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  • I cattolici dal Risorgimento a Benedetto XVI: Un percorso dal Piemonte all’Italia by Bartolo Gariglio
  • Frank J. Coppa
I cattolici dal Risorgimento a Benedetto XVI: Un percorso dal Piemonte all’Italia. By Bartolo Gariglio. (Brescia: Editrice Morcelliana, 2013. Pp. 208. €18,00 paperback. ISBN 978-88-372-2665-7.)

This volume has a clearly defined theme in its emphasis on the North Italian influence in Church and state in the Italian peninsula. There are those in Italy and abroad who disagree with the conclusions of author Bartolo Gariglio (professor of contemporary history at the University of Turin), but he avoids polemic in the stance taken in “Catholics from the Risorgimento to the Pontificate of Benedict XVI,” convinced that the book speaks for itself. It does not do so in the title, and there are only hints of the theme in the book’s subtitle (“A Passage from Piedmont to Italy”). An explanation of sorts is provided in the introduction and the first chapter of the book, which together emphasize the role of northern Italy in the transformation of “The Excommunicated Risorgimento to the Blessed Risorgimento” (pp. 5–35).

Some confusion flows from the fact that although the author’s assertions and observations are clearly stated, their defense is somewhat haphazard and less than effective. Gariglio does not provide a unified narrative tracing the interaction and impact of North Italian industrial and religious forces that he believes helped convert the Risorgimento condemned by Pope Pius IX (1846–78) into one accepted and blessed by the Church and the papacy in the twentieth century.

Two issues need to be addressed here: first, the premise that a series of northern religious and industrial forces and factors influenced—and at times directed—the [End Page 621] development of the faith and the faithful throughout the peninsula. It is a statement easily made, but difficult to prove. Second, the author’s findings and contentions in his earlier publications, from which he has freely borrowed for inclusion in the present work, have not produced an integrated narrative. It appears they were hastily pasted together.

Furthermore, since the author arrived at these conclusions while living and teaching in the Piedmontese capital, some believe they reflect a certain northern and Piedmontese perspective—some might say bias. This is conjecture, but clearly the use of earlier findings to support later conclusions must be undertaken carefully and properly integrated to make an important contribution in the new work. This has not been always been scrupulously observed in Gariglio’s latest work, where each chapter appears to have a logic and organization of its own. This is true of chapter 5, “Catholics and the Resistance in Northern Italy,” which apparently was borrowed from Gariglio’s earlier book, Cattolici e Resistenza nell’Italia settentrionale (Bologna, 1997). The same is true of chapter 2 (on “La Stampa del Risorgimento”), which draws heavily on yet another Gariglio book, La Stampa e l’opinione pubblica nel Risogimento (Milan, 1987).

Despite Gariglio’s focus on the North’s influence in the religious life of the country, he recognizes the positive and key parts played by popes Leo XIII (1878–1903), Pius X (1903–14), and Pius XI (1922–39) in the transformation cited. Unfortunately, the contributions by Pietro Gasparri and Francesco Pacelli (the older brother of Eugenio)—who negotiated the crucial Lateran Accords and thus facilitated and completed the religious reconciliation in Italy—are virtually ignored.

Frank J. Coppa
St. John’s University (Emeritus)


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