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The recent statements by the Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, on the need to “census” the Roma present in Italy, accompanied by regret at the impossibility of expelling those of Italian nationality, arouse not only astonishment but also concern and challenge us, as citizens and as Catholic associations who live the reality of ordinary people every day, to adopt a position that we believe necessary.

The choice to use such arguments to find political consensus seems even more serious because it is carried out in the Italian context, which has recently been fuelled by fears, threats of alleged invasions, resentment and anger against "the other". It is an approach that recalls the ghosts of a past that we thought far away, and that instead in our country, as in the rest of Europe, reappears with the face of new sovereignties. There is a risk of passing on the idea, unacceptable because it is false, that belonging to a culture automatically means behaving outside the law and therefore finding no place in our social fabric.

Building a policy for Italy by choosing the convenient strategy of continually identifying "enemies" against whom to oppose, be they migrants, stepmother Europe and now the Roma, perhaps demonstrates a skill in tactics, but unfortunately reveals intellectual and political poverty that we fear will have to be paid in the future by the country.

Translated from Italian original by Philippe Ledouble.

 

   The political events of recent months in Italy have revealed a change, not only in the political forms and orientations that characterize the new government, but also in the conscience of the country. We have cultivated for many years the idea that Italians, apart from their defects, were still a hospitable people, open to Europe, capable of dealing seriously with the difficult moments of its history. Today everything seems overturned, as if a great anxiety were eroding our thoughts and changing our beliefs: the processes of globalization and the financialisation of the economy seem unmanageable to us and generate serious social inequalities, and therefore produce in us the need for a defense, which increasingly takes the character of closure. And it is the same mechanism by which we live the migratory phenomena, which we would like to do but we cannot regulate as we like: it is not enough to say that the numbers of migrants in our country are relatively small (also compared with other European countries), because the perception is different. In this situation, which is no different from that of many other realities present in Europe and the United States, the ideal and cultural references on which society was based and on which politics drew have also changed.

Davide Casaleggio, member of the "Five star movement", gave an interview on the overcoming of representative democracy and on Parliament, which will soon become useless, was welcomed by a predictable and vast rag of clothes, starting with the political opposition forces. Appeals to the President of the Chamber (and party colleague of Casaleggio) Roberto Fico, vain evocations of Venezuela, and so on. Such reactions are the faithful thermometer of a widespread inability to generate a culturally and politically equipped response to the season just begun.

From the beginning of his pontificate in 2013, Francis called on European Catholics to oppose the "globalisation of indifference" by mobilising themselves, in particular, to help migrants. Five years after Lampedusa, has Francis' message never been so hard to hear among European Catholics?  At the level of the baptized, parishes or Christian associations, a thousand acts of generosity are undoubtedly carried out. On the other hand, it has to be said that countries with a strong Catholic culture are falling one after the other into the camp of anti-immigration parties. Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Italy now, by different but converging paths, have all joined the club of countries determined to defeat the European Union's policy of reception quotas.  Spain, which hosted the drifting Aquarius, and Portugal may be saving Catholic honour even if they are not on the most important migration routes. Halfway through, France is finding it difficult to get away from the moral stance. The emphasis of public speeches does not hide the difficulties of taking action.

    Facing the current developments and the crisis in our societies, is the rediscovery of the spiritual dimension not necessary? But how can we bear witness to this? Wouldn't it be by showing that the spiritual path is a path of fulfilment for our humanity? To try to answer these questions, I will base myself on two of my works which, precisely, address these subjects, trying on the one hand to update them - with a better consideration of the ecological dimension - and on the other hand to integrate René Macaire's thought, whose intuitions are correct but are too exclusively situated in a Christian framework.

An unbalanced choice.

                In “Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion”, Henri Bergson highlights the fantastic impulse given to the West by Christianity which, by desecrating nature and bringing out individual consciousness, has released man's creative potential. According to him, this dynamic, initiated in the early middle Ages, could lead to two types of process: material development or mystical quest, "control over things" or "self-control that makes things independent".

   The Sub-Africa Africa faces several governance challenges that hinder public sector delivery. Public institutions such as parliament, judiciary and electoral bodies among others- in most countries in Sub-Africa Africa, remain under elite, ethnic and political capture. Voter bribery, intimidation, violence along tribal lines are common elements that characterize electoral process in the region. Social service delivery remains a big challenge. Data from Afrobameter shows that it is common for citizens from sub-Sahara Africa to pay bribes to receive medical care, obtain documents such as national identification cards and passports, get a child into school, avoid problems with the police, and obtain household services like piped water and electricity.

 In order that "bread and justice", that is the material conditions of existence and the definition of what is due to each one, may be assured, favourable political and institutional conditions are needed. I start from an intense meditation that the prior of Bose, Luciano Manicardi, addressed last Saturday to a group of Alexandrians, on the theme "Spirituality and Politics", underlining the importance that those who devote themselves to the service of the polis have a strong inner inspiration and are characterized by capacity for imagination ("resisting" the technocratic paradigm and total institutions), creativity (see reality and invent possible answers) and courage (move from intention to act, "act despite"). This reflection has generated a question for me: what are the inspiring sources, what is the culture of the political families today emerging and their leaders, in Italy and in Europe?

   We live in turbulent times: Financial and economic crisis, Brexit, migration and refugee flows, globalisation of the economy and a worrying waiting trend for populist movements accompany us. The question is obvious: Is European democracy in danger? But there is no simple answer to this question. Extreme positions and one-sided considerations do not lead to anything. Only in a broad and objective discourse can we meet the challenges ahead, survive the changes of time and safeguard European democracy.

   A good example is the biggest economic, financial and sovereign debt crisis since hundred years, which we are just leaving behind more and more. The biggest problem of crisis management in 2007 and 2008 was that the euro is the only currency in the world that still has no national territory, no common budget policy and no common economic policy. But with this reality it was apparently intended to spare the people of Europe for a long time. It was not until the crisis that it had to be made clear that the "lack of Europe" and failures to develop the EU into a monetary, economic and social union were the main causes of Europe's inability to act.