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The clerical response to a totalitarian political religion: la civiltà Cattolica and Italian Fascism

Jan Nelis (UGent)
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Abstract
This article offers a close reading of the discourse on Italian fascism within the authoritative Italian Jesuit periodical La Civilta Cattolica. The author shows that, when confronted with the fascist movement, La Civilta Cattolica made no moves to oppose the regime, instead positioning itself so as to negotiate with and accommodate the fascist rhetoric. This decision was driven in part by the close alignment between the politics of Catholicism and fascism, and further fostered by the absence of a viable alternative political power. The article also illustrates the manner in which Catholic intellectuals intuitively perceived some aspects of fascist totalitarianism and the 'sacralization of politics' as threatening, particularly when confronted with manifestations of what was termed 'political heresy', along with certain features of fascist associationalism. However, despite their concerns no explicit rupture between Church and regime ever eventuated; on the contrary, some accounts imply an intended merger, however unstable it may have proven, between the 'religious' and 'totalitarian' goals of both parties.
Keywords
CULT, Catholicism, ROMANITA, REVOLUTION, MYTH, fascism, Italy, Jesuits, political religion, totalitarianism

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Chicago
Nelis, Jan. 2011. “The Clerical Response to a Totalitarian Political Religion: La Civiltà Cattolica and Italian Fascism.” Journal of Contemporary History 46 (2): 245–270.
APA
Nelis, Jan. (2011). The clerical response to a totalitarian political religion: la civiltà Cattolica and Italian Fascism. JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY HISTORY, 46(2), 245–270.
Vancouver
1.
Nelis J. The clerical response to a totalitarian political religion: la civiltà Cattolica and Italian Fascism. JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY HISTORY. 2011;46(2):245–70.
MLA
Nelis, Jan. “The Clerical Response to a Totalitarian Political Religion: La Civiltà Cattolica and Italian Fascism.” JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY HISTORY 46.2 (2011): 245–270. Print.
@article{1980729,
  abstract     = {This article offers a close reading of the discourse on Italian fascism within the authoritative Italian Jesuit periodical La Civilta Cattolica. The author shows that, when confronted with the fascist movement, La Civilta Cattolica made no moves to oppose the regime, instead positioning itself so as to negotiate with and accommodate the fascist rhetoric. This decision was driven in part by the close alignment between the politics of Catholicism and fascism, and further fostered by the absence of a viable alternative political power. The article also illustrates the manner in which Catholic intellectuals intuitively perceived some aspects of fascist totalitarianism and the 'sacralization of politics' as threatening, particularly when confronted with manifestations of what was termed 'political heresy', along with certain features of fascist associationalism. However, despite their concerns no explicit rupture between Church and regime ever eventuated; on the contrary, some accounts imply an intended merger, however unstable it may have proven, between the 'religious' and 'totalitarian' goals of both parties.},
  author       = {Nelis, Jan},
  issn         = {0022-0094},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY HISTORY},
  keyword      = {CULT,Catholicism,ROMANITA,REVOLUTION,MYTH,fascism,Italy,Jesuits,political religion,totalitarianism},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {245--270},
  title        = {The clerical response to a totalitarian political religion: la civilt{\`a} Cattolica and Italian Fascism},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022009410392406},
  volume       = {46},
  year         = {2011},
}

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