Democracy and Class Struggle continues its investigation of Fascism and looks at one aspect that of pre Second World War Fascism - the Clerical Fascist movements.
The term clerical fascism (clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) emerged in the early 1920s in Italy, referring to the faction of the Catholic Partito Popolare Italiano which supported Benito Mussolini and his régime; it was supposedly coined by Don Luigi Sturzo, a priest and Christian Democrat leader who opposed Mussolini and went into exile in 1924, although the term had also been used before Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922 to refer to Catholics in Northern Italy who advocated a synthesis of Catholicism and fascism.
Sturzo made a distinction between the "filofascists", who left the Catholic PPI in 1921 and 1922, and the "clerical fascists" who stayed in the party after the March on Rome, advocating collaboration with the fascist government.
Eventually, the latter group converged with Mussolini, abandoning the PPI in 1923 and creating the Centro Nazionale Italiano. The PPI was disbanded by the Fascist régime in 1926.
The term has since been used by scholars seeking to contrast authoritarian-conservative 'clerical fascism' with more radical variants.
Christian fascists focus on internal religious politics, such as passing laws and regulations that reflect their view of Christianity.
Radicalized forms of Christian fascism or clerical fascism (clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) were emerging on the far-right of the political spectrum in some European countries during the interwar period in the first half of 20th century.
Examples of clerical fascism
Examples of dictatorships and political movements involving certain elements of clerical fascism include:
Father Jozef Tiso's régime (Slovak People's Party) in the Slovak Republic (1939–45)
the Croatian Ustaše movement
António Salazar in Portugal
Engelbert Dollfuss in Austria
the Iron Guard movement in Romania, which was led by the devoutly Orthodox Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
the Rexists in Belgium
the Lapua movement in Finland]