Catholic conservatives in the U.S. are engaged in an attempt to spread their views among potentially sympathetic circles across Europe, assessing that the situation there is more critical than in America, said Blandine Chélini-Pont (University Aix-Marseille III) at the ISSR conference in Aix-en-Provence.
Chélini-Pont describes conservative Catholicism as the ideological source of today’s American conservatism. What its members oppose primarily is “statism,” to which they oppose an ideal of moral capitalism, seen as a return to authentic Catholic social doctrine. Described as “antimodern democrats,” they are opposed to public secularism, but do not support the idea of a confessional state either.According to Chélini-Pont’s observations, they are now attempting to propagate their ideas in Europe through conservative (or even sometimes Christian Democratic) circles: Europe thus becomes a missionary field.
In order to do so, bridges can be found in some aspects of the thought of John Paul II, such as the ideal of a Christian Europe and the rejection of a “culture of death.” Chélini-Pont paid special attention to two cases: those she describes as “Catholics first,” and “Burkeans” (named after Edmund Burke). As a representative of the first category, she cites the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington; regarding the second, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute is the most influential actor.
The “Catholics first” networks in Europe started from Poland and spread to Slovakia; there are also members in Italy, gravitating around the Tocqueville-Acton Center. The Burkeans bring together sympathetic groups in Europe through the Center for European Renewal, with study centers under different names in several European countries.