The week before last, Pope Francis nominated a new archbishop in Italy, following what has now become a tradition of replacing courageous pastors of the Church with delegates of his so-called "pastoral revolution."
His Excellency Abp. Luigi Negri resigned as archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio when completing 75 years of age, after four years in the archdiocese, one of the last appointments of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
His substitute is the general director of Fondazione Migrantes (an organization established by the Italian Episcopal Conference to handle the pastoral care and evangelization of migrants), Abp. Giancarlo Perego, described by Catholic newspaper La Corrispondenza Romana as "the pasdaran of the silent invasion."
Archbishop Perego is a notorious advocate of practically unrestricted immigration. For years he's been publicly condemning how European governments deal with the recurring deaths in smuggling boats on Mediterranean migratory routes.
In April 2015, when the tragic deaths were not a result of hazardous conditions but an occasion of martyrdom for 12 Christians thrown in the sea by Muslim fellow travelers, Perego minimized the charges of "multiple homicide aggravated by religious hatred" pressed by the survivors, declaring that "we shouldn't focus on religious hatred."
In an interview with La Repubblica, he excused the murders as "a dramatic situation that resulted, above all, from desperation," a comment he reiterated on Vatican Radio when discussing the affair, focusing his criticism ofnNorthern Italy for not taking as many immigrants as it could.
More recently the newly appointed archbishop expressed his objections to the new government's security policy concerning immigration: "There's no need for security measures," he proclaimed. "These are measures that don't respond to the real demands of a territory that does not ask for more security, but for more options of integration."
A recent survey by the Demos Institute shows that 40 percent of Italians think the increase of immigrants puts their security at risk. Episodes of rape are a daily occurrence, and it's not hard to find areas of Italy where people complain that they no longer feel safe in land swarmed by North African and Middle Eastern immigrants.
The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, has declared that the Eternal City simply cannot accept anymore refugees. In 2016 Italy's expenses — from rescue and identification of immigrants to sheltering and language lessons — were more than 3.3 billion euros. This year the estimate is that those expenses will increase by 60 percent. For someone praised as a "pastor from the streets," a "priest who doesn't exclude anyone," Abp. Perego is largely out of touch with his flock.
Catholic and secular media outfits have claimed that the nomination of Perrego sends a clear message of rupture with the manner in which Negri guided the archdiocese of Ferrara. Cristiano Bendin, journalist for the local Ferrara section of newspaper Il Resto del Carlino, wrote an editorial titled "A Very Clear Message," where he stated that this "was an expected and predictable sign of discontinuity that aligns Ferrara's archdiocese with the positions of Pope Francis."
"Archbishop Negri was never loved by the city's Left," he continued, "and has always been targeted in ferocious attacks (many times personal ones) for being a righteous, coherent, courageous and brave defender of the Tradition of the Church. He resisted the easy temptations of approval, gave back a voice to Catholics and developed an important cultural work, other than also rectifying the finances of the diocese, and his legacy will be remembered."
A former student and lifelong friend of Bp. Luigi Giussani (founder of the lay Catholic movement Communion and Liberation), Negri received an archdiocese in an area riddled with at least seven satanic sects. From the eventual appearance of altars with sacrificed animals to the ever-growing number of fortunetellers and séances, occultists have shown such a preference for Ferrara that volunteers from the Italian Knights Templar would at times patrol consecrated places to ensure no profanation or theft of sacred objects.
Last January Negri once again had to celebrate a Mass of Reparation followed by a procession because consecrated Hosts had been stolen from one of the archdiocese's parishes and desecrated. When asked why anyone would be interested in stealing them, he replied that he was definitely thinking "of the worst possibilities," and that he had lost his peace entirely over the matter.
In November 2015, Negri was involved in a controversy created by progressive newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, which turned to someone who had allegedly overheard a private conversation between Negri and a friend on a train, where he was expressing his personal opinions regarding the Pope's behavior. There are no records of the conversation, and no one ever came forward to confirm the newspaper's claims — whose headline implied that Negri wished for the pope's death — something His Excellency never actually said.
On this occasion, Negri was overheard criticizing the Pope's choices for the archdioceses of Bologna and Palermo. Bologna saw the retirement of Cdl. Carlo Caffarra in 2015, one of the four cardinals who presented the dubia to the Holy Father, and the pastor chosen by Pope Francis for the Bologna See was Bp. Matteo Zuppi, who, like Perego, is also an enthusiast of immigration and receptive to the idea of constructing mosques in Italy and celebrating Islamic festivities in schools.
Bishop Corrado Lorefice, the appointee for Palermo, follows the same line, a typical "priest from the streets," the "priest-bishop," a "pastor for the poor and the forgotten," a successor of the Apostles who thought of a pertinent reason to ride a bike inside Palermo's Cathedral. One could argue that criticizing these bishops is a duty of charity.
Archbishop Negri's reaction to the press slander was firstly directed to his people: "Dear faithful, do not worry: If I have anything to say to the Pope, I'll say it in the ways and manners that have been granted to me as a successor of the Apostles, with loyalty to the Pontiff, and respect to Holy Doctrine."
Negri has always been known for his tough character, and he's never been afraid of making enemies. He has publicly denounced Freemasonry, confronted the LGBT lobby, painted the Arabic letter "nun" (the brand of shame sprayed by ISIS on Christian properties in Mosul) on the archdiocese's door, and condemned the excessive solicitude for migrants when Italians in poverty were being neglected.
And going against the carefully crafted narrative that traditional Catholic bishops are all "racist bigots," when the citizens of Goro and Gorino built a barricade to block the entrance of 12 female immigrants, one of whom was pregnant, Negri offered the archdiocese's help to the women, as he has to everyone rightfully entitled to refugee status, and sent to the care of several Church properties in Ferrara.
According to Vaticanista Sandro Magister, Perego was the candidate of Abp. Nunzio Galantino (secretary-general of the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Pope's point of reference in the Conference) and Giovanni Nicolini, former director of the bolognese Caritas and founder of Famiglie della Visitazione ("Families of Visitation"), a community inspired by Fr. Giuseppe Dossetti. Dossetti is one of the main figures behind the progressive theological school of thought on the Second Vatican Council known as the Bologna School, to which Nicolini himself is connected.