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Rivista di etica e scienze sociali / Journal of Ethics & Social Sciences


Introduction 1

Giuseppe Lazzati was one of the most important Christian political activists in Europe after the Second World War. He devoted himself to a lifelong search of the relationship between Christianity and politics, trying to discover the foundations of Christian action in the world. To be sure, he was not the only one of his time to undertake this kind of reflection, but the thing that is particularly interesting about him is that he was one of the few who did not stop at the level of academic searching but went further in trying to introduce humanistic and Christians values into active political and social life.

Among the elements that characterise Lazzati’s thought, we find one that keeps on repeating like a refrain: to think politically. Lazzati had a very high vision of politics. He considered it to be one of the noblest of all human activities. "Noble" because it is the most "architectural", in that it is an activity that extends to the construction of the common good, that is, to the construction of the highest good of all people. This idea, even before being political, indicates a project for human life that we could call a "planetary humanization" 2.

This article outlines the crucial moments of the life of Lazzati: his patristic studies, the war and his imprisonment in the German prison camp, his political activity and his role in the Constituent Assembly, his period as Rector of the Catholic University during the years of tense confrontation around 1968, and also his work as an educator, journalist and founder of a secular institute. Although we will not dwell on the point here, it is worth mentioning that Lazzati’s political thinking was deeply influenced by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain. In an article in a subsequent issue of Oikonomia I will expand on this point and its significance.


Lazzati’s life.

Giuseppe Lazzati was born in Milan on 22 June 1909 in a family whose great religious spirit encouraged him, while still only eleven years old, to join the Student Association under the patronage of "Saint Stanislao Kostska" which had been founded in the year 1888 by mons. Luigi Testa. This association proposed a new and original model of formation: "the young student would be formed by learning Christian values, at the same time as continuing his studies, which he must then carry out into society to cure it from its evil and direct it along the right path" 3. It is in this environment that Lazzati received his early formation. He was noted for his sensitivity and natural ability that were to allow him to continue his studies even when financial difficulties forced him to undertake several part time jobs.

In 1931, Giuseppe Lazzati concluded his studies, obtaining a Degree in Ancient Christian Literature with a thesis on the figure of Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. This thesis highlights the relationship between faith and culture, faith and science, their conflicts, and the possibility of their coexistence. At the time, Alexandria was one of the richest and most culturally advanced cities of the world, a meeting place for many cultures and religions, such as the gnostic schools and the young Christian community.

In Lazzati’s work, a central concern is the conflict between the figures of Theophilus, the bishop-politician who loved splendid buildings, magnificent monuments and who, due to his wealth, jealously preserved his power, and John Chrysostom, bishop of Byzantium, "who appeared to be more like the classical figure of the bishop devoted to the care and safeguard of human souls" 4.

Lazzati reveals the conflict between evangelization and social action that had existed from the earliest centuries of Christianity, comparing the two figures of Theophilus and Chrysostom. "Particularly in the comparison with Chrysostom, Theophilus is fully revealed: the first is a bishop, while the second is a prefect (a civil leader); the first is intent on governing the church, understood as spiritual government to sanctify the souls that have beenentrusted to him, while the other is intent on governing the church, understood as the affirmation of his supremacy, perhaps without much care for the government of souls" 5.

For Lazzati, analysis of these two figures allowed him to develop a point that was most dear to him and which would guide his future work: the importance of the integration between the religious and the political life. In fact the idea of this integration, fruit of his patristic studies, became the goal of his life and his commitment to the Church and to society. Lazzati remained faithful to this line of thinking throughout his academic life, beginning in 1935 with the publication of his thesis and his first research 6.

Lazzati loved to quote pieces from patristic writings especially from the letter "To Diognetus," which includes the passage: "The Christians are in the world like the soul in the body. Although the world has received no injustice from the Christians, the world hates them because they oppose its pleasures. The soul loves the body that hates it: also the Christians love those that hate them... They support the world." Therefore, the Church does not act "on" the world, but acts as the "world's soul" 7. Lazzati often returned to this idea, in a modern spirit illuminated by his patristic studies, never growing tired of it, putting it into practice on a personal level in his own life 8.

Shortly after having graduated, he joined the Society of the "Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ", founded by Father Agostino Gemelli and composed of lay men consecrated to God. However, one should not think of this as a religious congregation; we are talking about a period in church history in which theologians and canonists did not think it possible to connect the lay state with consecration, and neither did the Church as a whole seem ready to recognise this possibility.

Lazzati’s way of understanding the lay person’s road to holiness was different from that held in the Society he had joined, and as a result of this and of other differences, his time as a member of it was not more than a few years. Up until the Second Vatican Council, lay people were defined merely as non-clerics or non-religious. These are two negations which affirm nothing. For centuries, at least in official church documents (real life has other rhythms and other directions), lay people did not have any positive identity. The worst aspect of this was the fact that lay people represented the great majority of God's people. It was the Second Vatican Council that made an important contribution to the awakening of the lay vocation. Despite this situation, Lazzati knew how to develop his ideas in practice, and thanks in part to his work the innovations at Vatican II were made possible.

Another area where he differed from the thinking in the Society he had joined was on the question of evangelisation. Lazzati thought that one must not confine Christian action merely within Christian organisations and within the "Catholic world", but that one must bring one's spiritual experiences into one’s work and everyday life, including one’s professional life. In simple words, we could say he wanted to get out from the circle of preaching to the converted in order to return to what evangelisation originally meant, that is, to carry Christ to all people "to the men of the country and the city, tenants of humble houses and of great palaces, proletarians, intellectuals and merchants, those who are unhappy and on whom the light of truth has not yet shone, those enslaved in pagan darkness" 9.

Lazzati left the Society of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ in 1938, in order to establish in 1939 a new association, "Milites Christi", which would later become the Secular Institute of Christ the King. According to canon law, the association was seen as part of the family of the oblates of St Charles, which was organised with the support of the archbishop of Milan, Ildefonso Schuster. Despite the open distrust of the Church in that period of the idea of consecrated lay life, Schuster supported Lazzati greatly, giving him his advice, friendship and encouragement.

In this period of his life, Lazzati was teaching at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, and at the same time was nominated as the head of the Milanese Youth Catholic Action movement. In this second role, he gained the opportunity of introducing his project for a profound formation of the consciences of these young people, and for the evangelisation of other young people through them. Although it might have seemed a simple project, it turned out to be very burdensome. In many ways, Lazzati was ahead of his time, and other Christians could not follow what he was doing. For a start, one must remember that these were the years of the fascist regime in Italy, and that despite the Concordat with the Vatican and the Lateran pacts, Catholic movements were not fully tolerated, especially those that formed young people with values which differed greatly from the dominant fascist ideology.

Shortly after this point, in June 1940, Italy joined the war on Germany's side, when France was about to fall and the war seemed virtually over. It was an opportunistic move, with Mussolini hoping for territorial spoils. Italy's initial attack on the French Alps in June 1940 was soon cut short by the Franco-German armistice. For Italy the real war began only in October 1940, when Mussolini attacked Greece in a disastrous campaign that obliged the Germans to rescue the Italian forces in 1941. The Germans also had to lend support in the hard-fought campaigns of North Africa. In eastern Africa, the Italians lost their extensive empire, including Ethiopia, early in 1941, and their 250,000 troops in Russia, sent to help the German invaders, suffered untold hardships. In short, for Italy, the war was an almost unrelieved succession of military disasters. To this outcome the inadequacy of the generals and low morale of the Italian army contributed much, since they were fighting far from home in causes that few of them believed in. Also civilian morale was very low, food shortages were endemic, and hundreds of thousands of people had fled to the countryside.

The lectures that Lazzati gave in those years at the Catholic University of Milan allowed him to make several friendships with people inspired by the Christian ideal who had begun to ask themselves how the country could be rid of fascism and how to raise the human dignity of those who had lost it under dictatorship. This group of Catholic professors and researchers gained new ideas and inspiration from the Christmas Radio broadcast given by Pope Pius XII in 1942, and began to reflect on the tragedies caused by modern totalitarian regimes. They worked on the idea of a culture whose end was to create a new world order inspired by the values of peace and democracy. This group was organised by Prof. Padovani, who invited the best Catholic minds of that epoch to his house. The preparation that these people received through these discussions allowed them to become a point of moral reference for many, and ensured that they would have an active role in the postwar reconstruction of the country during its first legislature.

Fascism had excluded many from an active share in political life, and above all, the young who had been formed in the fascist organizations did not have any idea about democracy. But as Lazzati also observed, there had already been a lack of Catholic presence in public life prior to fascism. Indeed, Catholics had been positively kept out of politics in Italy for a significant period of time. Not only had unification and democracy been late in coming to Italy in comparison to several other countries of Europe, but there had been further obstacles to Catholic involvement in politics, such as the violent loss of the Papal States and the subsequent "Non expedit" of Pio IX (1871) that prevented Catholics from participating in elections or the running of the state. On top of this, the struggle against modernism had halted any and every initiative to develop a political culture which was respectful of the laity in the true sense of the word, and furthermore had produced much controversy among lay Catholics and between the laity and the hierarchy. In the context of all this, Luigi Sturzo had made his valiant attempt to develop a culture integrating Catholics into political life, along with the creation of the appropriate institutions to do so, but this attempt was sadly cut short by the arrival of fascism.

Lazzati recognised that this serious void could not be put right over night: "to know how to think politically is a difficult thing, because political judgment involves putting together a range of complex factors; it must take account of various factors and must appraise them all together and not one by one; it must take account of the historical situation in which the judgment is made and it must know that genuine political proposals are those that, beyond technical effectiveness, have real human value" 10.

It is in this group that we find Lazzati next to Amintore Fanfani, Giuseppe Dossetti, Carlo Colombo, Giorgio La Pira and the philosophers Gustavo Bontadini and Sofia Vanni Rovighi. Unfortunately, because of the wartime situation, the notes kept of the discussions of this group have been lost. The most important idea to emerge from their discussions, however, was a very high view of politics, as opposed to an purely instrumental view. From that time onwards, Lazzati was further convinced that "politics, by which I mean the construction of the human city, is the highest human activity, that which should create that common good that is meant to be the condition of the maximum development of every person" 11. The group, however, also acknowledged that there was a serious lack of preparation on the part of Italian Catholics for entering into political life. Consequently, they decided that once the war had ended, the members of the group would not enter politics themselves but would devote themselves to the political and cultural formation of the Catholic laity. A third important element which emerged from their discussions is well put by Aminotore Fanfani: "we came to the same conclusion as Maritain: parties of Christian inspiration, yes, so-called Catholic parties, no" 12.

By the summer of 1943 the Italian position was hopeless. Northern and Eastern Africa had been lost; the northern Italian cities were being regularly bombed; war production was minimal, and morale had collapsed. So, too, had the Fascist regime, which could no longer command any obedience. Through intermediaries, the King began sounding out Allied terms, which included the ousting of Mussolini. In July 1943 the Allies invaded Sicily, and within a few weeks they controlled the island. Over July 24 - 25 the Fascist Grand Council met in Rome for the first time since the beginning of the war and passed a motion asking the king to resume his full constitutional powers, which necessarily involved dismissing Mussolini. The king did so on July 25th and installed Marshal Pietro Badoglio as prime minister. The army took over the key positions in Rome; the Duce was arrested, and the main Fascist institutions were dissolved.

The war was thus in a critical phase, and at this point, Lazzati was called up. On 8th September 1943, when the Badoglio government signed an armistice with the allied forces abolishing the fascist regime and ending its support to Germany, the Italian soldiers in the territory controlled by German troops were left to the enemy's mercy, angered as they were by the 'Italian betrayal’. Lazzati was part of this group of abandoned troops. On 9th September, in the 5th Alpine barracks, a right-wing officer interrogated Lazzati and his colleagues, demanding that they decide whether to support the new fascist republic and so opt for an alliance with Germany, or whether they would accept imprisonment.

The choice of Lazzati was immediate and radical: he would go to the prison camp. "Nothing could justify joining up" 13, Lazzati would say later. With his choice of fidelity to his oath to the King and to the state, and his refusal to obey Hitler, his future was decided and he became a "voluntary member of the prison camp" 14. This was the choice of more than 600,000 soldiers, that is, 95% of those abandoned in North of Italy under German control. It is the only example from the Second World War of volunteers on a mass scale choosing to go to prison rather than compromise themselves. Lazzati had another reason for refusing. It was impossible for him to condone pacts with ideologies founded on violence and on the destruction of the human person that were completely opposite to his fervent Catholic nature.

Lazzati was deported as a prisoner of war to Germany. In the various concentration camps where he was placed, he managed to gather around himself numerous members of Catholic Action to which he would leave at his departure an intense program of spiritual life that would later help them work for the reconstruction of the country. The Germans tolerated cultural activities in the prison camp, but limited religious ones, and no political activities whatsoever were allowed. Lazzati, a professor by vocation, held courses on history that allowed him to sneak in religious matters, including some patristics, christology and general theology. He also instituted "Gospel Groups" (what we would call "Bible study groups" today) of around 15 people (small, so as not to be noticed), introducing meditations on the Gospel, recitation of the rosary, preparation of novenas and feast days, all of which ran alongside the spiritual exercises and the cultural formation he gave his fellow prisoners. His main goal was to involve the general population that in the previous regime had been purposely kept distant from any involvement in political activity. He wanted to form the spiritual and psychological potential of these people, so that joined together they would form the new strength of the nation and give the disillusioned youth of that time new values after the fascist failure, forging new, vigilant and active spirits 15.

Many among his fellow prisoners have recorded their memories of these dark times. The memories of Alexander Natta, a communist and then national secretary of the Italian Communist Party, are particularly revealing. Years after their imprisonment, Natta would remember Lazzati thus: "Our dialogue became more urgent when we turned to the great new theme of what kind of Italy was to be built on the ashes of defeat. Him, a Catholic, me, anti-clerical and communist, and other companions of different philosophical and political persuasions, we all came together to discuss, with the enthusiasm of builders, the characteristics, the foundations and the goals of a new national community… we needed to discuss a democracy of substance, a democracy based on dialogue and on solidarity among the protagonists of its rebirth…" 16. Natta did not forget the impression that Lazzati had made on him. Despite the ideological and political differences between them, in 1985 Natta would propose Lazzati as a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic.


A Christian mentality in politics

After the war, the conclusions drawn from the meetings at Padovani's house were reinforced by the experiences of the individual members of the group. Now the reconstruction of the country was to begin and the group of the "young professors" (professorini), despite what they had hoped for previously, were forced to enter into direct political activity. The urgent need for a Catholic presence in politics was highlighted by the popularity that the communists had gained in the country, which led to a highly probable "red" victory in the elections of 18th April 1948. This would have been understood as allowing the country to fall under Soviet domination. Such was the fear of this that even enclosed nuns left their enclosure to vote in opposition to communism.

Inside the Catholic "camp", Dossetti and his companions - Lazzati, La Pira, Moro and Fanfani – who were known as the "Dossettians", represented an unusual phenomenon. They tried to introduce a sense of political responsibility into the consciences of Catholics which would bind the demands of faith to those of politics within the heart of each person. Their idea of not participating directly in the political process without adequate preparation of the Catholic world had to be dropped in the face of the needs of the moment. Still, Dossetti, for instance, did not enter politics voluntarily. He is on record as saying that: "I never tried to enter politics. I have always said this; it is an indisputable truth. I entered politics after a car accident. It was the Christian Democrats who called me to Rome on July 19th for the first National Congress of the party. I didn't know anybody, nor was I known. I arrived late, because I had had a car accident at Grosseto. As soon as I arrived, Piccioni told me: "you will be the vicesegretario of the Christian Democractic Party." In other words, they had elected him before he had arrived, and at that stage, it was too difficult to refuse the choice of the assembly 17.

Dossetti called on Lazzati and the other members of their group to help him with this new and unexpected duty. Dossetti and Lazzati, among the others, were thus thrust into politics by the circumstances of their country which required the mobilisation of all available people and resources for its rebuilding. Dossetti, however, was in the frontline and involved directly in the drafting of the new constitution; Lazzati was more of a spiritual and moral leader of the group. In the period of the writing of the Constitution, Lazzati’s task, along with that of La Pira, Dossetti, Fanfani and Moro, was to ensure that the Constitution of the Republic maintained a recognizable link to the values and ideas that had already been developed in the preceding years by the group of the professorini.

The final version of the Constitution shows clearly the decisive influence this group had on it, especially in its first part, "Principles", which includes a statement of the fundamental principles of democracy. Article 2 runs as follows: "The Republic recognises and guarantees the inviolable rights of the person [. . .] and requires of him the fulfilment of his inalienable duties of political, economic and social solidarity" 18. Italian and European constitutional scholars have recognized that other modern constitutions do not include such a balanced fusion of traditional Christian values with different cultural expressions of human rights and needs. Openness to other cultures was crucial to Lazzati, and he would say of it: "characteristic of the mediation between cultures is that it takes place through dialogue". This dialogue and openness was especially important in the discussions on the Constitution: "dialogue from morning to evening and, at times, from evening to morning. And it was not a dialogue with those born yesterday, but with the most authoritative representatives of the different cultural strands in society. The dialogue had to be conducted with great patience, trying to make everyone understand that no one wanted to impose anything that did not answer to real human needs. And so, one began with some "noes" and finished with some "yesses". The result of those dialogues is to be found in the first articles of our Constitution and I would like to comment on some of them to show how much of the true richness of humanity there is in them to which is supported also by the teaching of the Church" 19.

Beyond this direct political involvement, the Dossettians wanted to give a cultural soul to politics and above all to Democrazia Cristiana (DC). After this initial involvement in the drafting of the Constitution, they refused further political office, despite every effort on the part of Alcide De Gasperi, the postwar leader of Democrazia Cristiana. Instead, they considered themselves the "conscience" of the party, able to criticise it. In particular, the professorini were concerned about the need to make links with the left wing parties, which at that stage inevitably meant with the communists. They were not ingenuous about this, however: "None of us had any illusions about the reformability of communism, but what we could not do was to deny that a great number of the ordinary people looked to the communist party for help; our job was to show that the Catholics were no less interested in their needs and in the raising of their human dignity" 20.

The Dossettians succeeded in getting the party to set up an Office of Studies and Information, which was not regarded in a positive light by many of the active politicians who themselves wanted to be incharge of the generation of new ideas. To deal with the lack of preparation of the Catholic laity, the Dossettians also founded the "Civitas Humana Association." With this title, they hoped to underline the difference between acting inside the Church and acting beyond it, the latter being in collaboration with all the other forces of society in order to bring about the construction of the "human city on a human scale" 21. The association began by publicising the important theories of the members of the Dossettian group. An important vehicle for this was the foundation of the journal "Cronache Sociali" (Social Chronicles) that began its publication on May 10th 1947 and finished on October 31st 1951; for Lazzati this journal represented a way of giving people a formation for action in the cultural sphere. Above all, Cronache Sociali gave Lazzati the chance to begin to spread the philosophical ideas of Maritain that were so dear to him 22.

The political thought of Lazzati that we find on the pages of "Cronache Sociali" can be synthesised by the phrase already cited, "to construct the human city on a human scale", which is clearly not another form of Christendom, despite the deeply catholic basis of his ideas. This approach gained him the respect of many people who differed from him in ideology but who appreciated the spirit of this idea and the truth behind it. It also gained him criticism, mostly from individuals and groups within the Church who were opposed to any kind of distinction between political action and action as a Catholic (see below for a discussion of Lazzati’s ideas about this distinction). During this period, Lazzati undertook many missions in order to help develop a political culture with a strong ethical and religious foundation. These missions were organised in collaboration with the Information Office of Catholic Action. In all, Lazzati carried out 298 missions, of which a good 168 were in the south of Italy. At the same time as he was doing this work, the increasing difficulties that the Dossettians were having with the leadership of Democrazia Cristiana confirmed Lazzati in the idea that the most important thing to do was to give a good Christian political formation to the young. Part of the problem between the two groups was the lack of understanding between the mass of the population and the leaders of the party, mostly because the ordinary people had no idea at all about Christian political involvement. In the end, the differences in the DC between the leaders and the Dossettians lead to the complete withdrawal of the latter’s members from active politics. At the same time, Lazzati had to deal with the initiative of Prof. Luigi Gedda, head of Catholic Action at that time, who wanted to see the restoration of a fully Christian society, brought about by the direct involvement of Catholic Action in the political field. The basic difference between Lazzati and Gedda was that the former did not see the relationship between the church and the world as one of "mundus sub ecclesia", but rather as the relationship between the soul and the body. Lazzati conceived the church like soul of the world, or like the light, salt and yeast of the parables of Jesus, almost predicting the formula which would be used by Vatican II "ecclesia in mundo huius temporis".

The Dossettians made a serious attempt to introduce Christian values into politics, though their project was not fully successful at the practical level. Nevertheless, they provided a kind of "soul" to the party, and a kind of critical conscience, as well as providing a kind of "laboratory of ideas" where ideas were developed and enriched. In the last sense, they were also important for the influence that they had over Vatican II.


The "human city"

Having left the university after 40 years of labour, Lazzati was finally able to devote himself to the realisation of the idea born during the reflections of the professorini at the house of Padovani. On October 4th 1985 in Milan the association with the name "The Human City" was formally founded, with the intention "of elaborating, promoting, and spreading a political culture that, animated from within by the Christian conception of the human person and of the world, can develop a commitment to the values of democracy" 23. These values are those expressed in the fundamental principles of the Italian Constitution which deal with the complex demands of a society in transformation. To this association Lazzati, by now free from other appointments, could devote himself, developing the ideas of the project he first began to undertake with the association "Civitas Humana". By this time, the experience of politics, often undertaken in the name of Christianity, had left many feeling disappointed and frustrated. The lack of positive results had caused many to become disappointed and disaffected, with a consequent distancing from or indifference towards, if not a downright refusal of, the world of politics.

Lazzati insisted on the cause of this as the lack of formation of lay people who should "seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will" 24. The "Association of The Human City" foresaw the setting up of different kinds of projects, such as cultural centres, schools of formation and centres for the study of social and political issues. As his "political manifesto" for the association, Lazzati published the book entitled "The Human City: to build, as Christians, the human city on a human scale" 25. In this work, recalling Maritain, Lazzati constantly underlines the distinction between "acting like a Christian" and "acting as a Christian". A person acts as a Christian within the eternal polis (the Church), whereas he acts like Christian within the temporal polis, orienting it to the common good. Lazzati underlines that the Christian must always act like Christian, in politics as much as anywhere else 26. Lazzati also speaks again in this book of the need "to build the human city on a human scale". Let us take a look at each element of this phrase. "City" here means the Aristotelian "polis" or the thomistic "civitas" which does not indicate the state as such but the natural community of human beings. This community has as its goal or end the common good, that is, the good of all its members, the full development of all people, over and above any ideology. As already discussed, Lazzati considered political activity as the noblest of human activities, partly because the construction of polis, according to Lazzati, is directly willed by God since the "city" is part of his plan for creation. Therefore, it is the duty of Christians to build it up, in cooperation with all people of good will; it is a duty from which Christians cannot withdraw themselves.

Considering political activity as "constructing as Christians the human city on the human scale", Lazzati maintained that the term to construct means here to work together. But the more difficult problem to be faced it is that related to the expression as Christians. Lazzati considers politics to be a "secular" activity; in other words, the believer is not to behave in the political sphere as a believer, as if he or she were involved in some kind of direct evangelization, but because as a believer, he or she is a person among other persons. Even if the Christian is motivated and animated by Revelation, this does not however guarantee him or her any specific political competence. Lazzati often repeated that to be a good Christian is not the same as to be a good cobbler 27. In every case there is need for specific and professional preparation that guarantees the necessary technical competence to carry out the profession. In this case, Catholics need to be formed in order "to think politically". Politics is part of the life of all faithful, not least because every human activity has a political dimension.

The last element of this phrase indicates that the human city must be built on a human scale, which Lazzati explains as meaning that it must be built "according to the measure of the complete temporal needs of man, both Christian and not Christian" 28. Such a concept is linked to the recognition of the autonomy of earthly realities: since "material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws. These must be respected, as should be the methods proper to every science and techique. Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God" 29.



Giuseppe Lazzati certainly has not been the only one to think and to reflect on the relationship between Christians and the world, trying above all to vindicate specific rights and the true place of lay people in engaging the faith with earthly realities. His reflection must be put together with, and read alongside, that of other authors such as Congar, Chenu, Journet and Maritain.

Yet his mature thought developed along a difficult path, above all during the crucial pre-council years. His reflections are anything but banal repetition or simple and pious exhortations. His thought has its own value, and sheds a light that is reflected in the documents of Vatican II. Lazzati, in fact, must be seen as part of the post-war avant-garde of Catholic social movements in Italy.



1 I would like to give my special thanks to Sr. Helen Alford op, for her collaboration in preparing this article and for her help in its translation. Without her encouragment, this text could not have been written.

2 G. LAZZATI, La città dell’uomo, AVE, Roma 1984, pp. 10, 23, 24. (All translations in this text are made by myself).

3 M.C. Foresio Daprà - La santo Stanislao di Milano - NED, Milano 1983, p. 23.

4 L. Pazzaglia - Testimone della fedeltà a Dio e agli uomini, in A. Oberti (a cura), Giuseppe Lazzati: vivere da laico. Appunti per una biografia e testimonianze, AVE, Roma 1986, p.187.

5 M. Rizzi, Lazzati e la letteratura cristiana antica, in A. OBERTI, Lazzati, un cristiano nella città dell’uomo, AVE, Roma 1996. p.100.

6 GIUSEPPE LAZZATI - Teofilo d’Alessandria, Vita e Pensiero, Milano 1935.

7 Lettera a Diogneto, cap. VI. Editrice Cens, Milano 1994.

8 For the fullest information on the studies of Lazzati see particularly: AA. VV. Paradoxos politea. Studi patristici in onore di Giuseppe Lazzati, Vita e Pensiero, Milano 1979 pp. 27-34.

9 A OBERTI, Lazzati, un cristiano nella città dell’uomo, op. cit., p. 86.

10 G. LAZZATI, Pensare politicamente I, AVE, Roma 1984. p. 3.

11 G. LAZZATI, La città dell’uomo, AVE, Roma 1984 p. 26.

12 A. FANFANI, Partiti di ispirazione cristiana e chiesa cattolica, Humanitas, 1946, p. 382.

13 G. MARTINI, Insieme nel Lager, in A. OBERTI (a cura), Giuseppe Lazzati vivere da laico, op. cit., p. 109.

14 G. MARTINI, Insieme nel Lager, in A. OBERTI (a cura), Giuseppe Lazzati vivere da laico, op. cit., p. 110.

15 For more information about this period of Lazzati’s life see: A. Oberti, Giuseppe Lazzati nei Lager tedeschi 1923 - 1945, In Dialogo, Milano 1990; M. DORINI, Giuseppe Lazzati: gli anni del lager. AVE, Roma 1989.

16 A. NATTA, Ricordo di Giuseppe Lazzati, in A. OBERTI (a cura), Giuseppe Lazzati: vivere da laico, op. cit., p. III.

17 A. OBERTI, Lazzati e Dossetti, in Dossier Lazzati 12, AVE Roma 1997 p. 48.

18 G. LAZZATI, Noi, comunistelli di sacrestia, in Dossier Lazzati 12, AVE, Roma 1997, p. 70.

19 Interview published in: Giuseppe Lazzati. Il cristiano nella città dell’uomo, Quaderni dell’Associazione ‘Giuseppe Lazzati’, n.1, Marra Editore, Rovito, 1989, pp. 9-22.

20 From an interview with Giuseppe Lazzati by Enzo Magrì, now in Dossier Lazzati 12, AVE Roma 1997, p. 67.

21 R. ZUNNINO, La profezia di Giuseppe Lazzati. Rubbettino Catanzaro 1998, p. 16.

22 L. PAZZAGLIA Testimone della fedeltà a Dio e agli uomini, in A. OBERTI (a cura), Giuseppe Lazzati: vivere…, op. cit. pp. 186-206 esp. pp. 193-194.

23 G. LAZZATI, La città dell’uomo, op.cit p. 28.

24 Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, Dominican Publications, Dublin 1996, chp. 31.

25 Published by AVE in 1984.

26 G. LAZZATI, La città dell’uomo, op. cit. p. 32.

27 G. LAZZATI, La città dell’uomo, op. cit. p. 36.

28 G. LAZZATI, La città dell’uomo, op. cit. p. 32.

29 Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, cap. 36. Dominican Publications, Dublin 1996.


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