STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Mussolini and a Pope

In 1922, Achille Ratti succeeded Pope Benedict XV. The same year, Benito Mussolini became Italy’s prime minister. Pope Pius XI, born on this day in 1857, shared an unholy alliance with the Il Duce

Published: 31st May 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th May 2017 11:19 PM   |  A+A-

In 1922, Achille Ratti succeeded Pope Benedict XV. The same year, Benito Mussolini became Italy’s prime minister. Pope Pius XI, born on this day in 1857, shared an unholy alliance with the Il Duce

Unholy alliance
After the fascist leader Mussolini took charge, the two men started to depend on each other. The dictator relied on the Pope to ensure Catholic support for his regime, providing much-needed moral legitimacy, writes David Kertzer in his book The Pope and Mussolini. The Pope counted on Mussolini to help him restore the Church’s power in Italy, Kertzer adds

Priest-eater
Mussolini was known in his youth as mangiaprete (priest-eater). Fascist squads were also beating up priests and Catholic youth. So naturally, when Mussolini came to power, the papacy was not happy. But Mussolini wanted to use the church to legitimise his power and so started wooing the clergy by funding churches. Although Pius and Mussolini met only once, they communicated continuously through ambassadors

No backless ballgowns
For example, Pius was not happy about women dressing inadequately—particularly backless ballgowns. In 1930, the Vatican banned a book on sexuality. Later, Mussolini also outlawed the book. But Mussolini was creating an empire of his own. In 1938, he made more than 2000 priests lay wreaths on a fascist shrine. And they had to salute Mussolini

Too late
The Pope was not amused. Eventually he realised his error. He had written a speech denouncing the fascists, but passed away in 1939 before delivering it. His successor destroyed the notes and ensured the unholy and uneasy alliance continued

Stay up to date on all the latest Opinions news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp