The Vatican’s official newspaper endorsed Italy’s outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti to continue to lead the country, praising his announcement that he may return to the role of prime minister after elections in February. Because of the Catholic Church’s great political power in Italy, L’Osservatore’s endorsement strongly indicates that Monti will run the country for a second term after the parliamentary elections on February 24 and 25.
Last Sunday (December 23), Monti said he would not endorse any political party. But “I would be ready to give my advice, my encouragement and if necessary leadership,” he said.
“I would also be ready to assume one day, if required by circumstances, the responsibilities that would be entrusted to me by the parliament.”
Mario Monti has never stood for election. He was appointed senator for life in 2011 by Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano. This position means that he can become prime minister, if approved by parliament, without being voted in by the people.
Monti’s speech on Sunday was “an appeal to recover the higher and more noble sense of politics that is … to take care of the common good,” L’Osservatore Romano wrote, December 27.
“It is a call for politics on an elevated level,” the paper wrote.
Even the pope himself seemed to give tacit support for Monti during his Christmas message. He told Italians to think about “a hierarchy of values when making the most important of choices.” The bbc wrote that “The remark was widely interpreted as coming close to endorsing the technocrat leader.”
The Trumpet showed in 2008 how then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gained his power because of the support of the Vatican. He fell after he lost that support, with L’Osservatore Romano publicly criticizing him.
Now Monti is the favorite. Even the mainstream media sees this. “Italy remains overwhelmingly Catholic, and the church has always played a role in domestic politics,” Reuters said. “During most of the 19 years that Berlusconi led the center right he enjoyed the backing of the church hierarchy.”
“The church began distancing itself from the 76-year-old Berlusconi before he resigned, after a sex scandal involving an underage prostitute and details of so-called ‘bunga-bunga’ parties in his Milan villa emerged,” continued Reuters.
The bbc noted this on December 27:
In the past, the Vatican has supported Mr. Berlusconi, who gave preferential treatment to Catholic schools, says the bbc’s David Willey in Rome. It has now changed sides, clearly indicating a preference for a democratically elected Monti administration, our correspondent says.
This shows the power the Catholic Church wields not just in Italy, but in the whole of the EU. Italy is a major player in the euro crisis. Its next leader will play a huge role in shaping that crisis. Spain has received a (sort of) bailout. What happens in Italy will determine whether the euro falls apart, who is forced to leave, and what the conditions of membership will be. Watch closely for the Vatican’s continued influence on the future of the euro and all of Europe. ▪