Giuseppe Dossetti: La fede e la storia. Studi nel decennale della morte. Edited by Alberto Melloni. [Istituto per le scienze religiose-Bologna. Testi e richerche di scienze religiose, Nuova serie, 39] (Bologna: Società editrice il Mulino. 2007. Pp. 415. euro29,00 paperback. ISBN 978-8-815-12069-4.)
This book presents the fruit of meetings held in 2006, the tenth anniversary of Giuseppe Dossetti's death. Bologna's respected Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXLLL which he launched, hosted the conferences. Dossetti (1913-96) was a key figure in postwar Italian Catholic politics and might be considered a founding father of the republic.The product of Milan's Catholic University, he eventually taught there, acquiring a reputation as a progressive and as one of the professorini ("little professors"), a like-minded group that included Giuseppe Lazzati (who became the rector of the university), Giorgio LaPira (the mayor of Florence), and Amintore Fanfani (Italy's fivetime prime minister). During World War II, Dossetti stood among the most important Catholics in the antifascist resistance, and he then worked as one of the key Christian Democrats (of the Democrazia Cristiana, or DC) who drafted Italy's new constitution. His views on land reform and opposition to adherence to NATO, however, led to a rift with the DC leadership, beginning with Alcide DeGasperi and extending, as Paolo Pombeni notes in his chapter, to rather nasty polemics with Giulio Andreotti. These fights ended his status in the party by the early 1950s. Still, in 1956 he was persuaded to run in what turned out to be an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Bologna's popular communist mayor, Giuseppe Dozza. Dossetti "retired" from politics and entered the priesthood, serving at the Second Vatican Council and establishing a religious community in the Middle East.
Dossetti was a figure who collected groups of passionate followers and bitter enemies, and, although this book displays an admirable scholarship, the contributors clearly identify themselves more with the former than with the latter. Many of them, such as Romano and Paolo Prodi, knew him well. …