How the EU Betrayed its Christian Founding Principles
By Filip Mazurczak
When many conservatives hear of “European integration,” they roll their eyes. The term evokes sclerotic, secularist Brussels bureaucracy out of touch with ordinary Europeans that wants to control every detail of nominally sovereign member-states’ lives. Recently, Pope Francis has vowed to speed up the cause for beatification of one of the European project’s founders Alcide de Gasperi (1881-1954), a devout Catholic committed to the principle of subsidiarity. Perhaps this gesture may remind us that the problem isn’t with European integration itself, but with its having wandered so far from its roots.
In January, Pope Francis met with Maria Romana de Gasperi. Since 2003, the beatification caused of her father, Alcide de Gasperi, has been put on hold after his postulator, Father Tito Sartori, resigned from his position without a new one being assigned. Maria Romana de Gasperi has stated that Francis had promised her he would speed up the cause. Although the Italian press wrote about this meeting, it went unnoticed in English-language publications.
Alcide de Gasperi was born in 1881 in Pieve Testino in the northern Italian Trentino region. It was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1919, although most of its inhabitants were Italians. The future prime minister was deeply influenced by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), which gave birth to Catholic social teaching, and as a high school student became involved with the nascent Christian social movement. After receiving his doctorate in 1905, de Gasperi became a journalist for LaVoce Cattolica (later renamed Il Nuovo Trentino). In 1911, he became a deputy to the Austrian parliament, later co-founding the Italian People’s Party, which based its platform on Catholic social teaching, along with Father Luigi Sturzo.
By 1922, Benito Mussolini’s Fascists came to power in Italy. If for the Nazis nation and race were supreme, and for the communists class was, the Fascists deified the state. Initially, de Gasperi supported cooperation between his party and the Fascists, yet as Mussolini started creating a violent statist police dictatorship and ultimately dissolved de Gasperi’s party by force, de Gasperi joined the anti-Fascist movement. As a result, he was sentenced to prison in 1926, but was released due to the intervention of Pope Pius XI, who employed him in the Vatican Library. He spent the war fighting in Italy’s anti-Fascist partisan movement.
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