed to save the lives of men and women.”

Think about that. Just think about it.

Keep in mind that this is not about Syrian war refugees, but economic migrants from Africa, who have been pouring into Italy. Now that Salvini has closed Italian ports, Spain — now governed by Socialists — has become the preferred port of entry for these so-called asylum seekers. Reuters:

People-smugglers in Morocco use a rights activist to contact the coastguard, advising it when boats set off for Spain, said coastguard official Oriol Estrada.

“The people traffickers know that the lifeguards are going to come for them,” said Estrada, whose vessel has rescued around 1,200 people so far this year, more than 80 percent of its total for 2017.”They call to say that a certain boat has left such-and-such a coast at a certain time with however many people. They even give the names of those aboard.”

A similar situation developed off Libya before Rome’s recent crackdown, prompting Italy’s ruling League party to accuse rescue ships of running a “taxi service”.

But in Italy, at least, bishops (including the Bishop of Rome) and many priests aid and abet the human smugglers in the name of humanitarianism.

This is suicidal sentimentality. Think of it: a retired bishop said he would turn his churches into mosques for the sake of welcoming migrants. A cardinal says to turn away migrants is to disbelieve in God. A priest orders Catholics who oppose open borders to stay away from church, because they are racist.

As an exasperated Italian Catholic friend said to me today, “This really is The Camp of the Saints.”

The Camp of the Saints, written by Jean Raspail, is a very controversial dystopian novel from 1973 that depicts an invasion by sea of France by Third World migrants, and the moral collapse of French and European institutions in advance of their landing. Three years ago, I read it, and declared it a “bad book,” both morally and aesthetically, but an important one to read because despite its frank racism in parts, it tells — and tells roughly — some important truths. From my 2015 post:

Raspail, a traditionalist Catholic and far-rightist, draws in broad strokes a portrait of a France that has given up. All the country’s institutions and leaders across the board decide that it is the moral duty of all Frenchmen to welcome the armada with open arms. Raspail is at his satirical best mocking the sentimental liberal humanitarianism of the political, media, and clerical classes, all of whom look to the armada as a form of salvation, of redemption for the West’s sins. As I wrote here the other day, the scenario reminds me of the exhausted civilization in Cavafy’s poem “Waiting For the Barbarians.” A couple of years ago, Cavafy translator Daniel Mendelsohn wrote in The New Yorker about the poem and the poet’s political vision (Mendelsohn’s translation of the poem is in the article). Excerpt:

Cultural exhaustion, political inertia, the perverse yearning for some violent crisis that might break the deadlock and reinvigorate the state: these themes, so familiar to us right now, were favorites of Cavafy. He was, after all, a citizen of Alexandria, a city that had been an emblem of cultural supremacy—founded by Alexander the Great, seat of the Ptolemies, the literary and intellectual center of the Mediterranean for centuries—and which had devolved to irrelevancy by the time he was born, in 1863. When you’ve seen that much history spool by, that much glory and that much decline, you have very few expectations of history—which is to say, of human nature and political will.


The cardinal sins in Cavafy’s vision of history and politics are complacency, smugness, and a solipsistic inability to see the big picture. What he did admire, extravagantly, were political figures who do the right thing even though they know they have little chance of prevailing: the great “losers” of history, admirable in their fruitless commitment to ethical behavior—or merely sensible enough to know when the game is up.

Raspail blames France’s elites for this too, with reference to the problem of multiculturalism and migration. He even waylays the fictional pope, “Benedict XVI” (remember, the book was written in 1973), a Latin American (Brazilian) who sells all the treasures of the Vatican to give to the Third World poor, and who exhorts Europe to thrown open its doors to the migrant horde.


Even a bad book may have something valuable to say to us. This is true of The Camp of the Saints. One aspect of the novel that I can’t shake off, though, is Raspail’s portrait of the migrants as not giving a damn about European civilization. It’s nothing personal; rather, they don’t believe they are coming to Europe as beggars who ought to be grateful for charity, but move as a mass that believes it is entitled to what the Europeans have. Europeans, by contrast, are, in the book, the ones who agonize over their civilization, whether it is worth defending, and what it means to be truly Western. The leaders in Camp of the Saints are not consciously surrendering, but rather they mask their cultural surrender with humanitarianism. They think that by flinging their doors open to the Third World masses, they are being good Westerners.

This is why the real villains in Raspail’s novel aren’t the migrants, but the European elites. He believes, it appears, that the Europeans ought to do whatever it takes to defend their civilization from the barbarian invasion. Raspail denounces contemporary France, though, as an exhausted civilization that is eager to be relieved of its burdens. To borrow a line from Cavafy, “those people, the barbarians, were a kind of solution.”

This blog used to have a German reader who wrote from time to time about how he despised Christian leaders in his country for leading the charge to open the borders to migrants. He believed that they were destroying his country. I wonder how Italians, including Italian Catholics, think about what the Pope and many of their bishops and priests are doing on the migration front. The choices these bishops and priests are making, and urging their flock to make, will affect untold future generations of Italians. Do ordinary Catholic laymen in Italy agree that being faithful to Christianity requires national and civilizational suicide? Will they come to blame the clerical class for the destruction of their civilization, and any violence yet to come?

If you were an Italian Catholic, who would you trust more to look out for your interest, and the interest of the Church in your country: Matteo Salvini, or Pope Francis? Normally it would be a crazy question, but these are not normal times.



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