Catholic World News

Leading Italian cardinal speaks frankly on Europe's decline, Syria's danger, Curial reform

June 17, 2013

Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan spoke about the decline of Europe, the dangers associating with efforts to export democracy, and the need for reform of the Roman Curia, in a revealing interview with Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa.

Cardinal Scola—who was widely regarded as the leading papabile entering the March conclave— expressed serious concerns about Western intervention on behalf of Syrian rebels. “Bishops in the Middle East are against armed intervention and believe that we Westerners have not been correctly informed about the so-called rebels, many of whom belong to fundamentalist groups,” he said. While he acknowledged serious injustices under the current Syrian regime, and other autocratic governments in the region, he cautioned against a military action and Western attempts to dictate a solution. “’Exporting democracy’ is an unrealistic choice,” he said.

Speaking about European culture, the Italian prelate was candid. “We don’t like to admit it,” he observed, “but Europe is facing a decline.” Both the society at large and the churches in Europe are “tired and old,” he said.

Cardinal Scola remarked that Pope Francis has brought an important new perspective on the problems of the Church in Europe, particularly with his warnings against a “self-referential” Church. “We really are too self-referential on all levels,” the cardinal said. “We are busy with so many initiatives btu we are not always able to be true witnesses.”

Cardinal Scola confirmed that the Pope’s decision to appoint 8 cardinals as a special advisory panel was a response to concerns that had been raised by many cardinals in the days leading up to the conclave. “In the pre-conclave discussions,” he reported, “we decided– without wishing to undermine the Pope’s primacy – that it would be opportune for the new Pope to find new ways of leading the Church.”

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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jun. 17, 2013 4:44 PM ET USA

    The cardinal's assessment of the West's dalliance with intervention on the side of jihadists in Syria is overly generous. The idea of intervening is not simply wrong and counterproductive, it is outright lunacy. These are our enemies, something that seems to escape the likes of Obama and Clinton but that ought to be recognized easily by those who can see the trail of destruction we have already left in the Middle East.