Cattolicesimo E Totalitarianismo. Chiese E Culture Religiose Tra le Due Guerre Mondiali (Italia, Spagna, Francia)

By Domenico, Roy | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Cattolicesimo E Totalitarianismo. Chiese E Culture Religiose Tra le Due Guerre Mondiali (Italia, Spagna, Francia)


Domenico, Roy, The Catholic Historical Review


Cattolicesimo e totalitarianismo. Chiese e culture religiose tra le due guerre mondiali (Italia, Spagna, Francia). Edited by Daniele Menozzi and Renato Moro. (Brescia, Italy: Editrice Morcelliana. 2004. Pp. 411. euro28.00.)

Daniele Menozzi, of the Scuola normale superiore di Pisa, and Renato Moro, of the Università degli studi "Roma Tre," edited this worthy volume based on research and conferences at the University of Florence and at the University of Urbino's Romolo Murri Foundation. Given the book's concentration on the Spanish, French, and Italian experience, "totalitarianism" here mainly concerns its right-wing dimensions rather than its communist one. Nor does German Nazism figure much except in discussions of Mussolini's alliance -with Hitler. Nevertheless, given the enormous volume of recent work on how the Holy see or the German Catholic Church faced Nazi racism, Cattolicesimo e totalitarianismo provides needed context and reminds us that Rome's response to interwar Latin totalitarianism was ambivalent. One question provoked by the book's title might be the choice of the word "totalitarianism," a concept that touches every essay in one way or another. Among the central questions for historians of fascism are ones of definition; "what is fascism," for instance, or "what is totalitarianism?" Such queries apply to this book. How totalitarian was Mussolini's state? Menozzi and Moro acknowledge difficulties with this term that, they note, the Church did not use until about 1938 (p. 374). Other concepts at work include secularization and, more important for the purposes of the book, what the Italians call statolatria or "state worship ."The essays in Cattolicesimo e totalitarianismo mix Catholic elements into this stew. Many of the figures dealt with here ponder the idea of a universal state, often in efforts to reconcile the Church and Mussolini's regime, recalling both pagan and the Christian Roman Empire, medieval Christendom, modern Italian nationalism, and the Duce's "resurrected" empire in Africa.

Menozzi and Moro group the collection into three sections. The first, titled "Authority," deals with the Church and the new twentieth-century "false religion" of statolotria. Menozzi begins with a discussion of Pius XI's 1925 encyclical, Quas primas on the "social kingdom of Christ" and its interpretation as either a political call to arms or as a "spiritual document." Quas primas occurs in many of the following studies. The next chapter, by Giovanni Vian, samples Italian bishops for their ideas on power and authority, concepts that they preferred over anarchy and mob rule. For them, Fascism offered solace and the Lateran Accords. Alfonso Botti concludes with a study of the Spanish Church and the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera and recalls the question here of whether or not he was, indeed, a totalitarian? Like the split over Quas primas, Botti finds diverse judgments on the regime, from (at times) suspicious Jesuits to more sympathetic Augustinians. …

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