‘Clerical Fascism’: Context, Overview and Conclusion

John Pollard| Published online: 18 May 2007

Taylor and Francis Online

It was the Catholic priest and leader of the Italian People’s Party, Luigi Sturzo, who first coined the term ‘clerico‐fascism’, rather than ‘clerical fascism’, back in 1922. He applied it to former members of his party, almost all laymen, who were either drawn directly into the Fascist movement – the Partito Nazionale Fascista – or set up ‘flanking’ organisations, like the Unione Costituzionale, the Unione Nazionale or the Centro Nazionale Italiano in order to rally Catholic support for the anti‐communist and pro‐Catholic policies of Mussolini and his first Fascist government. Some later stood in Mussolini’s National Block of candidates in the 1924 general elections. 1 However, from that very same period, the term clerico‐fascist was also used in the Italian political context to designate individual members of the clergy who were supporters of Fascism, like Franciscan friar Agostino Gemelli, rector of the Catholic University of Milan and a vociferous supporter of Fascism on such issues as the invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and the introduction of the Racial Laws in 1938, and Father Brucculeri, who supported Fascist policies in the pages of the authoritative Jesuit fortnightly, La Civiltà Cattolica. 2 The papacy, and thus the church in Italy, was an essential component of the ‘block of consensus’ on which the Fascist regime depended during its nearly 21 year existence, hence raising the issue of the institutional church as a form of ‘clerical fascism’, a point to which we will return later.

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The Root of Evil: Does religion promote violence?

William T. Cavanaugh, July 16, 2013


The Boston Marathon bombings have fed fears of terrorism and also given new encouragement to one of our society’s preferred ways of dealing with the fear of terrorism: we assign it to the realm of the irrational, to which we oppose the rationality of our own society. The revelation that the perpetrators were Muslims from a part of the world that harbors Islamist militants has refueled one of the most persistent themes in public discourse in the West, the idea that religion has a tendency to promote violence. A spate of articles with titles like “Did Religion Motivate the Boston Bombers?” (The Washington Post) and “Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects Seen as Driven by Religion” (The Associated Press) appeared in the aftermath of the explosions.

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