Meloni meets Cardinal Sarah and looks for banks among the traditionalist prelates

Looking for interlocutors from beyond the Tiber, Giorgia Meloni he crossed the threshold of the Vatican to meet Cardinal Robert Sarah, champion of traditionalist Catholics, one of the most critical voices of Pope Francis’ line. In the geography of Roman power, the sacred palaces are a must for those who are preparing to go to the government. And there is no doubt that if the leader of the Brothers of Italy went to Palazzo Chigi, for her, as happened for every predecessor of her, the doors of the Apostolic Palace would be open, regardless of past misunderstandings or present differences. Meloni and her entourage, however, have not, at least so far, a dense network of relationships with the men who count in Pope Francis ‘Vatican, as well as among the bishops of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. A distance certified by Meloni herself, who in her autobiography, “I am Giorgia”, notes, after having sung the praise of John Paul II and Benedict XVI: “I have followed every pontiff, but not with the same enthusiasm. age, and the awareness that she carries with her, but although I am Catholic and I have never allowed myself to criticize a pope, I admit that I have not always understood Pope Francis. to have the privilege of being able to talk to him, because I am sure that his big eyes and his direct words will be able to make sense of what I do not understand “. For now, the feeling is rather with old guard personalities, like the cardinal Camillo Ruini, which already in 2020 highlighted that Meloni was “deservedly on the crest of the wave”. A matched harmony, as evidenced by the inclusion, in the lists of Brothers of Italy, of personalities such as Massimo Gandolfini And Eugenia Roccella linked precisely to the Family day of Ruini memory. Or as shown by the enthusiastic wishes that the right-wing leader expressed last year, for her ninety-first birthday, to Ruini himself, “always a solid point of reference on the great ethical and anthropological challenges of our time”.

The outlook has changed today. The bridges are at work, in the Brothers of Italy and in the Secretariat of State, to dilute the differences from the Bergamo world and prepare a probable cohabitation between the two banks of the Tiber. In the meantime, however, Giorgia Meloni it has moved to test the ground in the Vatican. And she did it by visiting the Cardinal Sarah. The meeting, which took place recently, was held in a confidential manner. According to what filters from the sacred rooms, it was the leader of the Brothers of Italy who asked, without intermediaries, a meeting with the Guinean cardinal. Robert Sarahafter all, he usually receives various guests, including representatives of the political world. In the past, to say, he received the Northern League player Lorenzo Fontana, a loyalist of Matteo Salvini and his trait d’union with the conservative Catholic archipelago (Sarah did not receive, however, Salvini himself, who instead, already in the years of the yellow government -green, had approached the American cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, another champion of the ultraconservatives and big fan of Donald Trump). Cardinal Sarah, 77, is retired today, but remains a point of reference, not only in Italy, for traditionalist Catholics. When they portray him as one of the exponents of the curial opposition to Francis, he protests, and assures him of all his obedience to the reigning pontiff.

Personal relations with Bergoglio are cordial, but dissonances abound. Not only because the Argentine pope, who inherited it from his predecessors, first appointed him to the congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican dicastery responsible for the liturgy, and then put him to rest in a rather hasty way. Not only that, again, because years ago the pope publicly disavowed his prefect for having interpreted in a conservative key a decree that left the national episcopates wide margins in matters of liturgy. But because, even without fanfare, each opening by Francesco corresponds to a closure by Sarah. The pope whips the “backwardness” of those who follow the Tridentine missal and the African cardinal defends the celebration according to the ancient rite, the so-called “Latin mass”. Bergoglio opens to communion for the divorced and remarried, to civil unions between homosexuals, to a less judgmental approach on family life, and Cardinal Sarah takes sides against any alleged doctrinal “watering down”, accuses the “gay lobbies” of spending themselves because “homosexual acts they are perceived as normal acts that even enjoy rights “, denounces the introduction in Africa of contraception as” confusion between good and evil “promoted by the West. The Argentine pope beats and retorts on welcoming migrants, and Sarah – he told the right-wing French weekly Valeurs actuelles – points out: “The Church cannot collaborate with the new form of slavery that mass migration has become”. In 2020, when Bergoglio was preparing to publish an apostolic exhortation on the Amazon, and the conservative opposition feared he would include the “viri probati”, married priests, Cardinal Sarah published a book, “From the bottom of our heart “, with the participation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, for the strenuous defense of compulsory celibacy. Forehand and backhand, song and counterpoint.

Positions of a conservative Catholicism that Sarah shares, in Rome, with personalities such as the German cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müllerformer prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or the Australian George Pell, former “finance minister” of the Vatican, but who are also far from Italy, particularly in American traditionalist circles. Distances that Giorgia Meloni will have the opportunity to measure, or shorten, if, as a “lost sheep”, she will meet the shepherd Francesco.

Meloni meets Cardinal Sarah and looks for banks among the traditionalist prelates