The Holy Office Against Fascism: Book Censorship and the Political Independence of the Church (1928–1931)

Matteo Brera

Abstract


Studies into the activity of the Congregation of the Index and of the Holy Office have examined extensively the history of Vatican’s practices of book censorship. While up until the sixteenth century the Church imposed substantial modifications to literary texts, mainly in order to moralise them, in the seventeenth and eighteenth century it used book censorship to preserve ecclesiastical doctrine and its own power. In the nineteenth century the Roman Inquisition aimed to discredit noxious literature – and the dangerous ideas it contained – through its inclusion in the Index of Prohibited Books. In the twentieth century, when the Church’s secular power was fading, the Holy Office reacted against modernism thus intensifying its campaign against pernicious literature, seen as the main medium through which modernist ideas could infiltrate public opinion.

During the papacy of Pius XI, in particular, the policies of the Holy Office mainly aimed to support the interventionism of the Holy See and its attempts to ‘catholicise’ public opinion and society. The Italian case renders a clear picture of a transformed Roman Inquisition: analysing the proceedings against Gabriele d’Annunzio (Opera omnia, 1928) and Mario Missiroli (Date a Cesare, 1929) this paper will demonstrate how the Roman Index and literary censorship stood out as the core of the Church’s relentless attempt to forge a ‘catholicised’ society between the two wars and to regain – through the forbiddance of authors and books closely linked to fascism – the political and social influence that Mussolini threatened to take-over before and in the aftermath of the Concordate of 1929. 


Keywords


Book Censorship, Holy Office, Politics, Fascism

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1415

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-16997

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