One of Europe’s foremost Catholic political thinkers has called for a new generation of politicians to defend and promote orthodox Christian ideals.
“We need people with conscience in politics,” said Rocco Buttiglione, the vice-president of the Italian Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies to CNA.
“And, I think the great reservoir of values today is in the Christian people and we must tell them, you must make politics, you must enter into politics, you must make with your hands the future of the land.”
Buttiglione made political headlines around the world in 2004 when his nomination as Italy’s representative to the European Union’s commission was blocked due to his Catholic beliefs on such issues as homosexuality. It is an episode that doesn’t seem to have embittered his view of political life.
“Good things have a high price, but they are worth it, of course. If you want to be Catholic in politics, sometimes you have to make sacrifices and value your conscience more than your position, more than your seat in politics. But, would you trust a man that put his political career higher than his conscience?”
Already several young Catholic politicians in Italy are responding to the challenge laid down by Buttiglione and others.
“Politics must be done by heroes,” said Simone Budini, the 24-year-old co-founder of a new Italian political party, Giovani Liberi e Forti (Young, Free and Strong). The new party is based on Catholic social principles.
“Heroes are men who are in politics because they love their city and they are ready to give their lives for their city. And, nowadays, we have the opposite example.
We've got people who are ready to sell their city to have pleasure for their lives.”
As well as being a frontline politician, Rocco Buttiglione is also a renowned academic. In fact, he is a professor of political science at Saint Pius V University in Rome as well as a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. And it is from this standpoint that he observes worrying historical parallels for contemporary politics.
“I think that we very often forget that democracy is a very delicate creature,” he stated pointing toward the first flourishing of democracy in ancient Greece which collapsed after 171 years.
“And, what is the reason that Greek democracy died? Because of moral relativism, corruption,” he said adding that the moral relativists of today are, in fact, the intellectual descendents of the sophists of ancient Greece.
“Western democracies run the danger of dying because political activity is not based on principals.”
Despite the dire predictions, the 63-year-old academic and politician is not without hope for the future. The key to success, he said, lies with a five-letter word – truth.
“We must bring truth to politics again. We must be able to tell the truth to the people. Very often politicians don't tell the truth. Very often politicians tell the people what they want to hear. And, what the people very often want to hear is not the truth.”