Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

D. A. Binchy, Church and State in Fascist Italy ( Oxford, 1941).

P. Hughes, Pope Pius the Eleventh ( New York, 1937), pp. 195-228.

A. Jemolo, Church and State in Italy, 1850-1950 ( Oxford, 1960), pp. 182-277.

P. Kent, The Pope and the Duce: the International Impact of the Lateran Agreements ( London, 1981).

J. F. Pollard, The Vatican and Italian Fascism 1929-1932 ( Cambridge, 1985).


144
Non Abbiamo Bisogno (Extracts) June 29, 1931

The signing of the Lateran Accord briefly preceded the inauguration of a second and more absolute stage in Fascist dictatorship in which the totalitarian regime inevitably collided with the church. Conflict came over the youth program of Catholic Action. In May 1931, after harassing Catholic leaders and accusing Catholic Action of anti-Fascist activity, the government ordered the closing of Catholic youth offices. Pius XI ( 1922-1939) replied with this encyclical, rejecting Fascist charges against the church and asserting Catholic rights in education. (In September 1931, tension relaxed. The government again permitted Catholic Action, while the church placed Catholic youth directly under episcopal authority, dropped sports programs, carefully related educational and trcial activities to religious ends, and avoided political entanglements.)

Already on several occasions . . . we have protested against the campaign of false and unjust accusations which preceded the disbanding of the associations of the young people and of the university students affiliated with Catholic Action. It was a disbanding which was carried out in a way and with the use of tactics which would give the impression that action was being taken against a vast and dangerous organization of criminals. And the proceedings were directed against young men and young women who are certainly some of the best among the good. . . . It is noteworthy that even among the officers of the law charged to carry out these orders of suppression, there were many who were ill at ease. . . .

However, in sad contrast to the manner of acting of these officials, there were how many acts of mistreatment and of violence, extending even to the striking of blows and the drawing of blood! How many insults in the press, how many injurious words and acts against things and persons, not excluding Ourself. . . . And all of this sad accompaniment of irreverences and of violence took place in the presence of and with the participation of members of a political party some of whom were in uniform, and . . . with such a passive acquiescence on the part of the civil authori-

Extracts from Encyclical Letter (Non abbiamo bisogno) of His Holiness, Pope Pius XI Issued June 29, 1931. Copyright © 1931, by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc., 3211 4th Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017 and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

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