ROME — A significant number of conservative Catholics from around the world have traveled to Rome this week for a two-day meeting in opposition to a “global, one-world order.”
Meeting at the prestigious Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a group of prominent prelates and lay leaders got together on Thursday for the annual Rome Life Forum, which takes place just prior to Italy’s yearly March for Life through the streets of the Eternal City.
Among the speakers are Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych, the current theologian of the papal household; Cardinal Willem Eijk, the archbishop of Utrecht; Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former head of the Vatican’s highest court; Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Cardinal Janis Pujats, archbishop emeritus of Riga (Latvia), as well as pro-life and pro-family leaders from a number of countries.
Burke and Brandmüller are the last two surviving “dubia” cardinals of an original four, who formally presented Pope Francis with five questions regarding Catholic teaching following the publication of his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”).
The text of the pope’s letter contained perceived ambiguities regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced Catholics who had remarried civilly. Francis elected not to respond to the cardinals, leading his critics to propose that the pope prefers ambiguity to clear teaching.
On Thursday, Burke will address the assembly on the topic of “filial piety and national patriotism as essential virtues of citizens of heaven at work on earth.”
Pope Francis has been a sharp critic of rising nationalist and populist movements, denouncing earlier this month a trend toward nationalism that entails “excessive demands for sovereignty.”
“The common good has become global and nations must associate,” the pope told members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who gathered for their annual meeting entitled “Nation, State, Nation-State.”
“Unfortunately, we have before our eyes situations in which some nation states carry out their relations in a spirit of opposition rather than cooperation,” the pontiff said. Many tensions come “from an excessive demand for sovereignty on the part of States, often precisely in areas where they are no longer able to act effectively to protect the common good.”
In the current era of globalization, “the nation state is no longer able to procure the common good of its populations alone. The common good has become global and nations must associate for their own benefit,” the pope said.
While urging international cooperation, the Church has often underscored the importance of nations for people’s identity, culture, and security.
Pope Pius XII wrote in 1939 that it is legitimate for nations to treat their differences “as a sacred inheritance and guard them at all costs.”
For his part, Pope John Paul II wrote in his final book, Memory and Identity: “The term ‘nation’ designates a community based in a given territory and distinguished by its culture. Catholic social doctrine holds that the family and the nation are both natural societies, not the product of mere convention.”
“Therefore, in human history they cannot be replaced by anything else,” he concluded.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome