Seventy-five years ago today, in a dubious referendum probably rigged by the Americans, an alleged majority of Italians voted to abolish the 85-year-old Italian monarchy (though the House of Savoy was nearly a thousand years old). King Umberto II (1904-1983), a good and patriotic man who had never supported fascism, nevertheless paid the price for his father’s association with it and had to spend the rest of his life in exile, his reign officially ending ten days later after only a month. The Italian Republic, which has never exactly been a model of stable or competent governance, in its arrogance dares to celebrate today as a “holiday,” even though at the time it was a sad result for many Italians who had remained loyal to the dynasty despite the hardships of the war. It is not a holiday for me. Viva il Re!
I mean no offense to my many Roman Catholic friends, some of whom agree with me, but as we contemplate the 75th anniversary of the accursed Italian referendum (on which Pope Pius XII for some reason remained silent, at a time when the Church still had rather more influence in Italy than it does today) I am deeply frustrated by the Church's modern habit of neutrality on Monarchy versus Republic, which to me is the most important issue of modern times. Maybe I want Christianity to be something other than what it actually is. Maybe I'm frankly a bit of a heretic guilty of trying to elevate my personal preferences to doctrine. (I shudder to think what would happen to my relationship with Anglicanism if the unthinkable ever happened in England. Let's not go there.) But I cannot accept Neutrality on this issue. I believe that replacing a Monarchy with a Republic is intrinsically morally wrong, much worse than most of the things that many religious people complain about today, and I want the Church to say so. It is the replacement of tradition with novelty, of beauty with banality, of humility with arrogance, of duty with willfulness, of inheritance with ideology, of what is natural with what is artificial. I cannot take seriously the moral complaints of "conservatives" who accept what I believe to be the catastrophic and evil modern worldwide trend of replacing monarchies with republics. It must be reversed. If that's not possible, then I see no point in politics. What I absolutely reject is any "conservative" or "Christian" approach to contemporary Europe that willingly consigns its Monarchies to history.