ROME – Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is defending his invocation of God at a political rally, after Italy's Catholic establishment criticized it as a cynical exploitation of faith ahead of European Parliament elections this weekend.
Salvini brandished a rosary and entrusted Italy to the Virgin Mary at the Saturday rally, which featured a host of far-right European leaders. He spoke glowingly of St. John Paul II and retired Pope Benedict XVI for having tried to remind Europe of its Christian roots.
The Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said God was for everyone and "invoking him for yourself is always very dangerous."
An Italian Jesuit close to Pope Francis, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, denounced the use of the rosary at a political rally and invocation of God for political campaigning.