At the beginning of August Italian Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, accused by liberals within Catholicism of “exploiting” the religion because he holds aloft his rosary and kisses its crucifix at political rallies, announced withdrawal of his party, the League, from the coalition government it formed with the ideologically incoherent and now fading 5-Star Movement while also calling for snap national elections in the clear and well-founded hope that he would emerge as leader of a majority nationalist populist Italy. The move was not a surprise. Many observers had seen it as likely ever since Salvini’s party proved the big winner in last May’s E.U. parliamentary elections.
The reaction of Pope Francis to Salvini’s move was also predictable. The very next day La Stampa newspaper published an interview with him. “I am concerned,” His Holiness said, “because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934.”
When they speak of nationalist populist and overtly Christian political leaders, it is commonplace for liberals to resort to ad Hitlerum arguments. It will be remembered, for instance, that Hillary Clinton compared Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Hitler.
Pope Francis established his credentials as a globalist when he declared in 2017 that “nationalist agendas risk thwarting the courageous dreams of the founders of Europe.” By “Europe” he meant the so-called European project – i.e., the E.U.
Far from being another Hitler, Salvini stands with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others at the intersection where tradition and religion, nationalism, and populism converge, forming a nexus around which individual peoples of former Christendom can organize in order to resist the globalist elites who benefit when ordinary folks are too liable to lose their freedom and identity as well as jobs thanks to open borders, the operations of multinational corporations without loyalty or allegiance to any country, and a view of life in which God does not exist.
Salvini’s move has been checked and may even be thwarted altogether. Liberals in parliament managed to delay debate on the no confidence motion he filed. Then, rather than face the debate and actual vote, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation. He did so in an hour-long speech in which, among other things, he accused Salvini of “manipulating religious symbols” to “obscure the principles of a modern secular state.” Even as he did, Salvini reached into his pocket, pulled out his rosary and kissed it.
The parliamentary delay and Conte’s resignation have provided time for the 5-Star Movement and leftist Democratic Party to try to form a liberal coalition government from which Salvini and the League will be excluded. Will they succeed?
The stakes are high, but Salvini’s League followers don’t call him il Capitano (the Captain) for nothing. In the five years since he took over leadership of their party, he has navigated it from five percent voter support to today’s thirty-eight percent, just two percentage points short of what a party needs in order to form a government without any coalition partner. If excluded from government, he will be a formidable opposition leader.
Considering the news out of Turkey the other day, leaders like Salvini and Orban unafraid to assert Christian interests are needed more than ever. For some time the Islamist Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been demanding the right of Turkish nationals to move around between European countries without visas as if they were citizens of an E.U. member nation. The E.U. has resisted the demand, but now, in effect, the Turks are attempting blackmail. To understand the situation you need to know that more than three million Syrians are currently sheltered in refugee camps in Turkey. They are refugees from the civil war in their country that began when the U.S. under Barack Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to back efforts to overthrow the government of President Bashir al-Assad. Now the Turks are threatening to “open the floodgates” to let the refugees into Europe.
The threat was stated by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. Here is exactly what he declared: “If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience.”
Of course the real threat, whether in the form of millions of Syrian refugees or of Turks free to enter without visas, is the Islamization of a Continent that was Christian until it became, to echo Giuseppe Conte, modern and secular (and thus open to being blackmailed).