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.1However, 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.2The 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.
Wer heute Martin Luther verehrt, der durch die Übersetzung der Bibel ins Deutsche und den Anschlag seiner 95 Thesen in 1517 in Wittenberg berühmt wurde, dürfte sich wohl kaum bewusst sein, dass dieser Mann wiederholt zu Mord und Totschlag aufrief, Frauen missachtete, als Hexen verbrennen ließ und übelsten Antisemitismus predigte. Auch wenn man meinen könnte, Luthers radikale Äußerungen gehören allesamt der Vergangenheit an, so gab es doch 1944 ein trauriges Wiedererstehen, als seine Hetzreden auszugsweise zitiert und damit versucht wurde, den Mord an Millionen Menschen auf absurde Weise ideologisch zu rechtfertigen.
Glaubt man der Bibel, dann hat Gott zur Zeit des Propheten Mose Völkermorde, die Todesstrafe und Tieropfer befohlen. Gleichzeitig gab Gott durch Mose jedoch das Gebot: „Du sollst nicht töten“. Auch distanziert sich Gott durch einige Propheten des Alten Bundes deutlich von den Ritualen der Tieropfer. Wie kommt das?
It’s hard out here for a pope. See, when it comes to religious history, the list of Catholic Church transgressions makes for pretty uncomfortable reading. Despite exalting virtue and kindness in its teaching, church leadership has spearheaded a long history of outright unforgivable Catholic actions.
You might remember some of these improprieties from school – the Inquisition, Joan of Arc, and the trial of Galileo should all ring a bell. But not everything here is medieval. Though Vatican violence goes way back, a number of disturbing episodes are from recent history. Some of this repugnant behavior comes from popes, some was church-endorsed, and some, most unsettlingly, was just straight-up regular church practice.
Dark church history contains scandal after scandal rife with every vice and taboo you can imagine. When the church was at the height of its power (at which point it was the most powerful organization in the Western world), it’s safe to say everything went to its head. Combine that with church leaders seeming to stubbornly resist adapting to changing morality and you’ve got a whole lot of unforgivable moments on your hands.
A new wave of sex scandals and allegations he personally covered for an abusive cardinal have Pope Francis under fire. But is he in trouble?
n August 2013, Józef Wesołowski, the Vatican‘s ambassador to the Dominican Republic since 2008, abruptly abandoned his island home. He’d been a staple on the waterfront in Santo Domingo, the capital city, where—often dressed like he was out for a jog—he assumed a laid-back and less-than-holy presence. The shoeshiners knew him casually as “the Italian,” because of the way he spoke Spanish with a distinct accent. (He was actually Polish.) He often had beers in the sun at a popular restaurant. He seemed, well, normal.
Like many Dominican monks of his time, Bernard Gui rose through the ranks of the Inquisition. At the age of 35 he was named Grand Inquisitor of Toulouse, a repressive office he held from 1306 to 1323. The church hierarchy rewarded his efforts with a 1314 appointment as the Vicar of Toulouse, and he was sent on several papal missions to Italy and the French court. [Lea, Inq II, 104]
Gui was a four-star general in the war on heresy. He wrote its principal battle plan, a handbook for Inquisitors entitled Practica Inquisitionis Hereticae Pravitatis: a “guide for inquiring into heretical depravity.” A classic interrogatory manual of the medieval Inquisition, it detailed forbidden beliefs, practices and rituals, and set out formulas of abjuration to be repeated by those the Church Militant had tortured into submission. Interrogatory torments administered before the tribunal did not count as punishment, but as the means of extracting “confessions.” Official penalties included death, imprisonment, exile, confiscation of property, and enforced pilgrimage to distant sites.
“. . . millions of witches, sorcerers, possessed and obsessed were an enormous mass of severe neurotics [and ] psychotics. . . for many years the world looked like a veritable insane asylum. . . .” (Gregory Zilboorg).
“. . . the witch-craze was neither a lynching party nor a mass suicide by hysterical women. Rather, it followed well-ordered, legalistic procedures. The witch-hunts were well-organized campaigns, initiated, financed and executed by Church and State. . . .” (Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English)