In a 17th century palazzo in the Italian city of love, an international alliance of far-right politicians, conservative activists and religious leaders have united in hate.
Over the past few years, the World Congress of Families, whose mission is to “defend the natural family,” was held in former Soviet states. This weekend, the conference’s 13th edition found a home in Verona, endorsed by the regional authority and Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant and xenophobic League party.
While Verona might be best known as the setting of the Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the picturesque northern city of just over 250,000 people has a long history connected to fascist and far-right groups. It was home to one of the headquarters of German Intelligence during the Nazi occupation and in the 1970s, a far-right terrorist network.
Today neo-fascist groups such as Casa Pound and Forza Nuova, whose leader held a press conference outside the venue on Saturday, have their headquarters in the city’s center. And most recently, Verona has become a flashpoint of far-right activity and a launching pad for some of the country’s most well-known — and controversial — politicians and ideas.
In October, Verona’s mayor Federico Sboarina declared the city “pro-life” after the town council passed a motion that would use public funds to finance anti-abortion programs, inspiring politicians in a few other cities, including Milan, Rome, Ferrara, Trieste and Sestri Levante to propose similar motions, although they did not pass.
This is not journalism.
This is brazen propaganda and brainwashing.
In a few short paragraphs, everything that is encompassed in a traditional Christian lifestyle regarding marriage, sanctity of life (which means love for life), and raising children was relegated by CNN writers Kara Fox, Valentina di Donato, Joseph Ataman and Muhammad Darwish to be considered the latest incarnation of Naziism, even blaming the city of Verona itself as a haven of “far right and fascist groups.” So, it is not only the pro-lifers themselves, but these people even picked an historically fascist city to meet!!
So goes the narrative of the increasingly and utterly insane European and American globalist neoliberal elite in their feverish determination to marginalize and eliminate the Christian faith. Most particularly this is intended at attacking Christians, especially Orthodox ones. The Roman Catholic Church was hardly mentioned in this newspiece.
The reason for that is simple: Pope Francis’ tendency towards ambiguous dialogue on the issues of marriage and family life has rendered the Roman Catholic Church rudderless, at least to the liberal press (notice that Rome did not embrace the pro-life legislation, even as the Vatican lies in its very center). However, as the reader may notice in our banner photograph, the Roman Catholic faithful are still very much on board with supporting the family.
This is extraordinary, because, after all, Italy is the nation surrounding the spiritual center of Roman Catholicism, and yet, in this “newspiece”, nary a word about them.
However, the Russian Orthodox Church figures rather prominently in the newspiece. So, we propose to offer something a little different.
We will take selected paragraphs from this news piece and reproduce them in a manner that shows how positive this pro-family work actually is. We will not report the Sorosian connection that the CNN people are upholding as the lamppost of real progress, because, for those who believe in Christ, it is not so at all.
We hope to use this very bad newspiece to spread some good news. In that respect, we would like to gratefully acknowledge the writers of the original CNN piece for actually including some very significant information. When one removes the vitriol, we actually have what amounts to very good news for Christian believers in Europe (emphasis added):
Speaking to CNN from his office just steps away from the conference, Sboarina called Verona an “open city” where “everyone has the right to speak their minds.”
And Salvini, the conference’s keynote speaker, has never shied away from doing just that.
Inside the Gran Guardia Palace on Saturday, Salvini addressed several hundred attendees with a speech that spanned topics from population decline to illegal immigration and a critique of feminism.
“The feminists that speak of women’s rights and are the first to pretend to not see what is the first, only and major, real danger in 2019 for rights, social achievements, freedom to work, study, speak, study, dress as you like — and it’s not the World Family Congress — it’s Islamic extremism, a culture where the woman’s value is less than zero,” he said. “The woman gets covered with a burka, the woman [isn’t allowed] to leave the house, the woman shouldn’t wear a mini-skirt, and if she dresses too western, thinks too western or becomes too western, (they) beat her up. Not from the dangerous extremists of the Family Congress,” he added.
Those speakers included Lorenzo Fontana, Italy’s minister for family and disability, who has said that same-sex marriage, gender fluidity, and mass immigration were helping to “wipe out our community and our traditions.”
Also in attendance was the Russian Orthodox Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov, who has said that Muslims will prevail over Christians, “because they don’t want to live in a state ruled by homosexuals,” and Babette Francis, the president of the Australian Endeavour Forum, an organization, which supports gay “conversion therapy,” and perpetuates a debunked [really? – Ed.] theory that abortion is linked to breast cancer.
While the WCF and many of its speakers are no stranger to controversy, whatever public pushback they’ve experienced during the conference has only strengthened the resolve of the group in their defense of the ideas of the “natural family” and the freedom of speech.
On Friday, Italian journalist and WCF speaker Maria Giovanna Maglie railed against the “tyranny of the politically correct approach.”
“Long live liberty,” she said to a swell of applause inside the conference. Much of the narrative throughout the weekend focused on the “beauty” of the “natural family,” defined by the group as one that exists as a heterosexual marriage bearing children.
“This universal truth of the beauty of the family is what binds us together,” Brian Brown, the conference’s president said in the conference’s opening address. “We are here today to defend, promote, protect and lift up something so basic, true and beautiful — the family — a man, a woman, a child,” he said.
The WCF has become a breeding ground for more ambitious changes to human rights protection laws, he explained, noting that themes discussed at past forums have led to attempts by WCF supporters to advance their agenda inside the EU and the UN. They usually don’t make it that far, however, instead allying themselves with countries already entrenched in a pro-family political agenda, such as Hungary, Poland and Russia.
“People get together, then exchange different ideas…then you see these ideas appearing on a national level over the next few years,” Datta said, noting a few examples from recent WCF gatherings. After a 2013 WCF meeting in Australia, Spain, Macedonia and Poland saw successive waves of attempts to restrict abortion rights, followed by different attempts to restrict LGBTQ rights, demonstrated through the constitutional referendums on the definition of marriage (as between a man and a woman) in Croatia, later followed by Romania. During the most recent Congress in Moldova in 2018, conversations focused on supporting homeschooling and gender ideology.
This year’s theme, “The Wind of Change: Europe and the Global Pro-Family Movement” spells out those ambitions to make legal changes inside national and global institutions. Experts say it’s an indication that the pro-family community is strategizing on how it can influence legislation inside the EU after the European parliamentary elections that take place between May 23 and 26.
But inside the Verona mayor’s office, decorated with pictures of Pope Francis, an ultrasound scan of his soon-to-be born daughter, and a wooden cut-out of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sboarina added that that he was frustrated to hear the WCF was being politicized. Sboarina said that the conference has “no political relevance…no electoral relevance” and that “politics should be out of this.”
On Friday, WCF Verona chairman Antonio Brandi “extended an invitation to all politicians and all who are present here to make the protection of the natural family their first unique priority.”
“We will win in the next European elections — the pro-family will be the majority in the European parliament,” said League member Claudio D’Amico.
Europe’s nationalist and far-right political parties have seen a widespread resurgence on family-driven platforms, with Italy, under Salvini’s far-right League party, finding fertile ground with those initiatives.In last year’s Italian parliamentary election, the League boosted their seats from 22 to 128. Now, it governs Europe’s fourth largest economy in a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement party.
Once seen as a fringe party, Salvini’s league now enjoys the support of one in three Italians.
In October, Verona re-branded itself as a “pro-life” city and announced it would host the WCF, Salvini saying, “This is the Europe that we like.”
“What Salvini — and not only Salvini, but also others — have been skillful in doing is that they basically say ‘the EU is imposing legislation on us that we don’t like, through things like the anti-discrimination directive or the European Courts of Human Rights that protects minorities.” It’s really about that; it’s about legal sovereignty, not wanting interference, Stöckl said.
A global network
But it’s not just European far-right leaders that are forging that agenda.
WCF president Brian Brown’s US-based International Organization for the Family organizes the WCF every year. Brown also heads the National Organization for Marriage, once a powerful force in funding pushes for same-sex marriage bans in the United States.
Interference — or influence — from US Christian right groups and Russian oligarchs have also fueled support for groups like the WCF, which have links to the far-right. And it’s not just US money that is a part of this equation.
WCF’s roots were first planted in Russia following a meeting between American academic Allan Carlson and Russian intellectuals Anatoly Antonov and Viktor Medkov. Since then, those WCF and Russian connections have further [strengthened]. Russian WCF representative Alexey Komov brings Russian Orthodox oligarchs, including members of billionaire Konstantin Malofeev’s charity St. Basil the Great, to the conference annually.
Malofeev, the head of Russia’s biggest Orthodox charity, St. Basil the Great, was slapped with sanctions by the EU and the US for his alleged involvement in funding separatists in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. In July 2014, after Ukraine opened an investigation into Malofeev’s financing of “illegal armed groups” and called him a “sponsor of terrorists,” he dismissed the investigation as “ridiculous,” according to the FT.
Those sanctions have stopped Malofeev’s physical presence at the WCF, but representatives from his charity were a visible presence throughout, speaking on “healthy families.” The themes in those workshops could find a home in parties contesting May’s European elections.
However, CNN once again revealed its purpose as a home base of anti-Christian rhetoric and propaganda. Calling Christians and pro-family people “ignorant” further adds to the portrayal of them as the ultimate in backwards, evil, hateful living, when nothing like this is true at all.
Further, CNN tried to implicate the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church as agencies of evil. To be sure, for the CNN reporters who wrote this, they probably are “evil” in that the Christian faith they represent does not support the sex-with-whatever-and-whoever-you-want lifestyle.
We have said many times here on The Duran that the goal of the Sorosian and other liberal globalists is to defeat Christianity. The information shown here is a window into how true that claim actually is.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.