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La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part I - What La Pira Expected from the Council

by Dr. Carol Byrne

Taken from here, slightly adapted.

What was it about Giorgio La Pira, twice Mayor of Florence, (1) that elicited the highest praise not only from Dorothy Day but also from Popes Paul VI, John Paul II (who opened his Cause in 1986) and Benedict XVI? And why was it that John XXIII had protected him from all criticism on the grounds that he was a Catholic and therefore beyond reproach? (2)

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Giorgio La Pira extending a hand to Communism with a smiling, ‘Christian’ face

The answer, in a nutshell, is that they were all Catholics friendly to Communism.
  • Dorothy Day called him “a saint in politics” who “took the unused homes of the rich to make homes for the poor” without their owners’ permission. (3)
  • Paul VI characterized him as “the example every Christian ought to keep firmly in mind during his earthly passage towards the kingdom of God.” (4)
  • John Paul II said he was “an exemplary lay Christian” for “the entire Ecclesial Community” and recommended “everyone to cherish his teaching.” (5)
  • Benedict XVI said that as “an eminent figure in politics, culture and spirituality of the last century,” La Pira worked “for the cause of fraternal existence among nations,” setting an example to present day Catholics for “a common effort to promote this basic good in various spheres: in society, politics, the economy, cultures and among religions.” (6)

However, it seems to have been forgotten that there was a time – before Vatican II – when La Pira had been strongly criticized in the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, for his pro-socialist views. As a Catholic working in collaboration with communists, he earned the nickname of “the little red fish in the holy water font.” In particular, the newspaper expressed “shock” at his pro-communist activism and issued warnings to Catholics notto follow his example. (7)

Let us look at the teaching and example set by this “saint in politics” who is now being considered for formal canonization. Outwardly, La Pira presented himself as an extraordinarily pious Catholic. He attended Mass daily, read the Bible, lived for some years in a monastery cell and was often seen walking around Florence barefoot, having given his shoes, coat, umbrella and most of his salary to the poor. But his good works were accompanied by flamboyant and idiosyncratic gestures, (8) and inwardly he was not lacking in self-aggrandizing flights of fancy.

La Pira’s Dream of the Council

La Pira felt that Florence was a place called by Providence to produce a “great bridge of peace spanning the world” (9) and saw himself at the hub of that world-changing process. Incredibly, what should have been considered as, at best, a piece of comic fiction and, at worst, an advanced case of megalomania, was taken seriously by the Vatican, which published on its official website the following words by Italian journalist and close friend of La Pira, Vittorio Citterich:

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Paul VI praised La Pira highly and helped allay suspicions about his socialist policies

"On September 4, 1962, even before the [Conciliar] Assembly began, a contemplative in political activity like Giorgio La Pira ('the charismatic Mayor of Florence,'” as John Paul II defines him in his great prayer for Italy) seemed to sense its potential impact on the future:

“‘How does the Council fit into the great perspective of the Church and the nations in this technical, scientific and space age which marks an unprecedented turning-point in the history of the world? An age in which war is disappearing, peace flourishes, the world is becoming united, ideologies are crumbling and the Church is emerging more and more every day, almost to enlighten it...’” (10)

Here La Pira shows himself to be one of those millenarian impostors who throughout history have sought to mobilize the masses of the poor towards a communistic dream of a Golden Age where everyone would supposedly live together in harmony. When these utopian dreams are put into practice, however, they have always resulted in widespread mayhem and bloodshed.

His “prophetic witness” has, however, been proved false on two counts. Not only have ideologies been given leave to flourish through Vatican II’s “opening” to the world, but the light of Christianity has been almost totally extinguished from whole nations through the Council’s failure to preach the Truth “in season and out of season.” And so the Church has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, a mere plaything in the hands of would-be reformers like La Pira for the progress of humanity in a new social order.

On the eve of Vatican II, La Pira wrote a circular letter to the religious superiors of convents in an attempt to persuade them of the benefits of the revolutionary changes that the upcoming Council was about to introduce into the Church. He described it as a "new society in justice, hope, progress and freedom":

“The Council ‘opens’ … to all the most active schools of ‘social’ thought (in the broadest sense) which affect peoples all over the Earth and have been so decisively influential – and will continue to be so – in building a new science, a new culture a new economy and a new society in justice, hope, progress and freedom.” (11)

But La Pira’s dream was a mirage. It was that very “openness” of the Council to the modern world (celebrated by Pope John XXIII in his inaugural address) that weakened the Church by flooding her with ideas incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

Beneath La Pira’s rhetoric we can discern a recycled version of the discredited Marxist theory of “historical inevitability,” for he believed that he had insight into the driving force of history, the “hidden plan” on which the history of the world was built, and that his political action would guide it in the “proper” direction.

Unfortunately, the message of the Popes to follow La Pira as a leader of Catholic Action is tantamount to an endorsement of his political views which, as we shall see, were ideologically biased towards the most extreme Left of the political spectrum.


1. La Pira was Mayor of Florence from 1951-1958 and 1961-1965 i.e. before and during the Second Vatican Council

2. See here

3. Catholic Worker, October 1963

4. Wednesday Audience November 9, 1977

5. Letter of John Paul II To Card. Ennio Antonelli on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Birth of Giorgio La Pira, November 1, 2004

6. In a meeting with the National Association of Italian Local Authorities reported by the Catholic News Agency, April 26, 2004

7. See extracts from the L'Osservatore Romano in the archives of the Catholic Herald, e.g. here, here and here

8. Douglas Hyde, a well known convert from Communism, recounted that when La Pira was returning from his mayoral office in the Palazzo Vecchio, he “thumbed a lift on the back of a passing Vespa motor scooter, ridden by a teenage boy” and entertained his official guest to lunch “sitting on a landing at the top of the stairs in a home for juvenile delinquents”. (Douglas Hyde, ‘Hurricane Mayor’, Catholic Herald July 15, 1955, see here

9. La Pira, Letter of 28 October 1970, quoted by Giulio Andreotti in 30 Days Magazine, February 2004

10. Vittorio Critterich, ‘And the Church becomes News for the World

See here.
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part II - He Was the Link between the Vatican & the Kremlin

by Dr. Carol Byrne

Instead of being in the forefront in the battle against Soviet totalitarianism, Giorgio La Pira was busy sending up trial balloons for the rehabilitation of Communism in the West. Between 1952 and 1956 – some years before the Pact of Metz and the opening of Vatican II – he started by organizing Conferences on Civilization and Peace in Florence with goals similar to that of the Sillon – the concept of universal brotherhood among all religions as the foundation of political action for the social progress of humanity.

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La Pira standing to the right of Card. dalla Costa

His aim, in his own words, was “to begin a new history of a thousand years of civilisation and peace. A civilisation and a peace destined to refract fully onto the earth the loving light of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men.” (1)

This was only the warming up process for a bolder initiative – his 1955 Conference of Mayors of Capital Cities in Florence, at which he unfolded his plan for “peace of the cities of the entire world … which makes a pact of brotherhood at the very basis of the life of Nations.” (2)

The sting in the tail was the presence of Mayors from six communist countries at the Conference. La Pira invited them, together with the Soviet Ambassador to Italy, to a special Mass celebrated by his good friend, Card. Elia dalla Costa, in the Franciscan Basilica of Santa Croce.

For La Pira, the purpose of the Mass was far removed from the worship of God or the conversion of the communists. “The important thing,” he stated, “is that we have all come together here, each in his own way, wishing for peace and welfare and that we all together attended Mass, and all shook hands with a Cardinal who is truly a saint.” (3)

La Pira’s Collusion with Communists

The presence of the Soviet Ambassador Semyon P. Kozyrev as La Pira’s guest speaks volumes about the latter’s relationship with the Communist Party of Italy (CPI). As the intermediary between the Kremlin and the CPI, the Ambassador was in daily contact with Palmiro Togliatti who headed the CPI, and La Pira capitalized on his contacts with them in order to further his progressivist agenda.

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La Pira was in constant contact with Communist Party Secretary Togliatti, at left

At the top of his list was his quest for a political program of cooperation between Catholics and Communists to achieve peace and unity among all peoples, and he wrote many letters to Togliatti to establish dialogue between the Church and Communism. On December 25, 1947, for example, he wrote to Togliatti:

“The controversial relation between these two problems [that is to say Communism and Catholic Church] is the real essence of the modern crisis and anxiety.” (4) This “alienation” could be solved, according to La Pira, by uniting the philosophy of Marxism with Christian metaphysics.

Such a program played straight into the hands of the Soviet Ambassador and Togliatti who both wanted to establish links with the Catholic Church for purposes of infiltration and domination.

In fact, so close was the collusion between La Pira and Moscow that in 1956 Ambassador Kozyrev gave La Pira a secret preview of Khruschev’s famous report denouncing Stalin to the CPSU [Communist Party of Soviet Union] months before it was released to the western world. La Pira confirmed this fact: “Yes, it’s true: the Russian Ambassador handed the report to me in a monastery in Florence.”(5)

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La Pira, left, arranged for Krushev's daughter Rada and husband Alexei, center, to meet with John XXIII

It was through the intermediary of the Soviet Ambassador Kozyrev that in February 1963 La Pira was able to facilitate a meeting between Pope John XXIII and Khruschev’s daughter Rada and son-in-law Alexei Adjubei, editor-in-chief of the Soviet newspaper, Izvestiya. It was a surprise visit for the Vatican, but not for La Pira: immediately before the meeting, he had received the two Russians in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.(6)

At this meeting, Pope John XXIII had his photo taken shaking the hand of Adjubei, resulting in a massive boost in the popularity of the CPI among Catholics. In the general election of April 1963, the CPI won over 25% of the total votes.

The La Pira-Togliatti-Stalin Triangle

It is hardly a surprise, therefore, to learn that La Pira had a personal line of communication with Stalin (and later Khruschev) through his Soviet patrons in Italy. The Russian Ambassador was well-placed as an intermediary: He received his instructions directly from the International Department of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party (CPSU), and any information he obtained from La Pira through his friendly contacts would have been relayed straight back to Moscow.

La Pira made use of his friendship with Togliatti in 1951 when, after a meeting with Togliatti who was about to leave for Moscow, he asked him to transmit a message to Stalin for a political solution to the War in Korea. (7) We have every reason to be skeptical about this arrangement, given La Pira’s aversion to America and the U.S. intervention in the Korean War.

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La Pira co-authored a book promoting a 'Christian' Communism

After Pius XII issued his Decree against Communism on July 1, 1949, excommunicating all Catholics who collaborate in communist organizations, Stalin, realizing that a frontal attack on Catholicism would be futile, personally instructed Togliatti that the PCI should moderate its approach to the Church in Italy. Instead of open aggression, he said, the Party should spread the idea of how “the wealth and the ruling position of integral Christianity are at odds with the message of the Gospel.” (8)

It was in this area of propaganda that La Pira helped Togliatti to persuade Catholics that holders of wealth and power are fundamentally enemies of the Gospel and that Catholics and communists should cooperate to promote “evangelical poverty” in society. This was La Pira’s – as well as Togliatti’s and Stalin’s – strategy to neutralize anti-communist opposition and reduce Catholic hegemony without appearing to be anti-Catholic. It was also a backhanded way of combating Capitalism with Marxism disguised as Catholic teaching.

The more we know about this over-cozy relationship, the more scandalous it becomes. But La Pira did not seem to be perturbed by the thought that cozying up to representatives of one of the world’s most brutal regimes that practiced persecution and genocide on millions of innocent people is nothing short of moral bankruptcy.

He must have known that Togliatti was no friend of the Catholic Church. Since 1927, Togliatti had held the position of CPI leader and was Stalin’s emissary to the Spanish Communist Party, which persecuted the Church during the Spanish Civil War. He had also been Stalin’s henchman during the Great Purges and trials that liquidated countless “enemies of the revolution.”

The toll included Italian nationals – fellow countrymen of both Togliatti and La Pira – who had fled to Moscow during the Mussolini regime. They either died in the Gulags or were executed after a summary trial in the Stalinist Terror. (9) The salient factor here is that Togliatti was not just an enforcer of these acts but, as a leader of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, also directly responsible for them.

“No, I am not afraid of the communists,” La Pira once declared to Dorothy Day. (Catholic Worker, June 1963) Given this demonstration of blind insouciance in the face of danger, we are prompted to ask: What made La Pira so confident that if even Italian anti-fascists were liquidated by Togliatti he himself would be spared in the event of a communist take-over of Italy?


1. Quoted by La Pira’s friend, Vittorio Citterich, ‘The "holy mayor" and the powerful of the world’, Oasis, 2 September 2005
2. See here
3. Catholic Herald, December 29, 1961. See here
4. Marco Salvatore Paolino, Catholic Church, Holy See and Communism. From Divini Redemptoris to Ost-Politik. International scenario and Italian experience.
5. 30 Days Magazine, Februrary 2004, Giulio Andreotti, ‘The Extraordinary La Pira’, his speech given at the memorial service of Giorgio La Pira in the Palace of Montecitorio on February 25, 2004
6. See here
7. See here
8. Stalin’s words are quoted in A. Agosti, Palmiro Togliatti, Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1996, p. 373
9. Elena Agarossi and Victor Zaslavsky, Stalin and Togliatti: Italy and the Origins of the Cold War Cold War, Stanford University Press, 2011, have consulted thousands of unpublished documents from the Moscow Archives on the fate Italian political prisoners, who were largely militant anti-Fascists, communists, socialists, and anarchists before falling victim to Stalin's purges
10. Douglas Hyde, ‘Dangerous New Tactics in Italy’, Catholic Herald, September 2, 1955.
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part III - What Was La Pira Doing Behind the Iron Curtain?

by Dr. Carol Byrne

“I have come to pray for peace and unity for all people of the world,” Giorgio La Pira announced flamboyantly during his visit to the schismatic Zagorsk Monastery in the outskirts of Moscow in August 1959, adding that peace among all nations was his “only objective.” (1)

The fact that the original report of the visit was written by his journalist friend, Vittorio Citterich, who had already decided that he was a “saint in the Kremlin,”(2) does not inspire much confidence that there was any substance behind La Pira’s rhetoric – or indeed whether there was any truth in it at all.

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Giorgio la Pira peace initiative - a preamble to the Pact of Metz

Why, we may ask, did La Pira need to go to the capital of the USSR to pray for peace and unity? It is true that his trip to Russia was preceded by a visit to Fatima where he prayed that the prophecy of world peace would be fulfilled. But he always omitted any reference to the essential conditions for the fulfilment of that prophecy, namely the consecration of Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

Instead, he fantasized about Florence as the centre of a global network of cities to promote peace, with himself, of course, highlighted on the world stage as the instigator of this unique project.

The real reason for his “pilgrimage” to Russia is not difficult to discern. The Zagorsk monastery was the headquarters of the Russian “Orthodox” Church for ecumenical relations with other religions, particularly with Catholicism. Dorothy Day had it on her “must visit” list during her stay in Moscow (Catholic Worker, October-November 1971) but found it was off limits.

La Pira spoke at the Theological Academy which was housed in the monastery. It was a well-known venue for Soviet-sponsored conferences to promote “peace and cooperation among all nations.”

There, he took advantage of the opportunity to advertise Pope John XXIII’s intention to convene the Second Vatican Council. “The Pope is indeed a father who, with the calling of the Ecumenical Council, has opened his arms to all Christians and all peoples of the world,” he said to the Academy Rector. (3)

Then he told Metropolitan Nikolai that he had come as the “Marian bridge of prayer between Fatima and Moscow, the Churches of East and West.” (4)

A Bridge Too Far

Beneath this pious verbiage about bridges lies the false ecumenism denounced by previous Popes which, as subsequent events have shown, resulted in the betrayal of the Gospel and the rejection of traditional Catholicism. It seems that La Pira was more interested in advancing his own brand of politics than preserving the integrity of the Catholic Faith.

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To fool the West Communism promoted peace, symbolized by a dove by fellow communist Picasso

We need to keep in mind that the Russian “Orthodox” Church was a bureaucratic organization controlled by the KGB-infiltrated Council for Religious Affairs. It was – as Solzhenitsyn put it bluntly – a Church run by atheists.

It was also a communist front organization operating as a means of Soviet-manipulated Pacifism for political ends: it was used by Stalin and Khrushchev to win the confidence of Catholics in the West and soften their opposition to Communism.

La Pira’s “peace initiative” with Metropolitan Nikolai in 1959 can be regarded as a preamble to the Pact of Metz which ensured that Communism would not be condemned at Vatican II. It is significant that when La Pira spoke to the Soviet leaders in Moscow and urged them to get rid of State atheism, he did not ask them to give up Communism. That is because, like most progressivist Catholics, he believed that Communism, shorn of its atheism, represented not a danger but a great force for the liberation of humanity.

‘The dove that goes boom’(5)

What realistic chances were there for the success of La Pira’s “peace pilgrimage” to Moscow? In 1950 Metropolitan Nikolai was elected a member of the Permanent Committee of the World Peace Council, which was the major communist international front organization. It had been established by Stalin to promote the foreign policy aims of the Soviet Union by infiltrating and controlling peace organisations in Western countries.

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Above, a dove shaped as a tank ridicules the communist pretense of peace

As Chairman of the External Church Relations Department, both Nikolai and his successor, Archbishop Nikodim (who was to sign the Pact of Metz with the Vatican a few years later), were expected to toe the Party line, a role they carried out so successfully that they were highly valued by the KGB as agents of Russian “peace” propaganda.

But the call for peace and nuclear disarmament was simply a device calculated to deceive those who were unversed in the subtleties of communist propaganda, for the aim was always to disarm the USA and neutralize the nations of Western Europe while increasing Soviet military capability.

It was not just in military matters that the Russian Schismatic Church used Soviet “peace” propaganda to undermine the will to resist the advance of Communism. The same applied to the ecumenical contacts between the Russian Schismatics and the Vatican.

La Pira’s 1959 “peace pilgrimage” to Moscow was based on irrational assumptions of Soviet good will. But it coincided with the start of the wave of persecution against Catholics in the USSR under Khrushchev. During this time, Nikolai and his successor, Nikodim, managed to convince Western opinion (with Vatican collaboration) of the “friendly” face of Communism towards Catholicism.

In 1973, La Pira made another “pilgrimage” to Zagorsk, this time to meet Patriarch Pimen and Archbishop Nikodim for dialogue about “peace and unity.” The message from the Russian religious leaders was that “Christians should try to understand the positive aspects of the trend towards Socialism evident in many places.” (6) But for La Pira and the Russian Schismatics, “peace and unity” had a particular meaning – the removal of all obstacles in the way of Communism being accepted in the Catholic Church. The Pact of Metz lives on.

The Calculus of Risk Ignored by Catholic Communists

We can see from these examples of ecumenism in action how the “peace pilgrimages” changed the whole calculus of risk according to which the representatives of the Catholic Church had always approached contacts with potential enemies of the Faith. The result was that the Church and society were left open to infiltration by false religions and Communism.

Little wonder, then, that even communists voted La Pira into office as Mayor of Florence and President Gorbachev eulogized him for his efforts to “knock down walls and build bridges.” (7)


1. Catholic Herald, 28th August 1959
2. Citterich accompanied La Pira to Moscow and wrote a report of the visit in the Florentine Christian Democrat daily, Giornale del Mattino. He wrote several articles about La Pira and published a book entitled Un Santo al Cremlino: Giorgio La Pira, Edizioni Paoline in Torino, 1986. If La Pira was considered a living saint before he died, it was largely due to the hyperbolic reports of Vittorio Citterich.
3. Ibid., Catholic Herald, August 28, 1959
4. See here.
5. This was a 1951 anti-communist cartoon designed as a satire of Pablo Picasso’s “Dove of Peace” which was the symbol of the international communist “peace” movement. The cartoon depicted a dove in the form of a Soviet tank to expose the real motives behind Stalin’s “peace” propaganda.
6. Catholic Herald, 6 July 1973. This information was first published in the Osservatore Romano, 16 June 1973. 7. Quoted in Jonathon Luxmoore and Jolanta Babiuch, The Vatican and the Red Flag, Geoffrey Chapman, 1998, p. 164.
8. Gorbachev received the Giorgio La Pira Award for Culture and Peace in November 1999.
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part IV - La Pira’s Preferential Option for the Jews

by Dr. Carol Byrne

Among the most spectacular innovations of La Pira’s revolutionary profile was the “dialogue” that he conducted with major Jewish representatives not only in Florence but also on the international level. The year 1950 marked his historic encounter with Jewish historian Jules Isaac, the founder of the international Jewish-Christian Friendship movement.

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Jules Issac, left, and Giorgio La Pira, right, co-founded the JCFA in Florence to change the Church's position on the Jews

The immediate outcome of this “dialogue” was the establishment in Florence of the first Jewish-Christian Friendship Association of Italy with the backing of La Pira and Jules Isaac. (1) The avowed aim of this Association was to combat anti-Semitism, but this was not a problem in Italy at that time. Even the American Jewish Committee admitted that during that period “anti-Semitism in Italy did not exist on any significant scale.” (2)

So, what was the point of La Pira’s Isaac-inspired initiative? Just friendly dialogue? Hardly. This was startlingly innovative in itself because it involved the creation of an entire alternative world, the world of ecumenism, and a whole new theology of “relationships,” which stood in opposition to what the Catholic Church had always preached about relations with other religions.

La Pira’s activities in this area were supported by eminent Vatican figures: Archbishop Montini (later Pope Paul VI), Cardinals Journet, (3) Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII), Bea and Willebrands. These were the main Prelates who succeeded in gaining a critical mass of influence over all the participants at Vatican II and ensuring the safe passage of the document on the Jews, Nostra aetate, in the teeth of opposition from the traditional Bishops.

La Pira helps prepare the ground for Nostra aetate

With friends like these, La Pira was able to act as an underground agitator covertly working to convince the Catholic population that the real problem was not Judaism as a religion but rather the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding the Jews. He was not, of course, the only Catholic layman working behind the scenes with the Hierarchy before Vatican II to manipulate public opinion on the Jewish question. There were others such as Jacques Maritain, whose wife was of Jewish origin, pulling the strings as well.

It makes us shudder to see with hindsight the duplicity and cynical abuse of our trust by those who were conniving to undermine traditional Catholic doctrine and values. La Pira’s covert work became not only a blueprint for Nostra aetate, but also a catalyst for changes in the catechism, textbooks on theology and even the Good Friday liturgy of Paul VI’s New Mass.

La Pira’s involvement with Jewish interests was considerable and multi-faceted. In Florence alone, he never missed an opportunity to participate in and help organize Jewish ceremonies such as the celebration of the founding of the local synagogue or the signing of the golden book for the Jewish National Fund. (4)

And there was a political element involved as well: In order to demonstrate his personal recognition of the State of Israel, La Pira held a ceremony in December 1955 for his Jewish friends in the Palazzo Vecchio where he placed the Israeli flag alongside the Banner of Florence. (5)

All these extraordinary initiatives need to be seen in the context of future developments leading to the cataclysmic event of the 1960s – Vatican II – and the ensuing debacle that has been afflicting the Church ever since. It is only by examining the evidence of La Pira’s activities with Jewish representatives (6) that we can see what part he played in helping Vatican II to destroy the Church’s sense of her own identity.

And here we get to the core of La Pira’s profound belief that the Church is an all-inclusive society based on the brotherhood of man – or if she wasn’t, then she should be. In this way, he reflected the progressivist idea that the traditional Catholic teaching on the Jews was racist and anti-Semitic and would have to be changed.

La Pira’s collaboration with Jules Isaac

That was the basic aim of Jules Isaac, the Jewish lobby’s most influential spokesman who had been trying for years before Vatican II to change the Church’s Gospel-based doctrine on the Jews. Isaac sought and obtained an interview with Pope John XXIII on June 13, 1960. On that occasion he presented the Pope with his thesis that it was Catholic doctrine (he had coined the phrase “teaching of contempt”) that led to anti-Semitism and the horrors of the “Holocaust.”

In a breathtaking display of bullying arrogance, Isaac asked the Pope to “correct the errors” of the Catholic Faith and “purify” the Church of her “inherent anti-Semitism.” He proposed nothing less than a revision of the Gospels as well as the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church – a clear indication of Isaac’s own “teaching of contempt” for the Catholic Faith.

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John XXIII asked Cardinal Bea, left, to place the Jewish complaints in the Council's agenda

John XXIII, however, responded positively, assigning Card. Augustine Bea, S.J., who was then head of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, to place the issue on the Council's agenda. It was not until 1965 with the issuing of Vatican II’s Nostra aetate that Jules Isaac’s intervention finally succeeded. The result was that centuries of Catholic values enshrined in the Church’s doctrine, liturgy, legal system and institutions had to be altered to accommodate the demands of certain non-Catholic and even anti-Catholic individuals.

The implications of this covert act of treachery are shocking. What other religion is expected to provide its detractors with the opportunity to attack it? What other religion expects itself to make such a provision?

La Pira’s tribute to Jules Isaac

As president of Jewish-Christian Friendship Association, La Pira organized on his own initiative a conference in the Palazzo Vecchio on May 3, 1964, to commemorate Isaac’s achievements in the field of inter-faith activity. (7) The conference was attended by civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries representing different religions.

It is reported that La Pira described the late Prof. Isaac as “the founder and apostle of Hebrew-Christian friendship” and “called for the conference to be opened up to Jews, Christians and Moslems.” (8)  In a letter published in the Florence daily, Giornale del Mattino, he stated that the conference was an “act of worship of the Lord” and a “bond of grace, unity and peace for the three-fold family of Abraham.” (9)

Not content with this syncretist commemoration ceremony, La Pira collaborated with his Jewish friends to produce a dossier of Jules Isaac’s thesis and distributed it to each of the Council Fathers who were in session at Vatican II. Each copy was accompanied by a personal letter from La Pira instructing them on the “prophetic” nature of the conference and admonishing them to give it their particular attention. (10)

La Pira continued to conspire with his Jewish associates to change the Church’s age-old position on the Jews as my next article will show.


1. See the pamphlet Vent’Anni di Presenza in Città, p. 5 published by the Jewish-Christian Friendship Association of Torino, quoted here.
2. The AJC (American Jewish Committee) is the foremost Jewish organization in the US and describes itself as a “global Jewish advocacy” group. See here.
3. Luciano Martini (ed.), Giorgio La Pira e la vocazione di Israele (Giorgio La Pira and the Vocation of Israel), Florence: Giunti Editore, 2005, p. ix. The book consists of a collection of studies in Italian on La Pira’s relations with the Jews, and was published with the help of the La Pira Foundation to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.
4. Ibid., p, 79. This was the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Great Synagogue, the Tempio Maggiore of Florence. The golden book, also known by its Hebrew name, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, was established in 1948 to commemorate Chaim Weizmann, the first President of the State of Israel.
5. Ibid., pp, 79-80
6. Luciano Martini, using documents from the La Pira Archives, gives a detailed account of the correspondence between La Pira and several Florentine Jews. In them, La Pira worked to bring their demands for Church reform to the attention of the Catholic Hierarchy before Vatican II.
7. L. Martini, Giorgio La Pira e la vocazione di Israele, p. 76
8. AJR (Association of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain) Information, vol. 19 n. 6, June, 1964, p. 4. See here.
9. L. Martini, Giorgio La Pira, p. 76. La Pira wrote: “un atto di adorazione per il Signore ed un cimento di grazia, di unità et di pace per la triplice famiglia di Abramo”(This is an act of adoration of the Lord and a foundation of grace, unity and peace for the three-fold family of Abraham).
10.L. Martini, Giorgio La Pira, p. 77
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part V - Promoting Accusations of Anti-Semitism against the Church

by Dr. Carol Byrne

Continuing the theme of my last article, La Pira’s Preferential Option for the Jews, I note that Giorgio La Pira also exploited the anti-Catholic sentiments of another Jew, Salvatore Jona, who had assisted him in the foundation of the Jewish-Christian Friendship Association in Florence.

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La Pira, up for beatification, was a supporter of the Jewish attacks against the Church

Like Jules Isaac, Jona pursued a long vendetta against the Catholic Church. La Pira maintained a copious correspondence with Jona and received him warmly at the Palazzo Vecchio, listening at great length to his unfounded complaint that the Church was anti-Semitic in her 2000-year-old animosity of the Jewish race. (1)

La Pira then collaborated with Jona in producing a book, The Jews Did Not Kill Jesus, and even wrote the preface for it.(2)  It was published in April 1963 by a Florentine Jewish family firm during the sessions of Vatican II, with the intent of maximizing its impact on the Catholic community. La Pira not only had been collaborating with Jona on the content of the book since 1962, but also had been holding conferences in the Palazzo Vecchio to gain the widest possible support for the author.

La Pira, Joe Golan, & the WJC

Joe Golan (formerly Yosef Gouldin), the son of a Russian Zionist pioneer, was an Israeli Jew and a high-ranking member of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), (3) who worked as an agent of its president, Nahum Goldmann. La Pira came into contact with Golan in the 1950s during his Mediterranean travels, when the two became firm friends – or rather comrades-in-arms in their aim to change Catholic doctrine regarding the Jews by means of the upcoming Vatican Council.

In the years immediately preceding Vatican II, Golan played his part in the hate-fest that was being orchestrated against the Church to procure a radical revision of Catholic doctrine and liturgy. Isaac, Jona and Golan were part of a wider predatory group circling around the Church just before Vatican II and sizing up their chances, ready to move in for the kill when an opening presented itself.

Golan’s attacks on the Catholic Church repeated the same calumnious accusations of his co-religionists, asserting that her liturgy contained poisons which turned devout Catholics into Jew-haters. He referred in particular to the expression “perfidious Jews” in the Good Friday liturgy as an example of anti-Jewish hate speech and also objected to the Gospel accounts that affirmed Caiaphas and Judas had caused the death of Jesus.

Golan’s Roman strategy

Golan is on record as revealing that he was under instructions from Nahum Goldmann to use his personal contacts among Catholics to help him gain access to the Vatican, “particularly Card. Roncalli.” Golan stated that it was in the company of La Pira that he hatched his plan to bring his grievances to the Vatican with the intention of having them redressed. (4) This means that La Pira tacitly condoned and encouraged the de-Catholicizing of the Church’s doctrine and litury, and did so in collaboration with a WJC agent who was handpicked, trained and answerable to Nahum Goldmann.

After Golan introduced himself to Cardinals Tisserant, Lercaro and Bea as an emissary of Nahum Goldman, they used their influence with Pope John XXIII to remove the reference to “perfidious Jews.”(5)

The Mediterranean Conferences

In 1957 Golan approached La Pira and suggested he establish a series of Mediterranean Conferences for Cultural Affairs, ostensibly to promote peace among the Jewish and Arab peoples of Israel, Palestine and North Africa. But under the rubric of “conflict resolution,” Golan’s ambition was political: to increase Israeli influence in the emerging independence of surrounding nations and promote Jewish interests in them.

La Pira shared Golan’s opposition to European colonialism in the Mediterranean area. When he convened the first of the Conferences in 1958 in the Palazzo Vecchio, Golan was appointed to the most influential position as Secretary General. (6)

Meanwhile, while Golan engaged in a series of cynical political stunts that did not bring peace between the Arab and Israeli factions, La Pira continued to live in a fantasy world of promoting himself on the international level as an important figure in fostering rapprochement with the worlds of Judaism and Islam and establishing dialogue with them.

With stardust in his eyes, he wrote in May 1958 to his friend in the Vatican, Mgr. Dell’Acqua:

[Image: J053_Roncalli.jpg]

Roncalli gave his blessing to La Pira's work with the Jews

“The Mediterranean is ‘the lake of Tiberias’ of the new universe of nations; the nations that stand on the shores of this lake are nations who adore the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the true, living God… These nations and the lake that they surround constitute the religious and civil axis around which this new cosmos of nations is to revolve …” (7)

La Pira used erroneously the metaphor of the Lake of Tiberias to illustrate his theory that Jews and Muslims worship the same God as the Christians. It was inept because the Lake of Tiberias (otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee) was the location of many of Christ’s miracles, whereas Jews and Muslims do not believe in the Divinity of Christ.

But La Pira had something else in mind: to change the status of the Catholic Church as the only means of salvation. His emphasis on the convergence of the three Mediterranean religions – Christian, Islamic and Jewish – was an anticipation of Vatican II’s novel teaching on salvation outside the Catholic Church.

In September 1958, one month before the first Mediterranean Conference, La Pira invited the Patriarch of Venice, Card. Angelo Roncalli (soon to be elected Pope), who responded enthusiastically:

“Ever since the Lord directed my steps onto the paths of the world to meet men and peoples of such different inspiration and civilization from the Christian, something that has always been a great joy to us, I have divided the 'hours' of my Breviary in such a way as to embrace in my priestly, public, and official supplication, both the East and the West.  This is enough to indicate our good intentions, my dear Prof. La Pira, and my participation in your efforts as a true apostolate.” (8)

The bogus nature of this Conference for “peace and unity” is illustrated by the in-fighting and dissension that broke out among the Arab and Israeli delegates (9) which continues unabated to this day.


1. L. Martini, Giorgio La Pira e la vocazione di Israele, Florence: Giunti Editore, 2005, pp. 71-72.
2. Salvatore Jona, Gli Ebrei non hanno ucciso Gesù: Presentazione di Giorgio La Pira, Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1963. Leo Samuel Olschki was a Polish Jew who settled in Italy and set up a publishing house in Florence.
3. The World Jewish Congress was founded in 1936. Although its principal purpose was to defend the rights of Jews in the Diaspora, it always actively supported the aims of Zionism, i.e. creation of the State of Israel.
4. Jean Lacouture, Jesuits: A Multibiography, Counterpoint, 2003, pp. 440-41. The other conspirators in the group were Amintore Fanfani and Enrico de Mattei.
5. Ibid., pp. 440-441.
6. Mordechai Bar-On, In Pursuit of Peace: a History of the Israeli Peace Movement, US Institute of Peace Research Press, 1996, pp. 19-21. Among those who attended were Maurice Fisher, Israeli Ambassador to Italy, Reuven Barakat, a member of the Knesset, and Reuven Shiloah, founder of Mossad, the Israeli secret service agency.
7. See here
8. Mgr Albert Giovannetti, A Portrait of His Holiness John XXIII, Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1959, p. 168
9. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Daily News Bulletin, Vol. 25, no. 188, 6 October 1958, p. 2
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part VI - The Roots of La Pira's Revolutionary Agenda

by Dr. Carol Byrne

A brief excursion through the early years of La Pira’s career will bring to light the roots of his political thinking which later blossomed into a utopian agenda that reflected the basic characteristics of the Soviet model – State interventionism and coercion. We need to go back to the ‘20s and ‘30s when Mgr. Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) was the National Chaplain of the Italian Catholic Universities Federation (FUCI). He gathered around him a group of young and ardent radicals, including La Pira, whom he trained up to be not only the future leaders of Italian society, (1) but also the future shock troops of the Vatican II revolution in the Church.

The agenda for Montini’s program had already been set by his close friend and collaborator, Jacques Maritain, whose vision of a democracy based on Integral Humanism Montini adopted wholeheartedly. It was a philosophy that preached respect for secular values and religious pluralism. Its aim was to create a new Christian civilization of universal fraternity in which the laity, freed from ecclesiastical authority (but not, alas, total State control) would work with the help of all who shared “human values” to achieve the “common good.” La Pira drank deeply from this poisoned well which became the source of his whole outlook, as expressed in the many Conferences he later organized to find “the ground of a common, Christian and human civilization.”

The Dark Art of Deception

It is noteworthy that Montini was using his spiritual authority decades before Vatican II to preach this naturalistic world-view to his disciples, deceiving them into thinking that his revolutionary “new civilization of love” was a moral obligation drawn from the Gospels. In so doing, he stood condemned by Pope St. Pius X who had censured in Notre Charge Apostolique those who identified the Gospel with the Revolution. Montini’s student movement was evidently one of those “dark workshops” mentioned by Pius X “in which are elaborated these mischievous doctrines which ought not to seduce clear-thinking minds.”

Mischief and deceit were certainly elaborated in the secret meetings that La Pira attended at the Monastery of Camaldoli (2) just outside Florence in July 1943. It was none other than Mgr. Montini who had inaugurated these study weeks in Camaldoli for his FUCI graduates. (3) Among the participants were some prominent figures who had also been formed in the Montinian mould. These included:Italian prime ministers

[Image: J054_4Primes.jpg]

Four future Italian Premiers: Alcide de Gasperi, Amintore Fanfani, Aldo Moro and Giulio Andreotti who made alliances with Communists and Socialists;
  • Three economists: Sergio Paronetto, Ezio Vanoni and Paolo Emilio Taviani who favoured a State-planned economy and were later appointed as Cabinet Ministers;
  • Pasquale Saraceno, Guido Gonella, Mario Ferrari Aggradi, Enrico Mattei and Giorgio La Pira who occupied leading positions in government or corporations and wanted the State to control the economy and labor;
  • Pope Paul VI’s brother, Ludovico Montini, who was elected a Senator.

Together they formed a secret, conspiratorial inner circle to seize State power to achieve what they termed “social justice” and the “common good.” It is of the greatest significance that they all opposed free market Capitalism and favoured the Communist goals of direct State intervention in the economy to achieve “full employment.”

The Code of Camaldoli

With views such as these, it is only to be expected that the plan they masterminded in their cloistered seclusion at Camaldoli aimed to produce a new society based on a coercive system of social control operated by a bureaucratic elite. To this end, they framed the Code of Camaldoli, a document originally named Per la Comunità Cristiana (For the Christian Community), consisting of 99 propositions to change the political, economic and social order in Italy. They claimed that the Code was a “third way” between Capitalism and Communism, that it was based on the social teaching of the Church, and that it was the embodiment of the Gospels.

But an examination of its contents (4) reveals that it had more in common with the spirit of the Manifesto of Equals of Gracchus Babeuf, as its carefully crafted language masked the latter’s cruder calls for “real equality” and an end to social privilege, particularly in relation to private property.

In the ideal “Christian” society sought by La Pira and his confederates, the following stipulations were considered to be in conformity with the Gospels:

[Image: J054_Camaldol2.jpg]

The Monastery of Camaldoli where the meetings of Montini's disciples took place to plan a Socialist Italy

Article 11 called for the creation of social conditions to eliminate privilege arising from wealth, social class or education. (5)

Article 71 took “class war” as its point of departure. It affirmed that the ruling principle of economic life was no longer the rights of the individual but “la giustizia sociale” (“social justice”) which was to be achieved by an equal distribution of goods. (6)

Article 76 specifically undermined private ownership of the means of production;(7) if the owner was considered not to conform to the framers’ idea of the “common good,” i.e., if he has used his property to enrich himself, he could have his right to ownership curtailed.

Article 80 recommended State intervention to limit the consumption and use of goods and the accumulation of wealth. (8)

Article 86 aimed at the elimination of “excessive” economic disparities between citizens and at the transmission/distribution of goods among everyone. It accused the minority of rich people of exercising a despotic power over the economy. (9)

Article 88 attempted to justify State intervention in the economy on the mistaken grounds that the State, rather than private owners, can be trusted to produce fairer outcomes (utilità maggiore): wealth should not be left in the hands of individuals (nelle mani dei singoli).

Article 91 was the equivalent of Marx’s dictum “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Article 93 envisaged the imposition of taxes to soak the rich as the principal means of the redistribution of wealth (10)

There was even a clause to legitimize civil disobedience in matters that conflicted with the Code, and another to encourage the practice of working mothers.

An Antithesis of the Gospel

Far from being the embodiment of the Gospels, what all this reflects is a bundle of old prejudices originating in the mindset that produced the French Revolution and was later popularized by Karl Marx. The Code represents a pattern of thinking that emanates from a visceral hostility to private capital and investment and that regards government means of economic organization as superior to free enterprise. If enacted in legislation, it would mean forcibly overriding the voluntary decisions of consumers and savers, violating their property rights and their freedom of association in order to realize the national government’s economic ambitions.

[Image: J054_Fan-Pira.jpg]

Above, Fanfani embraces La Pira, Florence 1958;
Below, Kruschev welcomes Fanfani, Moscow 1961

The drive for totalitarian solutions has always exercised a strong appeal among certain groups with a progressivist agenda. The Code of Camaldoli is, therefore, not inspired by the Gospel but by the antithesis of the Gospel – the lust for power not only to rule the kingdoms of this world but to shape them in the image of their own political opinions and prejudices. Unfortunately, this mentality is deeply rooted in the Church and reflects trends that have been accelerating for decades in the ranks of Catholic Action since the publication of Rerum Novarum (1891). The revival of the Distributist Movement is a case in point.

Even Pope Benedict XVI was drawn, wittingly or unwittingly, into the orbit of the Camaldoli Code. With reference to the monastery in which the Code was drawn up, the Pope stated that, “those same cloisters were the setting for the birth of the famous Code of Camaldoli, one of the most significant sources of the Constitution of the Italian Republic.” (11) It was also the basis for the Christian Democrat Party.

This statement shows the survival of the heirs to the old doctrinaire anti-capitalist consensus that framed Italy’s 1948 Constitution, particularly in its sections on social and economic relationship. But did the Pope know that Palmiro Togliatti, the Secretary of the Communist Party of Italy, had participated together with La Pira in the assembly that framed the Constitution of the Republic of Italy in 1948? If so, he certainly showed no apprehension that Socialism would be the natural consequence, the entirely predictable result, if the Code of Camaldoli were ever taken to its logical conclusion of concentration of all political power in the State.

In the next installment, we will be looking at ways in which La Pira harnessed the Camaldoli Code and drove it like a coach and four through the municipality of Florence during his various tenures as Mayor.


1. Many members of FUCI (Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana) became statesmen and/or leaders of the Democratic Party;
2. The Monastery was founded in the 11th century by St. Romuald, a Benedictine monk. It is now a centre for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue;
3. Mgr John Clancy, Apostle for our Time: Pope Paul VI, Collins, 1964, p. 43 (Also Avon, 1963, Ulan Press, 2012);
4. See Nico Perrone, Il dissesto programmato: Le partecipazioni statali nel sistema di consenso democristiano, Dedalo, 1991, pp. 14-20;
5. The rights of individuals and families are supposedly guaranteed but only “in modo che siano eliminate le situazioni di privilegio derivanti da differenze di classe, di ricchezza, di educazione” [in a way that elliminates privileged situations deriving from class, wealth and education differences] i.e. they are subjected to the iron rule of egalitariansim;
6. “per cui non possa un individuo o una classe escludere altri dalla partecipazione ai beni comuni” [by which an individual or a class cannot exclude any other from his participation in the common good];
7. The State can intervene “escludendo che date categorie di beni strumentali possano essere oggetto di proprietà privata” oppure ponendo delle limitazioni a tale diritto” [to exclude that some categories of instrumental goods might be object of private property or to put limits to such a right];
8. With regard to the consumption and use of goods (“beni di consumo e di godimento” [goods of consumme or pleasure]), the State can impose restrictions on their possession by individuals: “una limitazione nel loro uso e nel loro accumulo” [a limit to their use and saving];
9. “Un buon sistema economico deve evitare l'arricchimento eccessivo che rechi danno a un'equa distribuzione; e in ogni caso deve impedire che attraverso il controllo di pochi su concentramenti di ricchezza, si verifichi lo strapotere di piccoli gruppi sull'economia.” [A good economic system must avoid the excessive wealth which brings harm to a equal distribution; at any rate it must avoid that by means of the control of a few over the concentration of weath an increased power of small groups may happen in economy];
10. “una redistribuzione di beni disponibili” [a re-distribution of the disposible goods];
11. Homily 10 March 2012 at an ecumenical gathering in the monastery with Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury -original here.
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part VII - The Draconian Socialist Activity of the ‘Humble’ La Pira

by Dr. Carol Byrne

In the previous article, we saw how the upper echelons of post-war Italian politics were infiltrated by placemen, mostly disciples of Msgr. Montini’s Catholic Action program. They had secretly conspired in the Monastery of Camaldoli to achieve the ideal communist society of state ownership of property and universal compulsory labor (a.k.a. “full employment”).

[Image: J055_Fanfani58.jpg]

Fanfani, La Pira and Adlai Stevenson at Camaldoli Monastery planning for a Socialist Italy & Church

Before he became Mayor of Florence, Giorgio La Pira worked as Undersecretary of Labor in the Ministry of Employment and Social Insurance, which was headed by his friend Amintore Fanfani. Like his fellow Camaldolians, Fanfani had an aversion to a free market economy and believed that the State should provide jobs for everyone, that it should have exclusive control of the most important businesses, and that it should take legal sanctions against private entrepreneurs to prevent them from becoming too rich.

It was obvious that private enterprise would not be respected in a country where successive Prime Ministers, holders of key Cabinet positions, had been through the Montini mill. In the words of La Pira himself: “You must change everything in Italy, introduce a planned economy and radically change the country’s political personnel.” (1)

The Path to Tyranny

Few people realized at the time – and fewer are aware even now – that the Montini circle constituted a well-developed network which had become so integrated with the political institutions of the country that it could make a concerted attack against private owners of the means of production.

That explains how the “holy mayor” La Pira got away with behaving like a typical Marxist autocrat by presiding over the attempted Stalinization of Florence while enjoying all the impunity that a corrupt state apparatus and a manipulated political system could provide. We shall see how he conducted a bullying campaign against private entrepreneurs, seizing their businesses, requisitioning their homes, withdrawing their passports, and denouncing them to the Pope for allegedly oppressing the poor.

It is, of course, deeply shocking to see a supposedly Catholic government conniving at the social attitudes of its political opponents, the communists, and even adopting some of their tactics. But this paradox is lost on the Catholic Left in general.

Political Cronyism in Action

The tightness of the grip exerted by Montini’s men on Italian society can be illustrated by La Pira’s involvement in the “Pignone case.” His supporters call it the pièce de résistance of his career “with which La Pira forever linked his name” (see here). In reality it was for his everlasting shame.

[Image: J055_Pignone53.jpg]

La Pira stimulated  strikes at Pignone industrial plant, here led by Mattei who headed the takeover

Pignone was an industrial plant in Florence that had flourished during the war but experienced financial difficulties due to a slump in demand for its products. When the president of the firm that owned Pignone, Franco Marinotti, decided to lay off some of the workers in 1953, La Pira lost no time in backing a communist-led strike of the whole workforce.

We learn from a contemporary newspaper report that the strike leader, Franco Fantini, a worker at Pignone, was dismissed for having participated in a Communist Party meeting. The object of the strike was to deprive private owners of their means of production: A photo of the strike shows a banner bearing the words “The law of expropriation must be approved by Parliament” (see here).

La Pira found that acceptable and attended Mass with the workers in the occupied factory in defiance of Pope Pius XII’s recently issued decree against collaboration with communists. The Mass was said by the first worker-priest in Italy, Fr. Bruno Borghio, who claimed he had permission to do so from Card. Dalla Costa, Archbishop of Florence. (2)

According to his progressivist friend, Fr. Ernesto Balducci, La Pira wrote to all the Bishops in Italy, sending them a copy of his correspondence with Marinotti. (3) He even made a special plea to the Pope for his intervention in the strike.

It is of the greatest significance that the reply from the papal household came from the pen of “yours truly,” Msgr. Montini, assuring the workers of his “paternal interest” and rebuking the company owners for failing to assure the livelihood of the workers and their families. (4) The implication is that the workers were pawns in a “culture of victimization” and needed to be liberated from the unjust “oppression” of private entrepreneurs. This image is essentially that of the “class struggle” promoted by Karl Marx.

With the support of the Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Dalla Costa and Msgr. Montini, La Pira felt justified in calling on his friend, Fanfani, who was then Minister of Internal Affairs, to intervene. The latter issued an order to the company to halt the layoffs and, in a gesture worthy of Stalin himself, sent the police to Marinotti’s house and withdrew his passport. (5)

Moral Inversion: The Glorification of Shabby Deeds

The whole sordid affair was recorded in the collected letters of La Pira and Fanfani taken from the archives of the Giorgio La Pira Foundation. We learn from a November 1953 letter from Fanfani to La Pira that the pair was jubilant over its success. The letter registered their satisfaction with the action taken against Marinotti: They regarded it as a fulfilment of the verse in the Magnificat that states: “He hath put down the mighty from their seat and exalted the humble.”

Fanfani went so far as to describe the Magnificat as “the true song of democracy.” (6) And La Pira crowed that the Pignone triumph was Matthew 25 transposed into modern times. (7)

A Cynical Government Takeover

With no passport and a strike-bound factory, Marinotti had no option but to submit to the next round of injustice – the seizure of Pignone by Fanfani at La Pira’s request.

This was a clear case of corruption, for La Pira’s influence on Fanfani when the latter was Secretary of the Christian Democratic Party (1954 to 1959) was a fact known to many at the time.(8)

Political Patronage

But the political sleaze gets worse: The person to whom Fanfani – again at La Pira’s request – handed over the Pignone Company was Enrico Mattei, a fellow conspirator who had participated at the Camaldoli Conference in 1943.

[Image: J055_Mattei.jpg]

Mattei & La Pira worked arm in arm for a State Socialism

Like Fanfani, he had been elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1948 and had established a faction within the Christian Democrat Party. While in Parliament, Fanfani and Mattei pushed through a bill to establish the state-owned oil consortium, ENI, of which he became President. (9)

A contemporary report noted: Mattei has become the symbol of a vigorous new State Socialism of the type which has long appealed to the logical Latin mind. He carries the banner for a large group, perhaps a majority, of Italians who think that by a judicious use of public monies some of the grave shortcomings of Capitalism can be corrected. (10)

Mattei used that state-owned company’s resources (and taxpayers’ money) to influence national policies in support of domestic and foreign operations and to finance political parties, including the socialists. (11) In fact, ENI became so powerful and exercised such a degree of autonomy that it was regarded as a “State within a State.” It is worth noting that, through the Pignone affair, little La Pira, “humble” and “poor,” had played a part in helping ENI to become a formidable instrument of political rule.

To be continued

1. Catholic Herald, 2 September 1955 (See here);
2. See Neera Fallaci, Dalla parte del'ultimo - Vita del prete Lorenzo Milani, Milano Libri Edizioni, 1974, pp. 300-301; see also here
3. Fr. Ernesto Balducci, a Piarist priest, was a political activist in Florence. He made a career out of disobedience to his Bishop, Msgr. Florit, who made him leave Florence in 1963. He stayed until 1965 in Rome where he enjoyed the protection of Pope Montini. The latter used his influence to override the wishes of the Bishop of Florence and restore Fr. Balducci. Fr. Balducci produced a radical magazine, Testimonianze (Testimonies) that supported the reforms of Vatican II.
4. “Proteger y defender el pan y el trabajo para tantos hogare” [To protect and guarantee bread and work for many homes]. Quoted in Fr. Ernesto Balducci, Giorgio La Pira, Acción Cultural Cristiana, Salamanca, 2002, pp. 45-46.
5. Francesco Malgeri, La stagione del centrismo. Politica e società nell'Italia del secondo dopoguerra (1945-1960), Soveria Mannelli, 2002, p. 319. Fanfani authorized the Prefect of Florence (the government’s representative in the Provinces) to withdraw Marinotti’s passport.
6. Fanfani wrote to La Pira: “Ti sono particolarmente grato di aver concluso con il ricordo del 'Magnificat.' Io ho sostenuto che esso è il vero canto della democrazia: disperse i superbi ed esaltò gli umili.” [I am especially grateful to you for remembering the Magnificat in your conclusion. I have sustained that it is the true hymn of democracy: to put down the mighty and exalt the humble.] Ettore Barnabei, in Sara Selmi e Sebastiano Nerozzi, Caro Giorgio, Caro Amintore: Carteggio 1951-1977, 25 anni di storia nel carteggio La Pira-Fanfani, Polistampa, 2003
7. From a letter to Franco Marinotti quoted in Ernesto Balducci, op. cit., p. 45
8. Giorgio Galli, La Sfida perduta: biografia politica di Enrico Mattei, Bompiani, Milan, 1976, p. 107
9. Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (National Hydrocarbons Agency)
10. “Un buon sistema economico deve evitare l'arricchimento eccessivo che rechi danno a un'equa distribuzione; e in ogni caso deve impedire che attraverso il controllo di pochi su concentramenti di ricchezza, si verifichi lo strapotere di piccoli gruppi sull'economia.” [A good economic system must avoid the excessive wealth which brings harm to a equal distribution; at any rate it must avoid that by means of the control of a few over the concentration of weath an increased power of small groups may happen in economy];
11. Harper’s Magazine, March 1961
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part VIII - Helping Communist Interests at Vatican II

by Dr. Carol Byrne

When considering the proposed canonization of La Pira, we need to continually ask ourselves: What is the elevated cause for which La Pira truly dedicated his life?

The smell worsens around the canonization process when we consider the following evidence of his complicity in Enrico Mattei’s corrupt business practices and how he used his position as Mayor of Florence to boost the business interests of Mattei who was close to all the key figures in the Italian government. It will become evident that the not-so-elevated cause of power politics was the motivating force in his friendship with Enrico Mattei.

[Image: J056_MedTour.jpg]

La Pira worked for ENI on his Mideast ‘pilgrimages,’ above, with the Saudi Arabian King in 1962

La Pira’s supporters affirm: “The friendship between La Pira and Mattei was always close, from the latter’s intervention in favor of the Pignone to their action in common with regard to the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean.”

The background to the friendship is interesting. Under cover of his “Mediterranean Conferences,” La Pira acted as an unofficial emissary of the Italian government to pave the way for ENI’s lucrative deals with the oil-producing countries, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and the Middle East. He initiated “diplomatic” contacts with rulers such as Sultan Mohammed V of Morocco and President Nasser of Egypt whose trade deals helped make ENI one of the largest oil companies in the world.

It comes as no surprise to find that the first Mediterranean Conference (October 1958) was financed by Mattei and enthusiastically supported by Mgr Montini. (1) Both stood to gain: Mattei won contracts for exploration and production rights in the relevant Mediterranean countries, and Montini advanced his “integral humanism” towards a new theology, a new “civilization of love” and eventually a new liturgy for a new Church.

The Algerian Revolution

While La Pira was hypocritically engaged in his diplomatic parleys – allegedly for the purposes of “peace and harmony among the Mediterranean nations” – he demonstrated his support for the revolutionaries who were violently overthrowing French rule in Algeria. He authorized the presence at his 1958 Conference of one of the leaders of the anti-colonial movement, Ahmed Boumendjel, a high official in the terrorist organization, the National Liberation Front. This caused a diplomatic incident between Italy and France which was heightened by the discovery that Mattei was fomenting hostilities and endorsing terrorism by financing the rebellion.

Both La Pira and Mattei saw the anti-colonial movement through commercial lenses: it was, for Italy, a politically advantageous way of exploiting the Algerian oil fields and its natural gas reserves while taking them away from the French.

To help Mattei to build his own empire and extend state power is bad enough, but to further enrich a magnate who was already one of the best remunerated businessmen in the public sector is another example of La Pira’s hypocrisy. It clashes with his preaching about the necessity for “evangelical poverty.”

Economic Dialogue with the Communists

Similarly, La Pira’s 1959 visit to the Soviet Union was productive for Mattei, who brokered an agreement with Khrushchev for the supply of crude oil and natural gas to ENI.

[Image: J056_Mattei2.jpg]

Mattei, left, signs an oil agreement with Russia in 1962

We can conclude that the real “Bridge between East and West” that La Pira was referring to was commercial and his “fraternal cooperation” was also economic, as evidenced in the construction of a gas pipeline extending from Russia to Italy to deliver fuel to ENI. (Click here for a photo of the gas pipeline or so-called “bridge” of fraternity being constructed between the two nations.)

The Socialist Basis of Vatican-Moscow Relations

At the beginning of this series it was shown that La Pira was the link between the Kremlin and the Vatican to procure the non-condemnation of Communism at Vatican II. Now we can see the incontrovertible evidence that the whole idea of communist participation in the Council and the “thaw” in Vatican-Kremlin relations had been initiated by La Pira and discussed with the Russian Ambassador to Italy, Semyen Kozyrev, as early as 1960.

[Image: J056_Council.jpg]

La Pira, second to left, at a prepatory conference for the Council. To his right is Card. Danielou

Recently published declassified documents from the State Archives of the Russian Federation show the central role played by La Pira. (2) They include a transcript of his conversation taken from the Kozyrev’s diary, dated July 27, 1962 – i.e. a month before the infamous Pact of Metz – in which La Pira guaranteed the support of Pope John XXIII for a communist presence at the Council. (3) On that occasion, he also assured Kozyrev that no criticism or hostile comments would be made about the Soviet Bloc countries. (4)

The same archival source uncovers the basis of the Russian-Vatican accord. No condemnation of the USSR could be made for the following reason: Alexei Kosygin, President Gronchi and Enrico Mattei had pledged to forge a massive deal over the supply of crude oil and gas to Italy that would not only boost the Soviet economy but break the hegemony of the privately owned multi-national oil companies, particularly those of the USA, in the global market. (5)

La Pira’s ideal of “breaking down walls and building bridges” was mentioned in the documents and accepted by Kozyrev as an euphemism for the politically motivated deal. (6)

When Cardinal Tisserant and the Metropolitan Nikodim signed the Pact of Metz, they were really only ratifying a political deal which had been initiated by La Pira, sealed by the representatives of the USSR and Italy, Kozyrev and Kosygin, Prime Minister Fanfani, President Gronchi and Enrico Mattei, and blessed by Pope John XXIII to the great satisfaction of Msgr. Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.


1. Pietro Domenico Giovanni, ‘Dalla «civiltà cristiana» alle «civiltà teologali» Note su Giorgio La Pira e le Genesi dei Colloqui mediterranei’, in Alessandro Cortesi (Ed.), Europa e Mediterraneo, Nerbini, Florence, 2008, p. 165
2. See Pietro Neglie, La Stagione del Disgelo: Il Vaticano, l'Unione Sovietica e la politica di centro-sinistra in Italia (1958-1963), Cantagalli, 2010
3. In response to La Pira’s proposition as spokesman for the then Prime Minister, Amintore Fanfani, Kozyrev commented: “L' idea fondamentale di Fanfani resta la possibilità di una intermediazione fra Oriente e Occidente, in primo luogo fra Urss e Usa. L' Italia, secondo Fanfani, deve diventare un ponte fra i due campi. Papa Giovanni è a conoscenza di tali aspirazioni di Fanfani e le approva” [The fundamental idea of Fanfani is the possibility of mediation between East and West, principally between the USSR and the USA. Italy, according to Fanfani, should become the bridge between the two blocks. Pope John is aware of Fanfani’s aspirations and approves them]. In fact, La Pira was known among the Soviets as “vicinissimo al Papa” - very close to the Pope: (ibid., p. 133)
4. These are the words of Kozyrev: “La Pira mi ha fatto capire chiaramente che la parte italiana mette in relazione ... la visita di Kruscev con il successo del Concilio” and “non vi sarà alcun affondo contro i Paesi socialisti.” [La Pira let me understand clearly that the Italians link ... the visit of Khrushchev with the success of the Council] (ibid., p. 171)
5. In a transcript of the negotiations between Kosygin and Mattei, the latter is recorded as saying that he wanted to eliminate competition from the major oil producers: “Alleggerire la presenza in Europa e in Africa delle grandi compagnie internazionali del mercato petrolifero che fanno parte del Cartello come Standard Oil, British Petroleum, Shell [To diminish the presence in Europe and Africa of the great international oil companies that belong to the cartel, such as Standard Oil, British Petroleum, Shell].” (ibid., pp. 161-2)
6. Ibid., p. 170
La Pira: A Catholic Communist

Part IX - Moving in for Industry Takeovers

by Dr. Carol Byrne

The Pignone affair was La Pira’s first test case in the application of Article 76 of the ‘Code of Camaldoli,’ which called for state intervention to control, curtail and even exclude private ownership of the means of production (factories, corporations, banks etc) in which private capital is invested.

Montini’s men move in

It follows that state control is necessary to achieve this outcome for the whole of society. This is a recipe for totalitarian Socialism. All who had participated in the semi-clandestine meeting at Camaldoli in 1943 were ready to launch a coordinated offensive against free market Capitalism in the 1950s.

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La Pira explaining his communist ideals to Thomas Merton at Camaldoli Monastery

To this end, Fanfani set up the Ministry of the State Holdings in order to extend the influence of the government in the public sector, and he appointed several of his Camaldoli friends as Cabinet Ministers. (1)

This was designed not only to give the Christian Democrats more power over nationalized industries but also to increase government shareholding – and control – in private companies. La Pira could now carry out his vendetta against private entrepreneurs under cover of the big guns.

La Pira takes on Confindustria

La Pira raised a furor in Florence in the 1950s when he engaged in a protracted newspaper controversy with Angelo Costa, President of Confindustria, the Italian Manufacturers’ Association. The debate was acrimonious: Costa was an advocate of free market Capitalism while La Pira favored complete state intervention in the economy.

It ended on May 1, 1958, with La Pira’s letter to Pope Pius XII in which he denounced private entrepreneurs like Costa as too “greedy and impure” to be allowed to “hold the levers of the economy.” (But he never condemned the unscrupulous behavior of the socialist businessman, Enrico Mattei, whose sense of morality left much to be desired.) In the same letter, he criticized the free market as a “poison of civilization,” “the cause of Communism” and a “social cancer,” and announced his aim to “change the economic structures.”

A New Concept of Property

La Pira proclaimed: “An industry does not belong only to the capitalists who finance it,” elucidating the point by adding:

“Times have changed and the laws that govern Italy are no longer adapted to a modern society. There must be a new concept of property. A workman's skill and his right to work are property which must be protected by the law.” (2)

What La Pira was arguing for here was a change in the law to reflect a new concept of property: compulsory co-ownership by the workers. This was in accordance with the ‘Code of Camaldoli,’ which aimed to revolutionize the workplace by eliminating the role of captains of industry and replacing it with state control and self-managed cooperatives.

La Pira called this Social Justice, but the result would be to prevent the private owner from exercising his rights over what was legally his. Not only would this be a form of theft and, therefore, contrary to the Natural Law, but the notion that workers have a right (apart from to receive a just wage) to participate in the ownership of the capitalist production is not part of Catholic Social doctrine.

In fact, the very opposite pertains: The Church teaches that the law should be used “to prevent and to punish injury, and to protect every one in the possession of his own.” (Rerum Novarum, n. 37)

La Pira Joins Forces with a Communist Trade Union

Flushed with success after his victory over the Pignone factory, La Pira targeted a number of firms throughout Florence who were laying off workers.

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La Pira encouraged strikers at LeCure Foundry, which became a cooperative

These included some of the oldest and most respected institutions in the city: Manetti and Roberts (pharmaceuticals) and Richard Ginori (porcelain) in 1954, the Le Cure Foundry in 1955 and the Galileo factory (optical instruments) in 1959.

Like Pignone, these establishments had been infiltrated by the communist trade union, CGIL (General Confederation of Italian Workers), which was militating for a general strike in Florence that would seriously hamper the local economy.

Former Prime Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti, recalled that La Pira used the Le Cure Foundry as a weapon in his fight against private entrepreneurs. He quoted La Pira saying: “The Le Cure Foundry will be a real stronghold of resistance to injustice and we shall see who wins.” (3) La Pira did win, but injustice was on his side: He simply requisitioned the Company and turned it into a cooperative.

The Galileo Takeover

The sit-in strike at the Galileo factory in 1959 was a protest against threatened redundancies. It was a virtual re-run of the Pignone strike, with input from the same communist trade union, CGIL, and had an identical outcome.

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La Pira congratulating strikers at Pignone

Long before the strike, the Galileo workers had pledged their support for a mass workers’ struggle against employers: They displayed banners with Marxist slogans such as “The workers of Galileo will always be on the side of the fighting workers.” (4)

We have two detailed contemporary eye-witness accounts of La Pira’s involvement. These witnesses were both natives of Florence: La Pira’s worker-priest friend, Don Bruno Borghi (who had said the Mass for the strikers in the Pignone factory in 1954) and Sergio Lepri, Editor of Florence’s Giornale del Mattino, who had covered the strike in the late 1950s.

Borghi’s account shows that La Pira telephoned him to announce his arrival at the Galileo factory and gain admittance past the pickets. Once inside, La Pira conducted a tour of the factory to check on the adequacy of the strikers’ accommodation and to attend a Mass celebrated by Borghi. But the police had to intervene to quell the violence connected with the event.

According to Lepri, when the Company directors complained to the Prime Minister about La Pira’s intrusion into their premises, Fanfani replied jocosely that he “did not have the power to prevent a Mayor from hearing Mass wherever he wished.” Lepri mentions a telegram sent by La Pira to Fanfani demanding that entrepreneurs who lay off workers be punished by losing their own jobs. (5) As Lepri noted, the strikers emerged victorious and the dispute ended with the Company being absorbed into Mattei’s emporium, the ENI.

The outcome was entirely to be expected. Fanfani aimed to swallow up as many privately owned firms as possible into the public sector, so he gave La Pira a free pass to abuse his professional powers as Mayor. Fanfani’s ‘little helper’ was in his element encouraging resentment towards the rich and condoning attempts to deprive them of their possessions.

And Borghi had the written support of the Archbishop of Florence, Msgr Dalla Costa, (6) as well as the general approval of Msgr. Montini – the future Paul VI - for worker priests and their pro-communist agenda.


1. E.g. Ezio Vanoni (Finance Minister and then Minister of the Budget), who introduced a progressive income tax to severely reduce profits made by private entrepreneurs; and Giorgio Bo – a disciple and friend of Montini from his FUCI days – who was appointed by Fanfani as the Minister of State Holdings and Minister of Industry and Commerce.
2. Catholic Herald, January 29, 1954
3. Giulio Andreotti, “The extraordinary La Pira,” 30 Days, February 2004. Andreotti was Minister of the Interior in the 1950s. )
4. I lavoratori della Galileo saranno sempre al fianco dei lavoratori in lotta!
5. La Pira is quoted as stating that said entrepreneurs “dovrebbero essere puniti in un solo modo e cioè mettendo i licenziatori al posto dei licenziati.”
6. A copy of his letter of 2 November 1958 to Don Lorenzo Milani in support of the Galileo strike(and La Pira’s reply) is found in Neéra Fallaci, Dalla parte dell’ultimo. Vita del prete Lorenzo Milani, Milano Libri Edizioni, 1974, pp. 300-301
La Pira: A Catholic Communist
Part X - An Aggressive Enemy of Private Property

As we have seen in the previous article, business owners in Florence had reason to be alarmed by La Pira’s collusion with communists in his radical agenda to kill private enterprise and to make workers increasingly dependent on the State. Now we shall see how he continued eating away at the foundation of private property by moving seamlessly from persecuting the “employer class” to attacking that other bugbear of socialists: the “landlord class.”

In Florence of the 1950s, owners of more than one house or even spare rooms became an easy target for requisitioning purposes on behalf of the poor. In La Pira’s view (influenced by the Code of Camadoli, which he helped to create), such properties were considered surplus to requirements and liable to expropriation for the “common good.” Just as he called for employers to be sacked for laying off workers, so he regarded real estate investors as the “villains” to be punished for making profits from their own properties.

Property and Plunder

In fact, no property, large or small, public or private, was safe under La Pira’s administration. Giulio Andreotti, former Prime Minister of Italy, recalled that when he was Minister of the Interior in the 1950s, he had to send in the police to prevent La Pira from requisitioning the tax offices to house the homeless. (1) La Pira even gave the Deputy Mayor’s coat to the poor, telling him “You can buy another one!” (2) His friend and supporter, Archbishop Dalla Costa of Florence, evidently approved of the theft as the application of “the Gospel's word: ‘he who has two mantles, should give one of them to those who have none.’”

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Under the pretext of helping the poor La Pira promoted Socialism

Unsurprisingly, La Pira exhibited exactly the same mentality in February 1953, when he issued an order in his capacity as Mayor of Florence to requisition privately owned houses – with immediate effect and without compensation – and gave them to the poor. For this he earned the undying admiration of the Catholic Communist, Dorothy Day, who later visited him and praised what she termed his “direct action” (Catholic Worker, October 1963) – a watchword among anarchists for radical social change that by-passes the rule of law.

Was His Requisitioning of Homes Justified in Catholic Teaching?

It is true that there were poor and homeless people in Florence and that the Church teaches that in extreme cases where there is lack of basic necessities such as food, shelter or clothing to sustain life the needy can legitimately take these things from those who have in abundance. One is not, however, entitled to take these necessities if they could be provided through one’s own work or through the voluntary assistance of others, whether municipal agencies or private charities. Not all of these avenues were considered by La Pira before proceeding to his ad hoc action.

When faced with a national emergency, such as the results of wartime bombing, governments are empowered to requisition unoccupied private homes for short-term lease to the homeless and pay due compensation to the owners. But La Pira’s initiative came in 1953 at the peak of Italy’s postwar reconstruction program, which was well on the way to alleviating the nation’s housing problem. As Minister of Labor (1947-1948 and again from 1948-1950), Fanfani developed the “Fanfani house” program for low-cost government-built workers’ homes, which were partly subsidized by employers’ contributions – a fact unacknowledged by La Pira.

It is evident that the housing situation in Florence, though meriting serious concern, did not call for the enactment of requisition laws applicable in “large scale national emergencies” as Giampaolo Meucci, one of the La Pira’s supporters claimed. It was La Pira’s short-sighted policy of rent controls to keep rents well below the market value that contributed to the housing shortage in Florence.

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Marxist friend Meucci, at right, brought up to La Pira an outdated law to expropriate renting houses

It meant that landlords could not make an adequate profit and were driven from the housing market. La Pira then made them out to be heartless tyrants for evicting their tenants. By setting tenant against landlord, La Pira fanned the flames of social hatred and class struggle. He thus made it easy for people to believe that private owners deserve to be punished by having their properties taken from them and given to the poor.

La Pira the Anarchist

La Pira once described himself as an “anarchist, subject only to God,” and went on to explain what he meant by this: that he enjoyed “total freedom” and “permanent exemption” from obeying the laws of the land because they represented not justice but “forms of oppression” of the poor through “the inequalities that are hidden under the veils of the law.”

In true Liberation Theology fashion, he saw his mission as freeing the workers and the poor from the “exploitation” of the rich and powerful, taking his cue directly from his own interpretation of the Gospels. But by setting up a false dichotomy between “human rights” and property rights, La Pira was able to violate property instead of protecting it.

Was La Pira’s Requisitioning Policy Legal?

La Pira’s interpretation of the law was based on a particular ideology and as such cannot be said to be objective. Time Magazine (August 13, 1956) was correct in noting La Pira’s “cheerful disregard for legality.” This was confirmed by Dorothy Day after her interview with La Pira when she reported that in his requisition of houses the jolly Mayor had been “bending the law to suit his purposes.” (Catholic Worker, May 1966) He often scorned the law not so much to help the poor but, crucially, to harm the interests of the rich. Thus he felt justified in doing what ordinary citizens could not do without committing a crime: taking by force the property that does not belong to them.

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La Pira: A demagogue misreading Catholic doctrine to spread the socialist agenda of Montini's group

His supporters state that he dusted off an old regulation of 1865, which allowed requisitioning of houses and applied it to the situation in Florence. But this raises more questions than it answers. Why should La Pira resort to an outdated law (3) when he had at his disposal Article 835 of the Civil Code of 1942, which allowed the requisition of property?

If we examine the historical background of the 1865 regulation, it will become clear that it had no relevance to La Pira’s day. 1865 was the year in which King Victor Emmanuel arrived in Florence to make the city the capital of Italy (4) and the seat of the national government. Along with the Court came so many thousands of government functionaries and their families that a sudden housing shortage occurred and a law was hurriedly passed to requisition properties.

But this law was only the beginning of more sweeping State encroachments that would extend to Church property. The Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Guiseppe Vacca, used it for the abolition of convents and monasteries: from 1869, all ecclesiastical property and funds were confiscated and requisitioned for the use of the State. (5)

When we consider that it was La Pira’s friend and colleague, the Marxist lawyer Giampaolo Meucci, (6) who suggested that he should use the 1865 regulation, it becomes clear that the object of La Pira’s Orwellian diktat was simply to place the law on the side of Socialism.


1. Giulio Andreotti, “The extraordinary La Pira,” 30 Days, February 2004. Andreotti was Minister of the Interior in the 1950s;
2. Douglas Hyde, ‘Hurricane Mayor,’ Catholic Herald, 15 July 1955;
3. The Civil Code of 1942 had specifically abrogated the 1865 Civil Code;
4. It was only in 1871 that the Italian capital moved to Rome. Before 1865, Turin was the capital city;
5. For a detailed account of this little known historical event, see Patrick Keyes O’Clery, The Making of Italy 1856-1870, London Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London, 1892;
6. As President of the Juvenile Court in Florence, Meucci presented the young as victims of a bourgeois culture that did not “understand” their needs. He revolutionized the Italian legal system by adapting it to the outlook of young offenders rather than making them conform to the law.
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