Last weekend, after six days of tense voting and the failure of coalition parties to produce a compromise candidate to serve as president, 80-year-old Sergio Mattarella agreed to a second term as Italian President. Negotiations between the parties had been complex and frequently acrimonious, as Hélène de Lauzun reported for this magazine earlier this month. With the breakdown of discussions, Mattarella—who had previously expressed his desire to retire—agreed to remain in office for the stability of Italy.
One of the lesser-known presidential candidates, however, had been pro-life and pro-family Italian leader Dr. Massimo Gandolfini, who had decided to put his name forward at the urging of social conservatives. Gandolfini is a brain surgeon who hails from Brescia in the north. His wife is also a physician. Gandolfini also serves as leader of Italy’s largest pro-life group, Associazione Family Day.
In this exclusive interview with The European Conservative, Gandolfini answers several questions about his candidacy for president, which he hopes will trigger an ongoing discussion about life and family issues, which are so often ignored.
Although current presidential negotiations have concluded, we hope the values he sought to emphasise during the campaign are increasingly discussed by other leaders—and eventually better reflected in Italian politics.
Why are you running for president?
My candidacy was spontaneously suggested by a large part of the Roman Catholic pro-life world, in order to draw the attention to the founding values of Italian society and the Italian Constitution. My nomination represents an invitation to voters to look into and understand what my name embodies and stands for.
What would you hope to accomplish for the pro-life and pro-family causes if you become president?
In the next presidential election, the interests of each party will take precedence, and, unfortunately, values and principles will play little role, if any. Therefore, in the very unlikely event that I would be elected, I would exclusively work for the real good of my Country. In practice, here’s what this means: greater support towards culture, economy, welfare, work, the family—together, the real driving forces of our society; greater attention and defense of the rights of weaker people and, in particular, of the disabled; promotion of the right to life, from conception to natural death; reform of the job market, with special attention to women’s jobs in order to make motherhood compatible with work (as provided for by our Constitution); and a concrete and firm opposition to all new forms of ‘slavery’, including prostitution, drugs, pornography, pedophilia and, above all, at the level of schools and the education system, the gender ideology.
What is the source of your pro-life convictions?
My choice of sides in defense of life and family dates back to 1978, the year the Italian law legalizing abortion was approved. I had graduated as a physician and surgeon the year before and, immediately, I decided to conscientiously object to this nefarious law. I began to actively involve myself at the cultural, social, and political level to halt the extermination of innocent babies.
Do you believe Italians are in agreement with the current ‘progressive’ LGBT and pro-abortion agenda?
In my opinion, the Italian people are enduring a highly confused historical moment: they are witnessing the gradual destruction of the values and principles upon which our civilization has been established, while ‘new’ principles are being advanced, which are called ‘civil rights’ and which range from abortion to euthanasia, and from surrogacy to the legalization of drugs. While our Constitution acknowledges and defends the family as a “natural society based on marriage,” today, the pretense of the LGBTQI lobby to equalize same-sex unions with natural families is more intense, resulting in the legitimating of surrogacy and adoptions by same-sex couples. I believe that most Italians absolutely disagree with this, but feel a resignation that, in fact, has opened the door to these destructive choices.
How does your background qualify you for this position?
I think that my own background, my biography, also explains why I was nominated to run for president. I am a believing and practicing Roman Catholic and have been walking a serious path of faith for many years. I have been married for 44 years (with the same wife!), and together we’ve adopted seven children, three from South America and four from Italy. Two of these, who have serious illnesses, taught us that sharing one’s suffering is the main road to love, God, and man. Moreover, I am a brain surgeon, and therefore I have had thousands of opportunities to get acquainted with the world of the sick and of those in pain. And this is anything but of secondary importance.
What key books and which intellectuals have influenced you?
My ‘North Star’ is certainly the Christian and Catholic culture, with the huge cultural output that it has produced. A book that particularly excited me is Integral Humanism by Jacques Maritain. Today, I frequently re-read two Church encyclicals that I find very enlightening for my social and political action: “Veritatis splendor” and “Fides et ratio,” by Pope John Paul II.
Jonathon Van Maren has written for First Things, National Review, The American Conservative, and is a contributing editor to The European Conservative. His latest book is Prairie Lion: The Life & Times of Ted Byfield.