ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - A conference of eminent academics, politicians and writers celebrating the nationalist legacy of Pope St. John Paul II and targeting Pope Francis's globalist agenda has triggered a counterblast from the Holy See's head of state and Catholic and secular establishment media.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin blasted the Rome conference on "God, Honor, Country: President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and the Freedom of Nations" as "fundamentally infantile" — even though speakers like Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán emphasized the values of "Christian liberty" and Europe's Christian heritage and called upon Western nations to rally against the worldwide persecution of Christians.
Addressing a packed press briefing in Italian before the two-day conference, opening speaker Giorgia Meloni, president of Fratelli d'Italia told Church Militant's Rome correspondent that except for leaders like Orbán "nobody [in Europe] is speaking for persecuted Christians."
Even when a recent government commission reported on minorities to the Italian Parliament, "we asked them to specifically mention the persecution of Christians, and they voted against this proposal," she said last Monday.
"In Europe, we care about every minority, but people don't want to see the biggest persecution of all — the global persecution of Christians," lamented Meloni, who was flying the next day to attend President Trump's White House prayer breakfast.
"This is what I appreciate about Viktor Orbán. He has the courage to address the persecution of Christians and ask Europe to help Christians in the world. Because nobody will do this if Europe doesn't do it," the leader of Italy's only conservative party added.
In her after-dinner speech, closed to the media, Meloni identified "the main enemy today" as "the globalists" who "view identity in all its forms as an evil to be overcome and constantly ask to shift real power away from the people to supra-national entities headed by supposedly enlightened elites." She was alluding to Pope Francis' call for supra-national institutions when addressing the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in May 2019.
Today, "Pope John Paul II would be on the European Union's blacklist as a dangerous subversive" because of his patriotism, which "also enabled him to view current events in the light of Christian realism," Meloni added, noting that the Polish pontiff "never tired of repeating that there is no Europe without Christianity."
Rod Dreher, author of bestseller The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, warned the audience that the religion of social justice is "a utopian political cult" and signals the rise of a "pink police state." Political correctness in America is making it appear as if "the entire country is becoming a university campus," he noted.
Dreher identified today's revolutionary class as "not the German volk or the international proletariat, but the 'marginalized' and 'oppressed' — the sacred victim," and noted that "Western people will surrender political power to a state and to authorities who promise to protect their therapeutic desires — especially maximizing sexual freedom."
Dreher called upon conservatives to follow the example of Pope John Paul II by reclaiming and defending cultural memory, establishing solidarity by creating bonds among small groups, strengthening the Christian faith and embracing the value of suffering.
"This strikes at the heart of the pink police state and its therapeutic totalitarianism," he exclaimed.
Viktor Orbán, who caused a media stir at the conference, lauded Pope John Paul II as "the biggest defender of Central European countries on the world stage, whatever their religious background," even though the prime minister himself confessed to being a Calvinist.
Orbán explained how his "new approach" of "Christian democracy" had replaced "liberal freedom" in Hungary. "It is very unique, nobody likes it outside Hungary, the liberal press is always attacking us, making jokes of us, but it works," he said. "And the people vote for it again and again and again. This is my approach, and that's the reason why I believe in Christian democracy."
He explained how Christian democracy was based on "the universal Catholic approach" — "the only one which appreciates and accepts national sovereignty," adding: "That is the reason why in Hungary, where 75% are Catholic and 25% are Calvinists, we are able to cooperate for national sovereignty on a Christian-democratic basis."
French National Front leader Marion Maréchal told the audience that France, "considered for centuries as 'the eldest daughter of the Church,'" was now turned "into the backroom of Salafism" with "150 French districts in the hands of Islamists."
"Every day in France, Catholic churches and cemeteries are ransacked and the media remains indifferent," Maréchal lamented.
In the terrible fire of Notre-Dame Cathedral, "by a miracle, everything that was essential was saved: relics, statues of saints, stained glass windows," she remarked, seeing this as "a call: to rebuild this roof that protects us and this spire that connects us to Heaven." However, establishment media, academia and left-wing Church leaders are labelling the conference fascist, populist and anti-Semitic.
Stephen Schneck, politics professor at the Catholic University of America, told the leftist National Catholic Reporter the ideology being proposed throughout Europe "directly contradicts" the church's social teachings.
Massimo Faggioli, historian and theologian at Villanova University, tweeted: "I wonder how much electricity can be generated with John Paul II who turns in his grave seeing this nationalist cabal gathered and usurping [his] name."
While the editorial in the Spanish El Pais dismissed Orbán's "Christian democracy" as "illiberal democracy," French Catholic journal La Croix slammed the conference for its "very superficial use of Christianity" and for proclaiming "exactly the opposite of what Pope Francis advocates."
Parolin even used his pulpit while celebrating Mass in honor of the Sant'Egidio community at the papal archbasilica of Saint John the Lateran to attack the conference: "Rome means universality, fraternity, openness to others. No to nationalism and closure, which are reactions — fundamentally infantile — before the big global world, which seems invasive."
The Board of Deputies of British Jews went so far as to ask Britain's Conservative Party to discipline member of Parliament Daniel Kawczynski for speaking at the conference, which was "full of anti-Semites, racists, homophobes and Islamophobes."
Ironically, Prof. Yoram Hazony, chief organizer of the conference and the author of The Virtue of Nationalism, is an orthodox Jew. A number of supporters of the National Conservatism movement have been orthodox Jews, including the Herzl Institute — one of the sponsors of the conference.
Other speakers at the conference included historian Roberto de Mattei, Italian conservative Francesco Giubilei, and Douglas Murray, associate editor of Britain's Spectator.
In July, Church Militant's Rome Correspondent addressed the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C. on the nationalism of Pope John Paul II versus the globalism of Pope Francis.