Nationalism And Catholicism Collide In Run-Up To The European Elections

Religion Unplugged | 5/16/2019 | Staff
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Will Italians choose between the church’s teachings or Salvini’s social media-savvy campaign tactics? The feud between the church’s hierarchy and right-wing politicians has put devout Catholics in the middle. Indeed, many church-goers are also devoted to Salvini. For example, among Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week, support for Salvini has doubled — from 15.7 percent in March 2018 to 31.8 percent four months later during the height of the migrant crisis from Africa, according to an Ipsos poll. At the same time, Francis’ popularity in Italy has steadily declined.

While Salvini’s poll numbers rise (he has a penchant for taking selfies with his supporters), so does the resistance from publications like Familia Cristiana. In December 2018, the magazine ran a cover story denouncing a new immigration decree backed by Salvini, which would cancel asylum protection for immigrants.

Alberto - Melloni - Church - Historian - Salvini

Alberto Melloni, a church historian, said Salvini’s politics are a new religion.

“The problem with Salvini's operation is that he doesn’t just want the votes of Catholics,” he said in an interview. “Sometimes it almost seems like he wants their souls.”

Forza - Italia - Party - Prime - Minister

Also running are Forza Italia, the party founded by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The media mogul-turned-politician has also gained widespread support in recent years and once had the backing of church leaders before a series of scandals tarnished him. Berlusconi’s has also said he favors deporting immigrants.

Opposition parties, meanwhile, have complained that the focus on immigration has distracted from the country’s real problems such as combating organized crime, which has been a major problem in Italy for decades. Instead, Salvini has used his social...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion Unplugged
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