Tag Archives: austria

Catholicism and Fascism

Fascist regimes require the creation of a national identity and legitimacy through mass popular support, and religion is one pathway toward achieving these goals. Fascist Italy, Francoist Spain, the Dollfuss/Schuschnigg Austrian state, and the Nacionalistas in Argentina all supported the Catholic Church and Catholic thinkers for the purpose of creating a national identity and developing legitimacy. Though the Church was not always fully committed to the political aspirations of fascist regimes, the Church supported these regimes across both time and space. The reactionary politics of the Church often matched those of the fascists: they both opposed liberal democracy, socialism, and capitalism. Furthermore, fascist positions on public morality and the place of religion in national life mirrored those of the Church as well. In Austria, the Catholic identity fostered by the fascist regime stood in direct opposition to Protestant German identity, and thus against Nazism as well. Through allying themselves with the Church, these fascist regimes were able to legitimize themselves as preservers of a traditional Catholic culture and a unique identity. Through allying with the fascist regimes, the Church was able to gain political power as well as avoid oppression. Fascism is linked with Catholicism from the beginning in Italy, and understanding this relationship is paramount to understanding fascism as a serious political force.

Continue reading