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Europe: card. Bassetti, “going to the polls”. “Populist and nationalist winds are blowing”: “As Italians, we should be the best face of Europe”

“We ask everybody to overcome their doubts and mistrust and to go to the polls. We are aware that this is just the first step, but it is a step that we cannot forsake”. This is the call that, in the run-up to next Sunday’s election, ended the opening speech of card. Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve and president of CEI, the Italian Bishops’ Conference, at the General Assembly of the Italian Bishops taking place in the Vatican until 23rd May. “It’s true that nowadays Europe is felt as distant and self-referential, to such an extent that people speak of a ‘breakup of the EU family’, on which populist and nationalist winds are blowing”, argued the cardinal, who lingered on the future of the European Union. “However, let me say – may be as a sort of challenge – that the main problem is not Europe, it is Italy, in our struggle to experience the nation as a political community”, this was the opinion of Bassetti, who wondered: “As Italians, what do we have left to offer, nowadays? I’m thinking of our virtues, first and foremost that of being accepting; I’m thinking of an outstanding educational tradition, an unequalled spirit of compassion; I’m thinking of the historical, cultural and religious wealth we have inherited”. “Mind, though: you can’t live on memories, on references to traditions and religious symbols or on outward forms of behaviour!”, he warned. “Ours is a heritage that needs to be revived, not least to enable us to bring more Italy into Europe. We must be Italian through and through – firm, generous, supportive, respectful of the rules – so that Europe may be a little more Italian too. We must be proud – and I’m not boasting here – of a Christianity that has shaped the Continent by giving it its spirituality and culture, its art and social doctrine. Its factual humanism”. “As Italians, we should be the best face of Europe to make our young people, our emigrants and those who land on our coasts prouder, because we are their first port of call”, this was his last appeal, before his invitation to go to the polls.


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