The Church has done it again. As per a report, a magazine run by a church in Goa has ended up comparing the NDA governments to the Nazi regime in Germany. In doing so, it has accused the present government of carrying out a “constitutional holocaust”, a nonsensical term that is sure to find pride of place in liberal vocabulary.
Before indulging in such hyperbole and instead of accusing others of being “like Nazis”, the Catholic Church and its flock would do well to examine (and admit) their own historical connections with Hitler and Mussolini.
Did you know there was a time when the Catholic Church saw Mussolini as a man sent by God?
Indeed, when Italy was born as a country in the second half of the 19th century, a lot of the unification happened at the expense of the “Papal states“, which were lands held by the Pope. When stripped of its moneybag, the Catholic Church revolted against the Italian government, excommunicating the King and even forbade Catholics from voting in Parliamentary elections … a fatwa if you will.
Who did the Catholic Church see as the messenger of God that would bring all this democracy and secularism to an end?
Fascist Benito Mussolini, the savior.
In the early 20th century, as the Fascists began to consolidate their power in Italy, they found an eager ally in the Pope. Let David Kertzer, professor of Italian studies at Brown University, explain in this interview to NPR (you can also read about it in his book The Pope and Mussolini)
And yes, Mussolini’s fascist rallies in 1933 would begin with a morning mass performed by a Catholic priest.
Interestingly, as the World War drew closer, the Church did have some doubts about supporting Mussolini, but the break never actually happened. The reason they had these doubts is not what you might suspect. The real reason makes for absolutely chilling reading:
But of course, with more practical considerations in mind, the break with Mussolini’s Fascist Regime and the Catholic Church never happened.
Did I mention that Mussolini gave the Catholic Church a cool 750 million lira in cash and another 1 billion lira in government bonds? When offered that kind of money, fascism can’t really be a roadblock, can it? (Here‘s from TIME Magazine on June 17th, 1929)
If you happen to be in a mind to dismiss these as old failings of a long dead Pope, I should remind you that the Catholic Church subscribes to the dogma of “Papal infallibility”. Simply put, this means that the Catholic Church officially believes that no Pope can ever be wrong.
Yeah…that’s a real thing. Check it out here. Indian ‘liberals’ would have made fun of it if the Pope wore saffron.
So Mussolini and the “infallible” Pope of the Catholic Church were allies. History.
Today, Manohar Parrikar is too much of a ‘fascist’ for them.
You cannot change history, but fortunately for our eminent historians and intellectuals, you can always try to cover it up.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.