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La Pira: A Catholic Communist - Part XII

An Agenda Similar to Communism’s

Dr. Carol Byrne
We can discern three phases in La Pira’s political agenda which correspond with those of the Communist Revolution in Russia:

1. A revolution must take over the existing government

La Pira

A meticulous agenda planned under the inspiration of Msgr. Montini, the future Paul VI

We have seen in previous installments how La Pira was part of Msgr. Montini’s conspiratorial inner circle who were groomed at the Camaldoli Monastery to become a cadre of future political leaders to overthrow the Italian government and achieve complete State control of the economy and labor. Their rationale seemed inspired by Lenin’s vision of a “vanguard party” applied to the situation in Italy.

As one of those conspirators, La Pira called for a revolution that would be as sudden and as sweeping as that of October 1917 in Russia. Article 86 of the Code of Camaldoli, which he endorsed called for a “profound and rapid transformation in the economy and society.” (1)

La Pira put it this way: “you must change everything in Italy, introduce a planned economy and radically change the country’s political personnel.” (2) All the evidences of La Pira’s life that we have so far presented show that his brand of Catholic Action had a revolutionary programme to eliminate traditional Catholic values and replace them with a universal, secular creed of “human rights” as outlined by Jacques Maritain.

2. A dictatorship over every area of the citizens’ lives

La Pira’s endorsement of the Code of Camaldoli tells us that he favored concentration of all political power in the State, which would be effectively a dictatorship of the hammer and sickle in every field of human action, not just in economic matters. A government based on La Pira’s politics would be as all-embracing and “unifying” as any totalitarian regime. It would require the appointment of apparatchiks to decide who gets what, and, consequently, a vast number of bureaucrats (administrators, regulators and snoopers) to give the State more power over citizens’ lives.

So, Catholics have a right to be shocked at Pope John Paul II’s praise of La Pira’s politics when he said: “To the powerful of the Earth he boldly proclaimed his ideas as a believer and a lover of peace, inviting his listeners to a common effort to promote the fundamental good in various sectors: in society, politics, economics, culture and among religions.” (3)

But La Pira’s method of dealing with the “social problem” was as devious as it was unprincipled. He tried to persuade Catholics that by giving up capitalist enterprises they would be following the Gospel. The reality behind the rhetoric was that he advocated a central bureaucratic distributist system, which would amount to the collapse of economic – and hence political – freedom. As in the Soviet Union and similar Socialist regimes, the system would have to be imposed on the citizenry with an ever larger hammer.

La Pira with a msessianic gaze

A self-designated 'messiah' to install Communism in Italy

3. A socialist utopia must fool the people

La Pira projected himself as a kind of political messiah using vague utopian platitudes about building bridges of justice and peace spanning the world. He claimed unquestioning support for his self-styled mission to deliver the poor and the workers from capitalist “oppression” into the “promised land” of freedom, equality, justice and peace. That is how he achieved popularity among socialist-minded Catholics who continue to hail him as a “prophet.”

Squaring the circle

La Pira’s attempts to make an impossible reconciliation between the fundamentally opposing principles of Catholicism and Communism are found in his early writings: La Nostra Vocazione Sociale [Our Social Vocation] published in 1945 and two articles, "L’attesa de la povera gente" [The poor are waiting] and "La difesa de la povera gente" [The defense of the poor], both published in 1950.

The salient point about La Nostra Vocazione Sociale is that it reads like a charter for Liberation Theology: its principal theme of social equality is identified with the message of the Gospel. Giorgio La Pira claimed that the principle of egalitarianism represented not only the inspirational foundation of his new order of society, but, incredibly, the will of Christ. It would supposedly be the “equality revealed by Christ.”

Far from being the embodiment of the Gospel, La Pira’s principles are in complete accord with the Communist Manifesto: There would be full employment, communal ownership of the means of production and equal distribution of wealth for all. (4) In other words, the citizens’ work and wealth should belong to the government and ought to be distributed by the government equally among the citizens. In La Pira’s estimation, everyone should be allocated the minimum of goods (minimo di benessere) considered by the ruling elite to be necessary for life.

Duiseppe Dossetti and La Pira

Giuseppe Dossetti and La Pira, directors of Cronache Sociali - Social Chronicles - discussing the news

The background to La Pira’s article “The poor are waiting” (5) is revealing. It was first published in 1950 in the Left-wing journal, Cronache Sociali, which was the organ of the Christian Democratic Party led by Giuseppe Dossetti. La Pira was one of Dossetti’s inner circle, and in 1947 co-founded the Cronache Sociali. This journal militated for a planned economy and the end of private property and Capitalism. It is particularly significant that the founders of the Cronache looked to the Soviet Constitution as well as the British Labour Party (6) as models for the Italian government. (7)

La Pira tried to deceive public opinion by presenting the content of his article under the guise of Catholic teaching. He made many references to biblical passages, interpreting them according to his Marxist world-view. He also assured his readers that the Gospel was primarily an “engineering manual” for the construction of a better world.

In his article he proposed a radical transformation of the country’s economic system and a restructuring of the government to ensure his Marxist goals of “full employment” and equality through State bureaucratic control. It is crucially important to understand that by “government,” La Pira meant that elite cadre of “Montini’s men” who had been trained at Camaldoli precisely for this purpose.

In his other article, “The defense of the poor,” also published in the Cronache Sociali, La Pira continued the theme of statism allied to Liberation Theology. He contended that “a Christian should have the same desire to eradicate unemployment and poverty as he has – or should have – to receive Christ into his soul.” These words were taken from a pro-communist Italian priest, Don Luigi Moresco (8) about whom La Pira had written a book promoting his theology. (9) Don Moresco, the parish priest of Saint Apollinaire in Piedicastello, Trent, supported the local communists and socialists and flew the red flag from the bell tower of his church. (10)

It is clear that in his writings La Pira was attempting to syncretise Catholicism with the anti-Christian philosophy of Marxism in order to increase the power of the State, whereas Christianity insists on a relatively minor role of the State so that individuals are set free to help the poor.

Conclusion

Throughout his entire political career, La Pira presented himself falsely as the voice of the Catholic Church. The reality is that, by pursuing socialist goals of equality for all, he transformed Christianity into a this-world ideology and proved himself to be an early exponent of Liberation Theology. He believed that by recasting Marxism in a Christian mold, he could thereby overcome the Church’s opposition to Communism and demonstrate the power of his socialist ideology.

It was a deliberate deception of the unsuspecting and vulnerable faithful, for he must have known that the Marxism he favored in the Code of Camaldoli came straight from the Communist Revolution and underpinned the anti-Catholic regimes of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev, and that every State founded on Socialism has ended in tyranny, injustice and economic ruin.

a statue of La Pira is applauded in Florence

In 2004 a statue of La Pira was inaugurated in Florence; for more pictures and details click here

Unfortunately for us Catholics, there are those in the Vatican - including recent Popes - who not only swallowed this pretence of a “Catholic Communism,” parroting La Pira’s socialist propaganda, but are further misleading the faithful by considering him for canonization. The scandal is that no one in the Vatican spotted that La Pira had stolen the clothing of Christianity and simply co-opted Catholic principles to make them serve communist ends. Or, if they were aware of this, they chose to turn a blind eye.

Yet again – and Dorothy Day is another example – a Catholic Communist is being promoted for canonization without proper scrutiny. We need to be clear on the central issue at stake here. To canonize La Pira would be tantamount to canonizing his political ideology, which comes from the same statist principle of centralized government control as that of Lenin, negates property rights, and subordinates both the Church and the individual to the State.

In 2004, a special statue dedicated to Giorgio La Pira was unveiled in Florence in the presence of Archbishop Giuseppe Betori and the Mayor of the city. The question that ought to be on the lips of all Catholics should be: How in heaven’s name could such honors be granted to someone who had collaborated with the communists during the Cold War when thousands of Catholics had been slain in the name of the very Communism that La Pira wanted to bring to Italy?

Far from deserving a place among the canonized saints of the Catholic Church, La Pira merits a niche in the pantheon of traitors to his Church and country.

  1. “Una profonda e rapide trasformazione economica e sociale.” Nico Perrone, Il dissesto programmato: Le partecipazioni statali nel sistema di consenso democristiano, Dedalo, 1991, p. 14.
  2. Catholic Herald, 2 September 1955 (See here).
  3. Pope John Paul II quoted in Rodolfi Dori, Giorgio La Pira, Profeta di dialogo e di pace, (Preface by Bartolomeo Sorge SJ), Milan: Daughters of St Paul, 2004, back cover.
  4. The text of La Nostra Vocazione Sociale makes clear La Pira’s vision of the common good: “Full employment; communal ownership of production; a fair distribution to all: these are the three pillars of the building of the human community [Produzione per opera di tutti; comunità del prodotto; distribuzione proporzionata a tutti: ecco tre pilastri dell'edificio della comunità umana].”
  5. This title finds its echo in the recent document, Evangelii gaudium, by Pope Francis who stated that “the poor are still waiting.”
  6. The famous Clause IV of the British Labor Party Constitution (1918), drawn up by Sidney Webb of the Fabian Society, made a commitment to Socialism: It called for the nationalization of the means of “production, distribution and exchange.” Influenced by Keynesian economics, the Party favored government intervention in the economy, a “major redistribution of wealth and income”, and a complete welfare State. The Clause was abandoned in 1994.
  7. Paolo Pombeni, Il gruppo dossettiano e la fondazione della democrazia italiana (1938-1948), Bologna: Il Mulino, 1979, pp. 227-228.
  8. Don Luigi Moresco was the parish priest of Piedicastello, Trent, from 1946 to 1958. Together with Fr. da Fonseca he altered the text of the Secret of Fatima so as to avoid citing Russia by name.
  9. Giorgio La Pira, La vita interiore di Don Luigi Moresco, Rome: AVE Press, 1945.
  10. Renzo Francescotti, Gente di Quartiere – Storie di vecchi rioni di Trento, Trent: Innocenti Edition, 1980.

Posted January 6, 2014

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