- Mar 6, 2021
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte got a badly needed favor Tuesday morning, as the pontiff essentially hit the off switch on mounting Catholic resistance to the PM’s program for recovery by calling for “prudence and obedience.”
The Italian bishops have appeared to threaten that if they don’t get a satisfactory response from the government on a date for restarting public Masses, they may be prepared to assert the authority afforded under religious freedom provisions of the Italian constitution and act on their own.
On Monday the Italian bishops criticized the government’s omission of a date to restart public Masses in its new week-by-week plan for the return to normal life after the coronavirus, threatening to act autonomously.
Pope Francis, despite being the first non-European pontiff since the eighth century, is perhaps the most vocal leader on the Old Continent today making a principled defense of the European Union.
Now that Italy has begun to relax some of its restrictions, allowing bookstores, stationary shops and stories for babies and children to reopen today, there are signs the compact between church and state over church closures may be fraying.
A robust 68 percent of Italians said they support the suspension of public Masses to fight the transmission of the coronavirus, with only 23 percent opposed and 9 percent offering no opinion.
Despite a news blackout, it’s not difficult to guess what was on the agenda for Monday’s conversation between Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and it can be summarized in two words: “Now” and “then.”
“We’re preoccupied for our own things, and we forget the children who are hungry, we forget the poor people at the borders who are seeking freedom, these forced migrants fleeing hunger and war who find only walls – walls made of iron, of barbed wire, but walls that don’t let them pass,” Pope Francis said.