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The end of Catholics’ ‘grand narrative’?

The Economist’s Erasmus blog raised a topical question: “In the Europe of 2017, can there be such a thing as a Catholic political leader?”

After all, the blog pointed out, “Europe’s transnational institutions”, including what became the EU, “were deeply Catholic in inspiration. Devout statesmen such as Robert Schuman of France, Italy’s Alcide De Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer of Germany laid the groundwork for a new continental order … Politicians who had resisted fascism, in the name of their Catholic faith, were seen as well-placed to oppose the new menace of atheist communism, and the movement known as Christian Democracy took shape.”

Today, however, Catholicism is less likely to provide leaders with a “grand narrative”, a complete philosophy. François Fillon had challenged French assumptions by being open about his Catholicism, but he had had to say that he would not try to change abortion and gay marriage laws.

Similarly, “Spain’s centre-right prime minister Mariano Rajoy strongly contested his country’s gay marriage legislation when he was in opposition; but on taking power he said he would leave the matter to the judiciary.” Catholic politicians can no longer “let the faith fill their entire intellectual horizon. And if they did, it might be added, that wouldn’t be an electoral winner.”

Liturgy fit for kings – or for communities

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