A letter to the editor of Corriere della Sera:
On several occasions, your newspaper has covered the role of Catholicism in politics and the development of the so-called Todi 2. An article published in your newspaper yesterday (September 4th) highlighted the relationship between this movement and the "Grande Centro" (literally the "Main Center"), whose formation involved Italia Futura, Fermare il Declino, representatives of Confindustria and members of the industrial sector. This topic has already been discussed in previous articles published in your newspaper on August 15th and 17th, respectively, by Boldrin, Calenda, Giannino, Romano, Rossi and Zingales and by "liberal-democrats" Albertini and Valditara. Specifically, the first article quietly and constructively invited the rising "Cosa di Centro" (thing that stays in the middle) to represent the moderate view point, but to also become an important popular alliance in uniting thousands of electors who believe in values such as labor and freedom, merit and professional competence, international broadmindedness and in European unification. Therefore, after having been urged to intervene in the debate by some friends who have signed the aforesaid manifestos, we send you the present observations.
The writers, for a long time, have been wishing that "Cosa di Centro" could be the political party of the Catholic pro-market resembling Fr. Luigi Sturzo's values-a party Italy has a desperate need for in order to go beyond the current political season. The rise of a new "Partito Popolare" (Popular Party), rising as the heir of liberalism and inspired by Catholicism will serve to aggregate people who believe it is necessary to start a new reformatory season that allows for the abandonment of the current corporative and state-controlled system that is curbing the economic and social development of our country. If the so-called seculars would join this new party founded on pro market and solidarity ideas close to Don Luigi Sturzo's principles, we would be glad to argue about them together. So, we are not calling for something simply moderate, but an ambitious project able to contribute to the renewal of our economic system, to the redefinition of the economic and social role of the State and, after all, to offer a consistent and farsighted vision of the role we desire Italy to play in the world.
During this complicated political period, we believe that Catholic realities -values expressed by the Catholic Social Doctrine - have to play the unifying role in moving Italy forward, a role such values already played post WWII in allowing Italy to become free. Although this project started some time ago, we believe what has already been done is not enough. Actually, we think the formation of a new political alliance between Catholics and pro market ideologists has to involve associations and organizations which have already shown their commitment to Italy's progression (where would our country be today without "Caritas" and other voluntary catholic organizations?). We believe we have useful ideas for the increased welfare of this country and we intend to offer them through political commitment.
Historically, intellectuals focused on Tocqueville-Acton Centre Studies have proposed several policy reforms, which can be synthesized into three basic ideas: 1) reforming the public services funding system (in favor of a voucher system); 2) the abandonment of policies intended to hinder competitive firms in the global market and the advancement of policies focused on the promotion of competition and liberalization of wide economic sectors; 3) revisiting the role of the State in the economy, through the creation of a judicial-institutional body establishing and supervising the observance of rules. Everything, passing through a new public-private contract, concerning the reorganization of a public administration from a subsidiary viewpoint and the relation taxpayers-revenue, in order to reduce the pressure of taxation and improve a serried fight against tax evasion.
These proposals are consistent with both pro market ideologies and the anthropological vision expressed by the Catholic Social Doctrine. Such proposals will strengthen the conviction of those who believe the time is ripe to build an important popular force, through solidarity and pro market beliefs, therefore assembling the best strengths of this country in order to radically change it.
Our present condition has clearly demonstrated the Catholic's Diaspora in different political alliances - notwithstanding their better intentions - has brought them to be servile, present everywhere and ineffective on all sides. The family rate has not been obtained, no one talks about school vouchers, the most inauspicious electoral law in the world has been swallowed, and the Sicily Channel has been transformed into a common grave for desperate people looking for help.
Without an Italian Catholic political alliance, Catholics will continue to be, at best, completely marginalized or, at worst, party to the worst misdeeds.
Flavio Felice is an adjunct fellow of the American Enterprise Institute