Clerical fascism (also clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) is an ideology that combines the political and economic doctrines of fascism with clericalism. The term has been used to describe organizations and movements that combine religious elements with fascism, support by religious organizations for fascism, or fascist regimes in which clergy play a leading role.
The term clerical fascism (clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) emerged in the early 1920s in the Kingdom of 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.
In 1870 the newly formed Kingdom of Italy annexed the remaining Papal States, depriving the Pope of his temporal power. However, Papal rule in Italy was later restored by the Italian Fascist régime (albeit on a greatly diminished scale) in 1929 as head of the Vatican City state; under Mussolini's dictatorship, Roman Catholicism became the state religion of Fascist Italy.
In March 1929, a nationwide plebiscite was held to publicly endorse the Treaty. Opponents were intimidated by the Fascist régime: the Catholic Action (Azione Cattolica) and Mussolini claimed that "no" votes were of those "few ill-advised anti-clericals who refuse to accept the Lateran Pacts". Nearly 9 million Italians voted or 90 per cent of the registered electorate and only 136,000 voted "no".
Almost immediately after the signing of the Treaty relations between Mussolini and the Church soured again. Mussolini "referred to Catholicism as, in origin, a minor sect that had spread beyond Palestine only because grafted onto the organization of the Roman empire." After the concordat, "he confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years." Mussolini reportedly came close to being excommunicated from the Catholic Church around this time.
In 1938, the Italian Racial Laws and Manifesto of Race were promulgated by the Fascist régime, enforced to both outlaw and persecute Italian Jews and Protestant Christians, especially Evangelicals and Pentecostals. Thousands of Italian Jews and a small number of Protestants died in the Nazi concentration camps.
Despite Mussolini's close alliance with Hitler's Germany, Italy did not adopt Nazism's genocidal ideology towards the Jews. The Nazis were frustrated by the Italian authorities' refusal to co-operate in the round-ups of Jews, and no Jews were deported from Italy prior to the Nazi occupation of the country following the Italian capitulation in 1943. In Italian occupied Croatia, Nazi envoy Siegfried Kasche advised Berlin that Italian forces had "apparently been influenced" by Vatican opposition to German anti-Semitism. As anti-Axis feeling grew in Italy, the use of Vatican Radio to broadcast papal disapproval of race murder and anti-Semitism angered the Nazis. Mussolini was overthrown in July 1943, and the Nazis moved to occupy Italy, and commenced a round-up of Jews.
Around 4% of Resistance forces were formally Catholic organisations, but Catholics dominated other "independent groups" such as the Fiamme Verdi and Osoppo partisans, and there were also Catholic militants in the Garibaldi Brigades, such as Benigno Zaccagnini, who later served as a prominent Christian Democrat politician. In Northern Italy, tensions between Catholics and Communists in the movement led Catholics to form the Fiamme Verdi as a separate brigade of Christian Democrats in Northern Italy. After the war, the ideological divisions between the partisans re-emerged, becoming a hallmark of post-war Italian politics.
Examples of dictatorships and political movements involving certain elements of clerical fascism include:
Scholars who accept the term clerical fascism nonetheless debate which of the listed examples should be dubbed "clerical fascist", with the Ustaše being the most widely included. In the above cited examples, the degree of official Catholic support and clerical influence over lawmaking and government varies. Moreover, several authors reject the concept of a clerical fascist régime, arguing that an entire fascist régime does not become "clerical" if elements of the clergy support it, while others are not prepared to use the term "clerical fascism" outside the context of what they call the fascist epoch, between the ends of the two world wars (1918–1945).
Some scholars regard certain contemporary movements as forms of clerical fascism, including Christian Identity and Christian Reconstructionism in the United States; "the most virulent form" of Islamic fundamentalism, Islamism; and militant Hindu nationalism in India.
The political theorist Roger Griffin warns against the "hyperinflation of clerical fascism". According to Griffin, the use of the term "clerical fascism" should be limited to "the peculiar forms of politics that arise when religious clerics and professional theologians are drawn either into collusion with the secular ideology of fascism (an occurrence particularly common in interwar Europe); or, more rarely, manage to mix a theologically illicit cocktail of deeply held religious beliefs with a fascist commitment to saving the nation or race from decadence or collapse". Griffin adds that "clerical fascism" "should never be used to characterize a political movement or a regime in its entirety, since it can at most be a faction within fascism", while he defines fascism as "a revolutionary, secular variant of ultranationalism bent on the total rebirth of society through human agency".
In the case of the Slovak State, some scholars have rejected the use of clerical fascism as a label for the regime and for Jozef Tiso in particular. Slovak historian Ľubomír Lipták has argued that "clerofascism" is similar to Judeo-Bolshevism in that both labels sought "to compromise one [component] with the other and both mutually".
In the period following the signing of the 1929 Lateran Pact, which declared Catholicism as Italy's state religion in the context of a comprehensive regulation of Vatican and Italian government relations, Catholic cultural support for Mussolini is consolidated.
In 1938, the Italian Fascist regime under Benito Mussolini enacted a series of racial laws that placed multiple restrictions on the country’s Jewish population. At the time the laws were enacted, it is estimated that about 46,000 Jews lived in Italy, of whom about 9,000 were foreign born and thus subject to further restrictions such as residence requirements. [...] Estimates suggest that between September 1943 and March 1945, about 10,000 Jews were deported. The vast majority perished, principally at Auschwitz.
Lyons and I put Christian Identity into the category of clerical fascism, and we also included the militant theocratic Protestant movement called Christian Reconstructionism... a case can be made for... the Hindu nationalist (Hinduvata) Bharatiya Janata Party in India (which grew out of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Hindu religious movement).
In the most virulent form, theocratic Islamic fundamentalism could be a form of clerical fascism (theocratic fascism built around existing institutionalized clerics). This is a disputed view...
‘Clerical fascism’ is perhaps the nearest concept which comes closest to Islamism.
The Argentine Patriotic League (Liga Patriótica Argentina) was a Nacionalista paramilitary group, officially created in Buenos Aires on January 16, 1919, during the Tragic week events. Presided over by Manuel Carlés, a professor at the Military College and the Escuela Superior de Guerra, it also counted among its members the deputy Santiago G. O'Farrell (1861-1926). The League was merged into the Argentine Civic Legion in 1931. The Argentine Patriotic League formed part of a larger movement of patriotic leagues active in Chile and Argentina during the early 20th century.Blueshirts (Falange)
The Blueshirts (Spanish: Camisas Azules) was the Falangist paramilitary militia in Spain. The name refers to the blue uniform worn by members of the militia. The colour blue was chosen for the uniforms in 1934 by the FE de las JONS because it was, according to José Antonio Primo de Rivera, "clear, whole, and proletarian," and is the colour typically worn by mechanics, as the Falange sought to gain support among the Spanish working class. In Francoist Spain the Blueshirts were officially reorganized and officially renamed the Falange Militia of the FET y de las JONS in 1940.Christian nationalism
Christian nationalism is Christianity-affiliated religious nationalism. Christian nationalists focus primarily on internal politics, such as passing laws that reflect their view of Christianity and its role in political and social life. They are actively promoting religious (Christian) and nationalistic discourses in various fields of social life, from politics and history, to culture and science. In Europe and the United States, Christian nationalism ranges from conservative to far right-wing.
Christian nationalistic movements often have complex leadership structure, depending on the nature of their relationship with local Church institutions. Some movements are more lay oriented, with symbolic clerical participation and indirect support of the local Church structures, and others are actually led or strongly influenced by local clergy. Involvement of clergy in various Christian nationalistic movements since the 19th century led to the development of particular form of Christian nationalism known as clerical nationalism (also known as clero-nationalism or clerico-nationalism). Some distinctive radicalized forms of clerical nationalism even led to the rise of clerical fascism on the far-right of the political spectrum in various European countries specially during the interwar period in the first half of 20th century.Clericalism
Clericalism is the application of the formal, church-based, leadership or opinion of ordained clergy in matters of either the church or broader political and sociocultural import.Crypto-fascism
Crypto-fascism is the secret support for, or admiration of, fascism. The term is used to imply that an individual or group keeps this support or admiration hidden to avoid political persecution or political suicide. The common usage is "crypto-fascist", one who practices this support.Falangism in Latin America
Falangism in Latin America has been a feature of political life since the 1930s as movements looked to the national syndicalist clerical fascism of the Spanish state and sought to apply it to other Spanish-speaking countries. From the mid 1930s, the Falange Exterior, effectively an overseas version of the Spanish Falange, was active throughout Latin America in order to drum up support among Hispanic communities. However, the ideas would soon permeate into indigenous political groups. The term "Falangism" should not be applied to the military dictatorships of such figures as Alfredo Stroessner, Augusto Pinochet and Rafael Trujillo because while these individuals often enjoyed close relations to Francisco Franco's Spain, their military nature and frequent lack of commitment to national syndicalism and the corporate state mean that they should not be classed as Falangist (although individuals within each regime may have been predisposed towards the ideology). The phenomenon can be seen in a number of movements both past and present.
The popularity of Falangism in Latin America declined after the defeat of Fascism and the Axis powers in World War II.Fascism (disambiguation)
Fascism is a political ideology.
Fascism may refer to:
Albanian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Albania
Austrian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Austria
British fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Britain
Croatian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Croatia
French fascism, a version of the ideology developed in France
German fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Germany
Hungarian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Hungary
Italian fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Italy
Religious fascism, a distinctive form of fascism with religious components
Christian fascism, a distinctive form of religious fascism
Clerical fascism, a distinctive form of Christian fascism, merged with Clericalism
Islamic fascism, a distinctive form of religious fascism with Islamic components
Russian fascism (disambiguation), versions of the ideology developed in Russia
Social fascism, a political theory
Spanish fascism, a version of the ideology developed in Spain
Yugoslav fascism, a version of the ideology developed in YugoslaviaFatherland Front (Austria)
The Fatherland Front (German: Vaterländische Front, VF) was the ruling political organisation of "Austrofascism". It claimed to be a nonpartisan movement, and aimed to unite all the people of Austria, overcoming political and social divisions. Established on 20 May 1933 by Christian Social Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss as the only legally permitted party in the country, it was organised along the lines of Italian Fascism, except the Fatherland Front was fully aligned with the Catholic Church and did not advocate any racial ideology, as later Italian Fascism did. It advocated Austrian nationalism and independence from Germany on the basis of protecting Austria's Catholic religious identity from what they considered a Protestant-dominated German state.The Fatherland Front, which was strongly linked with Austria's Catholic clergy, absorbed Dollfuss's Christian Social Party, the agrarian Landbund and the right-wing paramilitary Heimwehren, all of which were opposed to socialism, free-market capitalism and liberal democracy. It established an authoritarian and corporatist regime, the Federal State of Austria, which is commonly known in German as the Ständestaat ("corporate state"). According to the Fatherland Front this form of government and society implemented the social teaching of Pope Pius XI's 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo anno. The Front banned and persecuted all its political opponents, including Communists, Social Democrats—who fought against it in a brief Civil War in February 1934—but also the Austrian Nazis who wanted Austria to join Germany. Chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated by the Nazis in July 1934. He was succeeded as leader of the VF and Chancellor of Austria by Kurt Schuschnigg, who ruled until the invigorated Nazis forced him to resign on 11 March 1938. Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany the next day.
The Fatherland Front maintained a cultural and recreational organisation, called "New Life" (Neues Leben), similar to Germany's Strength Through Joy.The role of the Fatherland Front has been a contentious point in post-War Austrian historiography. While left-wing historians consider it to be the exponent of an Austrian and Catholic-clerical variant of fascism and make it responsible for the failure of democracy in Austria, conservative authors stress its credits in defending the country's independence and opposition to Nazism.Islamic monarchy
Islamic monarchies are a type of Islamic state which are monarchies. Historically known by various names, such as Mamlakah ("Kingdom"), Caliphate, Sultanate, or Emirate, current Islamic monarchies include:
Kingdom of Morocco
Kingdom of Bahrain
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sultanate of Oman
Monarchies of Malaysia
Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace
State of Kuwait
State of Qatar
United Arab EmiratesIslamofascism
"Islamic fascism" (first described in 1933), also known since 1990 as "Islamofascism", is a term drawing an analogy between the ideological characteristics of specific Islamist movements and a broad range of European fascist movements of the early 20th century, neofascist movements, or totalitarianism.List of fascist movements by country A–F
A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.List of fascist movements by country G–M
A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.List of fascist movements by country N–T
A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.National Catholicism
National Catholicism (Spanish: Nacionalcatolicismo) was part of the ideological identity of Francoism, the political system with which dictator Francisco Franco governed Spain between 1939 and 1975. Its most visible manifestation was the hegemony that the Catholic Church had in all aspects of public and private life. As a symbol of the ideological divisions within Francoism, it can be contrasted to National syndicalism (nacionalsindicalismo), an essential component of the ideology and political practice of the Falangists.National Fascist Union (Argentina)
The National Fascist Union (Unión Nacional Fascista, UNF) was a fascist political party formed in Argentina in 1936, as the successor to the Argentine Fascist Party.In August 1936, UNF leader Nimio de Anquín attempted to force students at a law school in Cordoba to pledge a statement of support for the Spanish general Francisco Franco. Police responded with a crackdown against Argentine nationalists. Support for the UNF surged after two nationalists were shot in the Colegio Montserrat in 1938. In the aftermath of the Montserrat murders, Anquin denounced the middle and upper class for complicity and cowardice and claimed that "communism, Judaism, and degenerate Radicalism" were responsible for causing the murders. Anquín called for the mourners to swear "by God, honour, and the Fatherland, to return the homicidal bullet".By 1939, the UNF was largely defunct, and Anquín returned to his hometown to resume his earlier career as a lecturer.National Idea
National Idea (Czech: Národní myšlenka) is a nationalist group in the Czech Republic that promotes Catholic integralist ideas by way of its journal National Idea: an Independent Journal of Conservative Nationalism. It was established in 2001 in Prague and is currently based in the town of Hodkovice nad Mohelkou. It is associated with Mladá pravice, a right-wing political party led by the Eurosceptic activist Lukáš Petřík which has a strong Internet presence.
The journal features political and economic essays and translations, interviews with right-wing groups and music and literary reviews. The journal has explored contemporary and historic strains of nationalist thought including the patriotic ideology of Czech philosopher František Mareš, the integralism of Charles Maurras and the revolutionary conservatism of Carl Schmitt and Ernst Jünger on the one hand; and the clerical fascism of Léon Degrelle, the paleoconservatism of Pat Buchanan and the antiliberalism of the European New Right on the other.National Synarchist Union
The National Synarchist Union (Spanish: Unión Nacional Sinarquista) is a Mexican political organization. It was historically a movement of the Roman Catholic extreme right, in some ways akin to clerical fascism and falangism, implacably opposed to the left wing and secularist policies of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its predecessors that governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000 and 2012 to 2018.Rexist Party
The Rexist Party (French: Parti Rexiste), or simply Rex, was a far-right Catholic, nationalist, authoritarian and corporatist political party active in Belgium from 1935 until 1945. The party was founded by a journalist, Léon Degrelle, and, unlike other fascist parties in the Belgium of the time, advocated Belgian unitarism and royalism. Initially the party ran in both Flanders and Wallonia but never achieved much success outside Wallonia and Brussels. Its name was derived from the Roman Catholic journal and publishing company Christus Rex (Latin for Christ the King).
The highest point that the Rexist party had achieved was its success on sending 21 out of 202 deputies (with 11.4% of the vote) and twelve senators in the 1936 election. Never a mass movement, it was on the decline by 1938. During the German occupation of Belgium in World War II, Rex was the largest collaborationist group in French-speaking Belgium, paralleled by the Vlaams Nationaal Verbond (VNV) in Flanders. By the end of the war Rex was widely discredited, and was banned following the liberation.
Initially modelled on Italian Fascism and Spanish Falangism, it later drew closer to German Nazism. The Party espoused a "right-wing revolution" and the dominance of the Catholic Church in Belgium, but its ideology came to be vigorously opposed by the leader of the Belgian Church Cardinal van Roey, who called Rexism a "danger to the church and to the country".Young Egypt Party (1933)
The Young Egypt Party (Arabic: حزب مصر الفتاة, Misr El-Fatah) was an Egyptian political party.