(Published in Il Popolo d'Italia, July 27, 1922)
By Benito Mussolini
Recent events have called attention to the issue of our relations with the Italian People's Party or Popular Party (Partito Popolare Italiano). For this reason our position and practices must be clarified. Fascism is not an anti-religious movement. It does not intend to "banish God from heaven, and religion from the earth", as certain materialists proudly and stupidly claim. Fascism does not consider religion to be an invention of priests or a trick of those who hold power to enable them to rule the poor. These idiotic explanations of religious phenomena belong to an era of the most degrading anti-clericalism.
Fascism is not anti-religious in general, and is not anti-Christian or anti-Catholic in particular. Fascism sees in Catholicism the gigantic and successful effort to adapt a race such as ours to a religion born in the East among men of other races and with another mentality. Catholicism is the synthesis between Judea and Rome, between Christ and Quirinus. It is the religion practiced for centuries upon centuries by the great majority of the Italian people. Universal, because it was created on the structure of a universal empire, Catholicism makes Rome one of the most powerful centres of the life of the religious spirit in the world. As can be seen, the position of Fascism toward Catholicism is quite different from that of the anti-clericalism which was in vogue in mediocre pre-war Italy.
Yet, despite this, the Italian People's Party, which claims to be Christian and Catholic, is in league with the Socialists and with democratic atheists and Freemasons, and assumes an attitude of hostility towards Fascism. The People's Party, which could remain neutral and friendly, has instead revealed themselves to be a sworn and sneaky enemy of Fascism. It is natural that Fascism picks up the gauntlet. Anti-Fascism is but one of many aspects which the People's Party and the Socialists have in common with each other. Both are basely demagogic.
The People's Party has a left wing, which resembles more the military wing of the Socialist Party, and a right wing, which tows the line. Anti-Fascism is destined to divide the People's Party. The Boncompagni episode is proof of this. The People's Party is in fact the ambiguous Party par excellence. The People's Party has certainly benefited in gaining the electoral masses from the parishes, so there is a religious factor; but to keep these masses mimicking the theory and practice of the doctrines and methods of Socialism, means that the People's Party is both religious and secular at the same time. It begins with Christ but ends with the devil. Don Sturzo, it is said, still celebrates the Mass, i.e. sacrifice, renunciation, but the acceptance of this valley of tears coincides with the fact that Miglioli practices class warfare just like the most radical of socialists.
How does one reconcile the Christian "love of neighbor" with the preaching of hatred against certain categories of men? The unscrupulous materialism, truly "mammonic" of the People's Party is documented in the parliamentary chronicles of the post-war period. The arrogance of the People's Party has already been branded by one of the superiors of the Milanese branch, who defined the People's Party as the "merry widow of Italian politics": a bare-boned definition, but very accurate.
The Party of Catholic Christians has revealed itself to be a Party of robbers of souls who could not care less about the future destinies of the people, but only cares about filling their own pockets and robbing the Nation. Their actions reveal them to be disorderly swindlers and blackmailers. The People's Party lacks any semblance of dignity and nobility. When you consider that the leader of this group is the tridentine De Gasperi, who was always a faithful subject of Franz Joseph, who was editor of the Reichpost, an unashamedly italophobic newspaper of Vienna, the De Gasperi whose polemics against the irredentism of Battisti no one in Trento has yet forgotten; and when you consider that De Gasperi is presented as the highest expression of the redeemed Trento, you will immediately realize what passes as patriotism and dignity in the People's party.
With their last parliamentary acts, with their ridiculous "veto", with their no less ridiculous attempts to combine a ministry of the extreme left, the People's Party has torn away all remaining illusions: we are dealing with a Party infected with Socialism, a Party which is anti-Catholic and anti-Christian. The People's Party declares war on Fascism and war we will have. The methods of this war depend on local circumstances; subsequent developments of this war are not predictable, but there would be no surprise if the struggle against the intolerable tyranny of the sharks of the People's Party led to an anti-clerical insurrection, much less mindless than the anti-clerical campaigns of other times.
In the upper echelons of the Vatican there are those who wonder if the birth and rise of the People's Party will end up doing huge damage to the Church. The Holy See declares that they have nothing in common with the actions of the People's Party. That's fine. But in the end, someone might ask whether this distinction between Poplars and Catholics is too convenient. The Vatican does not have jurisdiction over the People's Party? So be it! But surely they have taken the Populars into consideration since they profess to be Christians and Catholics. And here is the asinine forge! Here is revealed the falsity of this intimate situation where the Populars, as party-members, must conveniently obey Don Sturzio, and, as believers, must obey the supreme and sole authority of the Church: the pope.
There are, in short, two popes in Italy: the first, Don Sturzo, who has care over the flesh, and the second, Pius XI, who has care over souls. Could it be, by chance, that the antipope Don Sturzo is an instrument of Satan? For it has become evident, by a thousand signs, that severe storms will arise on the horizon of the Church if the People's Party continues to slum it in its materialistic, tyrannical, and anti-Christian policy.