Rorate Caeli

De Mattei: The Red Terrorist Cesare Battisti and his protectors

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
March 27, 2019

The “red” terrorist, Cesare Battisti, interrogated in Oristano prison by the Public Minister of Milan, Alberto Nobili, has “admitted all the charges, namely, the four murders, two of which he was the perpetrator.” This was announced by the Public Prosecutor of Milan, Francesco Greco at a press conference. Four of these crimes were materially committed by Battisti: the murder of the Penitentiary Police Marshall, Antonio Santoro, on June 6 1978 because “he persecuted the political prisoners”; the murders of the jeweler Pierluigi Torregiani and a shop-owner, Lino Sabbadin, who was militant in the Italian Social Movement, both killed on February 16, 1979, the former in Milan and the latter in Mestre “because they had armed themselves against robbers, so they were militia on the side of the State and consequently had to be punished.”
Finally, the murder of DIGOS (Special Branch of the Police) agent Andrea Campagna, whom Battisti shot on April 19, 1978 in Milan. The exponent of the Armed Proletariat for Communism (PAC) also admitted to wounding three. Those  “knee-capped”, were Giorgio Rossanigo, a doctor in the Novara prison, who was “too harsh with political prisoners”, Diego Fava, a doctor with Alfa Romeo who, “didn’t readily issue certificates to politicized workers”, and Antonio Nigro, a guard in the Verona prison. To the Public Minister’s question about who had helped him to abscond, Battisti replied that abroad there had been: “parties, intellectuals and editorials worldwide” which gave him “ideological and logistical support. They did it for ideological reasons and out of solidarity.  I don’t know if these people have ever questioned whether I was responsible for what I was being condemned,.” “Many didn’t pose the question” but “I was supported also because I declared myself innocent, since in many countries guilt declared in absentia is unthinkable and since I gave the idea of one fighting for freedom.”

When the PM asked him whether he had anything else to say, Battisti replied: “I apologize to the family members of the people I killed or those I hurt. The armed struggle was disastrous and crushed the positive, social and culture revolution that began in ’68. For me and others it was a just war. Today I am uncomfortable about reconstructing events that can do nothing other than give rise to my revision of them. To speak today of armed struggle is for me, something senseless. (Corriere della Sera, 25 marzo 2019). This “self-absolution” has nothing whatever to do with repentance. That, in fact, presupposes a judgment on one’s own actions in the light of good and evil, and resulting sentiment of pain and sorrow, whereas Battisti’s judgment remains the Gramscian philosophy of praxis: his actions are wrong, because the armed struggle was incapable of actualizing the Communist Revolution in Italy. What emerges in the interview as even graver, is however, the admission of the existence of an ideological network cover, consisting of men who still today occupy key positions and who will never be condemned publically. 

Cesare Battisti

Among the personalities that claimed Cesare Battisti’s innocence, are Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Bernard Henry-Levy and many intellectuals from various countries, who excluded a priori that Battisti could be a murderer and they accused the Italian State of violence and repression.  Their opinions were spread by the mass-media, which, forced to admit the evidence, avoided however, indicting the 1500 signatures asking for the release of Battisti, after his arrest in France in 2004.

Most of the terrorists, condemned or under investigation by the Italian judiciary during the so-called “Years of Lead” were welcomed on the other side of the Alps, thanks to the “Mitterand doctrine” (1982) whereby the French President had granted them the status of political refugees.  This recognition saved them from investigation and blocked every request for extradition. The only condition was that the subjects were not wanted for acts against the French State and had rejected (at least in word) every form of political violence.

The one who inspired the “Mitterand doctrine” was a noted French priest, Henri Antoine Grouès, known as Abbé Pierre (1912-2007), political activist close to the extreme left, founder of Compagnons d’Emmaüs (1949) an organization founded on the myth of welcoming social outcasts. Among these were the Red Brigade terrorists, of whom Abbé Pierre was a protector (cfr, Silvano De Prospo and Rosario Priore, Chi manovrava le Brigate Rosse, (Who maneuvered the Red brigade)  Ponte alle Grazie, 2010).

Abbé Pierre often criticized John Paul II and Benedict XVI, declaring himself in favor of the possibility of ordaining women and married men, as well as sustaining the right to homosexuals of having stable relationships and rearing children. Before dying he confessed he had had sexual relations with women, even if not stable.  In his autobiography, Mon Dieu… pourquoi? (My God …why?), when speaking of the “force of desire” he affirms “It was a momentary caving in. I never had a regular relationship, as I didn’t allow sexual desire to take root.” (La Repubblica, October 27, 2005).

In Italy, Abbé Pierre made many stopovers in the Arezzian area, where four Emmaus communities were thriving, and often met the bishops of the dioceses that protected them. Among them was Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, Bishop of Arezzo from 1998 to 2009 and today President of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI). In a recent interview, Cardinal Bassetti distanced himself from the upcoming Congress in Verona on the Family, stating that the only human family was that made up of immigrants who are “the least, the little ones and the poorest of this world and as Paul VI said, the poor belong to the Church by “evangelical right”. With the same firmness I would like to stress a concept that is perhaps troublesome for the high-thinking: for a Catholic it is absolutely immoral to see in the immigrant an enemy to fight and hate.”

Abbé Pierre died on January 22nd 2007, at the age of 93. «Merci l’abbé Pierre de nous avoir donné un tel exemple», said Cardinal Philippe Barbarin in the funeral homily at Notre Dame – the same Cardinal condemned in the first degree, on February 19, 2019 to a six months conditional sentence in prison, for having covered up the sexual abuses of a French priest.  “You are gone” he said at that time “ and we, as companions of Emmaus, set out briskly, today, to give witness to this love and service to the other, until our last breath.”

“Thank you Abbé Pierre for having given us such an example”, the Italian Bishops Conference newspaper  commented, in announcing the “departure” of Abbé Pierre “for the Great Vacation” as he used to call death (Avvenire, January 21, 2017).

In Italy the message of Abbé Pierre was picked up by Don Michele De Paolis, a Salesian priest, who, among his numerous utterances, also declared: “Today the stance of the Church regarding homosexuals is severe, inhuman and creates so much suffering, by affirming that homosexuality is a sin (…). Some people of the Church say: “It’s fine to be homosexual, but they mustn’t have relations, they mustn’t love! It’s  the height of hypocrisy. It’s like saying to a plant that is growing” You mustn’t bloom, you mustn’t bear fruit! This yes, is against nature!*

 On May 6th 2014, Don Michele De Paolis, concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis at Santa Marta, and was amazed at the Holy Father’s reaction, when. after a brief conversation he bent down and kissed his hand. The Pope had promised an audience to the Emmaus group, but Don Michele departed for “The Great Vacation”  on October 30th 2014.  In his will he asked to be cremated and  his ashes, as he desired, are kept in an urn inside the chapel of the Community of Emmaus. ** Naturally Pope Francis ignores the “red thread” which through Don De Paolis and Abbé Pierre, connects him to Cesare Battisti.

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana