Sturzo, Luigi

(1871–1959)
   Born in Caltagirone (Sicily), Luigi Sturzo was ordained in 1904. Convinced of the need for the Church to involve itself in the lives of the working class, and to provide a Catholic alternative to socialism, “Don” Sturzo (the Sicilian honorific is nearly always applied by Italians—even non-Sicilians—to refer to a priest) interpreted his calling to include social and political action. He held elected office in Caltagirone, wrote for the Catholic press, and was secretary of Azione Cattolica Italiana/Catholic Action (ACI) between 1915 and 1917. With the tacit support of the Vatican, which had previously blocked any attempt to found a political movement that was not under the Church’s direct control, Don Sturzo launched the Partito Popolare Italiano/Italian People’s Party (PPI) in January 1919. The new movement sought to offer the working class a moderate alternative to the corruption and ineptness of Italian liberalism and the revolutionary politics of the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI). The message found plenty of listeners: In the elections of November 1919, the PPI obtained nearly 21 percent of the votes and over 100 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
   Don Sturzo early recognized the dangers for democracy presented by Fascism, but despite the frequent acts of intimidation against the PPI’s local organizations and activists, the party as a whole was more afraid of the PSI. In October 1922, the party was passive in the face of the Fascist coup and decided, against Don Sturzo’s will, to participate in the government formed by the Fascist leader. Don Sturzo’s critical attitude toward Benito Mussolini was too controversial for a Vatican that, since the election of Pope Pius XI in February 1922, had cultivated good relations with the Fascists. Prior to the parliamentary debate over the “Acerbo Law” on electoral reform in 1923, the Fascists threatened to wage war against the Church if the Vatican did not disown the “priest from Caltagirone.” The Church replied to this open threat by inviting Don Sturzo to step down, which he did in July. He continued to remain a member of the PPI’s national council. In 1924 the PPI, with Don Sturzo to the fore, endorsed the boycott of Parliament by the democratic parties after the murder of Giacomo Matteotti. In October 1925, the Vatican bowed to Fascist pressure and instructed Don Sturzo to leave for London.
   He spent the next 20 years in foreign exile. During his time abroad, he wrote numerous books under the watchful eye of the Church authorities, and finally returned to Italy in 1946. He took only a consultative role in the political development of the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC). In 1953, he was appointed senator for life of the Italian Republic. He died in Romein 1959.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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  • Sturzo, Luigi — born Nov. 26, 1871, Caltagirone, Sicily died Aug. 8, 1959, Rome, Italy Italian priest and political leader. Ordained a priest in 1894, he earned a doctorate in Rome, then returned to his native Sicily to help the oppressed miners and peasants. As …   Universalium

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  • Luigi Sturzo — Don Luigi Sturzo (26 November 1871 – 8 August 1959) was an Italian Catholic priest and politician. Known in his lifetime as a clerical socialist, [1] Sturzo is considered one of the fathers of Christian democracy …   Wikipedia

  • Sturzo — Luigi Sturzo, auch Don Sturzo (* 26. November 1871 in Caltagirone, Italien; † 8. August 1959 in Rom) war ein italienischer Priester und Politiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Ehrungen 3 Literatur 4 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Luigi Sturzo — Luigi Sturzo, auch Don Sturzo (* 26. November 1871 in Caltagirone, Sizilien, Italien; † 8. August 1959 in Rom) war ein italienischer Priester und Politiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Ehrungen 3 Literat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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