Lombardy is the region that in 2020 has shown the highest rate of institutional clericalism, according to the picture that emerges from the “Clericalata of the Week” section of the website of the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (Uaar), which collects the most clerical statements and acts made by representatives of institutions or public functions.
“The confessional initiatives in this region over the course of the past year have been countless“, comments Roberto Grendene, secretary of Uaar. “They range from those that have a more immediate effect on the pockets of taxpayers – such as the allocation by the regional council of 7 million euros for renovation work in parishes or 700 thousand euros for oratories – to those with a more symbolic flavor. Like the celebration by the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, of Carlo Acutis, a young Catholic who died of fulminant leukemia and was beatified for alleged posthumous miracles, which, in the words of the first citizen, ‘enriches the ranks of ‘normal’ saints who have enlivened the life of our faith in recent decades’. Also worthy of mention are all those times we’ve seen institutional representatives alongside those of the Catholic Church, such as the blessing imparted by Archbishop Mario Delpini during the inauguration of the new hospital set up at the Milan Fair for the coronavirus emergency, which was attended by the president of the region Fontana and the mayor Sala“.
“Lombardy (which had already won the title in 2016 and 2018), however, is only the tip of an iceberg“, Grendene points out: “The coronavirus pandemic seems in fact to have given way, throughout the country, to the worst institutional clericalisms, making an already rather gloomy picture even more worrying. There have been many occasions in which institutional representatives have invoked the intercession of saints in the fight against the virus, as well as exceptions for religious activities, up to the paradoxical episode involving the mayor of Diamante (in the province of Cosenza) who offered his services as the organizer of the Marian processions of August 12th and 15th, because “it is true that it is a priority to protect the health of everyone, but our souls too […] need to find rest and serenity in the merciful gaze of the Madonna”. The very Church itself, in an ironic turn-of-events, had a bishop remind the mayor that he should stick to his institutional guns and that national health protocols had to be enforced“.
“Some initiatives and statements are even hard to believe“, continues Grendene: “I am thinking for example of the mayor of Sulmona (in the province of L’Aquila) Annamaria Casini, who participated in the open air mass officiated by the bishop declaring on her official Facebook profile: “We couldn’t find a better way to celebrate Republic Day”; or the administration of Motta di Livenza (in the province of Treviso) that commissioned a mural on the facade of a public school with the Madonna watching over the city; or even the full council of ministers that participated in the survey “Saints and Politics” of the magazine San Francesco: all the ministers, including President Conte, said they entrusted themselves to one or more saints“.
“A special mention – Grendene concludes – deservedly goes the Secretary of the League Matteo Salvini, who thanks to an endless series of acts and statements has earned the title of “most clerical politician of the year” (not a surprise that in 2019 he won the survey on the worst clerical act of the year)“.