Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

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Fascism and the Papacy.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia (1948)

Mussolini was an aggressive Atheist as well as republican until 1921. It is credibly reported that on a public platform he did what is falsely attributed to Bradlaugh - put his watch on the table and gave the Almighty a minute to strike him dead. When the military and industrialist leaders who offered to finance his party required him to abandon these attitudes, his Atheism disappeared in a few months; and one of his first acts after the March on Rome in 1922 (in which he did not take part, remaining in the provinces until its success was announced), was to present the valuable Chigi Library to the Pope. The Vatican, however, distrusted his sudden conversion, and for seven years refused to be reconciled, especially as the early Fascists were very largely anti-Papal. The Pope congratulated Mussolini on his escape from assassination, but was silent when he sent 10,000 opponents to jail, when he boasted that Fascism had "marched to power over the rotting corpse of liberty," and when he condoned, if he did not procure, the brutal murder of Matteotti (1924). That crime shook the power of Fascism, for more than half the adult Italians were, as the electoral figures prove, still Liberals, Socialists, or Communists, and from that date Mussolini's militarist and royalist supporters sought a reconciliation with the Church, so as to secure the Pope's influence, but the Vatican demanded too high a price. The Pope wanted the full application of the Canon Law in Italy, the suppression of all non-Catholic cults, the control of all education, and a generous measure of temporal (royal) power. In 1929 he was forced to compromise and they signed an agreement by which the Pope got œ19,000,000 in cash (which he is rumoured to have invested in America and lost in the ensuing depression) and State bonds - the sum, with accumulated interest, allotted to the Papacy in 1870 [see Papal States] - and independent power in the Vatican City (108 acres of Rome, with its own postage, railway station, etc.). They signed also a Concordat by which the Pope got control of all schools and colleges below the universities (control of which both professors and Fascists heatedly opposed), the establishment of Catholicism as the State-religion, the endowment of the clergy, the protection of the property of monks, a law of religious marriage, drastic penalties on all criticism of the Church, the enforcement of the Church's Holy Days, relief from taxation for the clergy and Church property, and the expulsion of all ex-priests (who were very numerous in Italy) from the Civil Service.
    This sordid bargain, hailed in the world's press as a beautiful reconciliation of the secular and spiritual powers, was followed by bitter recrimination on both sides. Mussolini, who, to secure his own power, had sold the rights to win which half a million Italians had died in the nineteenth century, had to defend himself against his own followers, and the bold language he used caused the Pope to denounce him publicly as "a heretic" (Osservatore Romano, May 30, 1929). Against his statement that he had "made no concessions" the Pope claimed all the powers of a mediaeval Pontiff. This extraordinary document, showing that the Papacy has not altered a line of its claims, was concealed by the Press from its readers in Great Britain and America. A translation of parts of it is given (direct from the Osservatore) in McCabe's Papacy in Modern Politics, 1937, p. 58.     Mussolini made further concessions in 1931 and began to attend church in 1932. In the same year he wrote the opening part of the article "Fascismo" in the new Enciclopedia Italiana, and in this he derided the Christian ideal of peace and glorified war as the agency which "alone raises the energy of man to the highest pitch and impresses a seal of nobility upon the nations which have the manliness to undertake it"; while in the same year British newspapers printed only his public and passionate avowals that Italy sought peace and had no thought of aggression. The Pope, keeping his part of the criminal bargain, said nothing, and permitted the Italian Church and hierarchy to bless the rape of Abyssinia [see]. What sinister part the new Pope played in the recent war will in time be revealed. See McCabe's book (as above) and F. A. Ridley, The Papacy and Fascism, 1939.


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