Italian intellectuals: moral and spiritual crisis prevents Europe from reacting to Islamic terrorism

A significant number of Italian lawmakers, politicians and intellectuals, led by the president of the Italian Senate, Marcello Pera and including such individuals as Italy’s  Culture Minister, Rocco Buttiglione, has presented a manifesto in which they attribute the confusion and fear in Europe over Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism to “a moral and spiritual crisis” that prevents the continent from finding “the courage to react.”

The manifesto, endorsed by more than 70 different leaders in government, trade unions and universities, states that the west is “under attack from the outside by Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism” and is “incapable of responding to the challenge.”  “We feel guilty for our well-being, we are ashamed of our traditions, and we think terrorism is a reaction to our mistakes.  But terrorism is a direct attack on our civilization and on the whole of humanity,” the document argues.

“Europe is sick,” it continues.  “The birth rate continues to fall, as well as [Europe’s] competitiveness, unity and action on the world scene.  It hides and denies its own identity and thus fails to provide itself a legitimate constitution of its citizens.  It determines relations with the United States are broken and makes anti-Americanism its flag.”

The statement echoes the words of Pope Benedict XVI that today, the “West no longer loves itself,” and that to overcome this crisis “more determination and more courage regarding the issue of our civilization” are needed.

Western civilization, it notes, has been the “source of universal and undeniable principles, contrasting, in the name of a common historical and cultural tradition, the temptation today to build an alternative Europe set against the United States.”

The document also argues for better integration of immigrants and defends the right to life “from conception to natural death.”  The family, it underscores, is the natural foundation of society, and marriage “must be protected and differentiated from any other type of union or bond.”

The signers acknowledge the distinction between Church and State, “without giving in to the secular temptation to relegate the religious dimension to solely the private sphere.” 

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