Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Cattolici E Fascisti: La Santa Sede E la Politica Italiana All'alba del Regime (1919-1925)

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Cattolici E Fascisti: La Santa Sede E la Politica Italiana All'alba del Regime (1919-1925)

Article excerpt

Cattolici efascisti: La Santa Sede e la política italiana all'alba del Regime (1919-1925). By Alberto Guaseo. (Bologna: Società éditrice il Mulino. 2013. Pp. 575. euro40,00 paperback. ISBN 978-88-15-24520-5.)

This new book of Alberto Guaseo, a professor of politics at the University of Turin and a researcher at the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Sciences in Bologna, joins the growing body of work that has taken advantage of recent access to the records of Pius XI's pontificate. The reader may wonder why the book ends in 1925 rather than 1929, when the Lateran Pacts concluded a long era of difficult Italo-Vatican relations. The author answers that, as 1929 and the 1930s have received extensive treatment, an examination of the early 1920s brings back into view other important but neglected factors such as World War I. The year 1925, moreover, marks the resolution of the murder of the Socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti, the end of Benito Mussolini's vacillations, and the establishment of his Fascist dictatorship. By 1925, therefore, the Church and others understood much better the true nature of the Fascist beast.

Guaseo paints the picture of a Church under both Benedict XV and Pius XI that was unsure of itself in its approach to Mussolini's blackshirts. After the Bolshevik conquest of power in Russia and in the politically charged atmosphere of postwar Europe, Rome desperately searched for a political alternative to the everbolder left. Toward that end Benedict was open to the creation of a Catholic Party, the Popolari under don Luigi Sturzo, whereas the next pontiff was more skeptical. Pius, in contrast, preferred a less political solution in Italian Catholic Action. Furthermore, Guaseo concludes that, for both Benedict and Pius, the Popolari failed to measure up to expectations as counterweights to the liberals and subsequently the Fascists. …

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