Enrico Letta, 46 is Italy’s new premier (prime minister) after a bitter political stalemate in recent months. Tasked by the President, Giorgio Napolitano, 87, with forming a coalition out of bitter rivals, Letta is viewed as a bridge-builder between political parties. However, there is more to Letta than meets the eye. He is also tasked to see to it that Italy doesn’t slide into bankruptcy while keeping close ties to the Vatican.
Italy has been mired in the Eurozone’s economic crisis, and was most recently governed by Mario Monti, a technocrat politician who oversaw the austerity measures designed to keep Italy out of the hands of the “troika,” Europe’s body that oversees the financial rescue packages given to bankrupt nations. Keep in mind, that Italy is also the political, spiritual and geographical neighbor of the Vatican. The economic quagmire continues as public patience runs thin.
President Napolitano’s history is important to understand. He is a communist who was president of the Italian Communist Party in the 1960s for several years and also held various offices and roles in the party until it was dissolved in 1991. Napolitano is strongly in support of resurrecting the Holy Roman Empire in Europe. After all, it is a socialist project. When Napolitano’s name was put forward in 2006 as a candidate for President of the Italian Republic it was rejected by some political parties. But three days after the Vatican endorsed his candidacy, he was elected to the office. He is now in his second seven-year term as president, to which he reluctantly agreed because of the political instability. A close friend of the Catholic Church, Napolitano’s leadership strengthens the links between the Vatican and Italy.
Not only is Letta’s Democratic Party tied to the West’s largest Communist party, Letta also has close ties to the Vatican (Letta served as minister for European policy for Italy’s former premier Massimo D’Alema, an ex-Communist leader. “Letta comes from a moderate wing of the left-rooted Democratic Party that is close to the Vatican. Since Parliament always includes an array of lawmakers enjoying good ties to the politically influential Catholic Church in Italy, this was one more qualification on Letta’s bridge-building resume.”
“Meanwhile,” wrote the Associated Press, “rallying to the side of citizens feeling neglected by their political class were leaders of Italy’s politically influential Catholic Church.” Perhaps this will put pressure on Letta to bring his policies more in line with the Catholic social agenda.
Letta has a background in international law, and lived in Strasbourg, home of the European Parliament during his formative years. “Mr. Letta’s uncle is Gianni Letta, [former premier] Silvio Berlusconi’s right hand man, who is known for his keen political cunning and has worked as a behind the scenes negotiator for the former prime minister, keeping back channels open with the Vatican when Berlusconi was under fire from the Church for his Bunga Bunga parties.”
But Catholic influence in Italy’s politics is much deeper than merely its president and premier. Letta’s new cabinet has only one communist. The “majority is one way or another Catholic and so a throwback to the Christian Democrats,” said George Walston, Chair of International Relations and Global Politics at the American University of Rome. Could Italy’s political order now swing more conservative?
Enrico Letta understands the papal plan for Europe and will work in harmony with the Vatican and its goals in restoring the ancient regime. Rome and the Vatican are intertwined so closely that they fulfill the Bible description of the church sitting on the city of seven hills, as Rome is often called.
“And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” Revelation 17:9