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La Civiltà Cattolica (Italian for The Catholic Civilization) is an Italianmarker biweekly magazine (or periodical) printed by the Jesuits and founded April 6, 1850 in Naplesmarker. It has been praised and highly regarded by readers of Catholic magazines. The magazine strives to appeal to a general audience, rather than any specific audience..


The founding of the periodical

La Civiltà Cattolica was first published in Naplesmarker by a local group of Jesuits.

The magazine was conceived by a Jesuit priest named Carlo Maria Curci. Curci would become the first director of the Catholic magazine. The idea that brought him to founding the magazine was that of defending the Roman Catholic Church, as their enemies' influence over Italy was rising, especially the liberals and the freemasons who were detailing many outlines for the unification of Italy:

The first issue was released on April 6 1850. Father Curci had it published in Italian instead of Latin, which his superiors would have preferred.

Father Curci earned the full support of Pope Pius IX, who wanted to have an effective means of defending Catholic ideas and Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli. The Superior General of the Jesuits, Father Joannes Philippe Roothaan (1783-1853), opposed the involvement of the Pope in the periodical's affairs, fearing that if they were to get involved in political issues, the reputation of the Society of Jesus would be damaged.

Among the first editors are the following Jesuits:

Jesuit fathers Carlo Piccirillo (1821-1888) and Giuseppe Oreglia di Santo Stefano (1823-1895) contributed to the magazine while they were students.

Many of these fathers will eventually form the first College of Writers, established on February 12 1866 with the Apostolic Brief Gravissimum supremi of Pope Pius IX. Until 1933, the writers stayed anonymous. From that year on, the articles were then signed.

The magazine initially had a polemic tone to it, which it retained for several years. This was a typical way of writing in the 19th century (see also "Christian apologetics"), a style which among other things was also typical of the adversaries of the Church.

Because of censorship by the House of Bourbon, the editorial office was transferred to Romemarker in 1850. After moving their offices to Rome, the La Civiltà Cattolica magazine took on the guise of being the representor of the Holy See.

In 1870, after Italian troops entered Rome, publication of the magazine was suspended for two months.

The 19th century battles

As a major figure of the cultural debate that took place in the Roman Catholic Church during the second half of the 19th century, La Civiltà Cattolica contributed to the Syllabus of Errors, the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) and to the task of restoring thomist philosophy, which will flourish during the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903).

A consistently and aggressively anti-evolution position was taken by the journal, which though unofficial was generally believed to have accurate information about the views and actions of the Vatican authorities. The opening in 1998 of the Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (in the 19th century called the Holy Office and the Congregation of the Index) has revealed that on many crucial points this belief was mistaken, and the journal's accounts of specific cases, often the only ones made public, were not accurate. The original documents show the Vatican's attitude was much less fixed than appeared to be the case at the time.

It also held a prominent role in the Italian political arena, following up closely on the events that led up to the unification of Italy and the Roman Question. After the Capture of Rome in 1870, it was an obstacle for the liberalist political party, who were a minority in the country. It also opposedmodernism.

The reactions of the lay culture

The culture of the Laïcité reacted to the workings of La Civiltà Cattolica by founding in Turinmarker the magazine Il Cimento, which was printed between 1852 amd 1856. With this in their hands, the philosopher Bertrando Spaventa (1817-1883), who was close to the thought of Hegel, and the literary historian Francesco De Sanctis had the proposal of confuting the articles of the catholic magazine.

The first half of the 20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century the magazine was published for the Catholic majority of the Italiansmarker, in an attempt to build a school for a ruling class prepared for the future, especially after the gradual decline of the non expedit.

Even during fascism the magazine was intent on forming the ruling class, overcoming the lack of significant figures in the Catholic movement. In 1930, in regards to the clash between Church and State which came about after the Lateran treaty of 1929, a connection between the anti-fascist group of monarchic-catholic inspiration Alleanza Nazionale and Father Enrico Rosa was discovered, who at that time was the director of the magazine.

In 1936 La Civiltà Cattolica dealt with the legitimacy of the colonial annexations. The subject was dealt with by father Antonio Messineo (1897-1968) in a delicate situation: at that time in fact Italymarker was in the middle of conquering Ethiopiamarker and so was clashing with the League of Nations.

In 1937 the joint letter with which the Spanishmarker bishops took a stance on July 1st of the same year as to the civil war was published, supporting the dictatorial movement of general Francisco Franco.

We have an article dated to 1938 and signed by Enrico Rosa, in which the Jesuit analyzes some criticisms made towards the magazine by a study done on the Jewish question. The author rejects the accusations that the magazine supported two measures against the Jews in 1890: the confiscation of goods and the banishment from Italymarker; father Rosa affirms that none of the two is admissible to a Christian spirit, and that the magazine did not support them, though admitting that the strength of the confrontation in that historical moment did not help to express their positions in the clearest of manners. At the same time the article of Enrico Rosa breaks with the rising fascist antisemitism.

According to the judgement of Catholic historians La Civiltà Cattolica continued to denounce all of the totalitarianisms that bathed the 20th century in blood. This interpretation is not shared by the rest of historians, and it has been put into question even in recent times (see ahead).

The work of father Robert Graham is worthy of notice, as it was dedicated to refuting the theories on the asserted "silence" of Pope Pius XII in regards to the nazi concentration camps.

In the second post-war era it cautioned against the danger of communism in Italy and in the Eastern European countries. Very strong articles, such as those signed by Father Riccardo Lombardi (1908-1979), would forewarn Catholics of the necessity of getting organized to combat the Left in the campaign of 1948.

In that moment an internal disagreement came about in the College of Writers as to whether it was opportune for Catholics to be allied with different parties:
The stemma of the Company of Jesus

After the Second Vatican Council

Ecclesial outlooks

The magazine gave abundant information on the Second Vatican Council; some of its writers participated in this event as experts.

Since then the magazine no longer took on a tone of opposition, but rather of dialogue with the modern world, in making an effort to not come short of Christian truth and not make any sort of compromise, and in seaking a dialogue between faith and culture.

The long pontificate of Pope John Paul II also had an influence on the choices of the Society of Jesus and on the magazine, promoting a mission perspective and the revival of apologetical articles, and the work of the New Evangelization of a world that is ever more culturally diverse and attracted to landmarks other than those given by the Gospel.

In the Italian political arena

At the time of the historical compromise, the magazine brought out a constant call for Catholic political activity, which resulted in an urgent and enduring appeal to reestablish Christian Democracy.

In the meantime, they were advancing the process of secularism of Italy, visible in the referendum defeat on issues such as the divorce and abortion. Catholics became a minority in the country, weakening their political strength.


  1. The official website says in this regard: (Translates: "The topics are treated in such a way that they can be understood even by people who are not specialized in that area; and yet they are treated, as far as possible, in such a way as to be rigorously scientific and seriously examined.")
  2. In the second half of the 19th century, Freemasonry had about 300 members in the Parliament of Italy,
  3. Artigas, 2,5,
  4. Artigas, 2,5,7-9,220 etc.
  5. This was a document promulgated by Pope Pius IX in which Catholics were discouraged from taking part actively in political elections
  6. See [1]. This letter was ignored by the Osservatore Romano
  7. La questione giudaica e "La Civiltà Cattolica", in La Civiltà Cattolica, year 89 - Vol. IV - October 1st 1938 - quaderno 2119

See also


  • Artigas, Mariano; Glick, Thomas F., Martínez, Rafael A.; Negotiating Darwin: the Vatican confronts evolution, 1877-1902, JHU Press, 2006, ISBN 080188389X, 9780801883897, Google books
  • Pollard, John F. (2005). Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican, 1850–1950. Cambridge University Press.


  • Francesco Dante, Storia della "Civiltà Cattolica" (1850-1891). Il laboratorio del Papa, Studium, Romamarker 1990
  • Giovanni Sale S.J., "La Civiltà Cattolica" nei suoi primi anni di vita, in La Civiltà cattolica, anno 150°, volume I, quaderno 3570, 20-3-1999, pp. 544–557.
  • Giuseppe De Rosa S.J., La Civiltà Cattolica. 150 anni al servizio della Chiesa. 1850-1999, La Civiltà Cattolica, Romamarker 1999
  • Marco Invernizzi, Il movimento cattolico in Italia dalla fondazione dell'Opera dei Congressi all'inizio della Seconda Guerra Mondiale (1874-1939), Mimep-Docete, Pessano (MImarker) 1995

External links

  • La Civiltà Cattolica official website: riporta gli estratti di tutti gli articoli, e alcuni articoli per ogni numero in versione integrale
  • Indice analitico per la ricerca sulle annate dal 1999 (fascicolo 3565) fino ad oggi
  • Voce La Civiltà Cattolica del Dizionario del pensiero forte
  • Discorso di papa Giovanni Paolo II alla comunità de La Civiltà Cattolica (22 aprile 1999)
  • Studio su La Santa Sede e la seconda guerra mondiale. Memoria e ricerca storica nelle pagine della "Civiltà Cattolica", di Matteo Luigi Napolitano
  • Articolo del 1938 in cui la rivista prende posizione rispetto a certa interpretazione di un suo presunto atteggiamento antigiudaico
  • Articolo de La Civiltà Cattolica che analizza, a firma del padre Antonio Spadaro

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