About Benito Mussolini's purported atheism24/6/2021
by Eugenio Battaglia
Mussolini was born in a family where the mother was a devout Catholic and the father was a socialist mangiapreti (priest-eater). Mussolini at first was under the influence of the mother but then grew up under the powerful influence of his blacksmith father. Furthermore, the period passed in a strict religious school of the Salesian Fathers, from which at the end of the final exams the principal recommended that he should go somewhere else, did not help his youthful devotion.
The Mussolini of this period is remembered especially for his pronouncement during a socialist manifestation: "If God exists, I give Him two minutes to strike me down." But apparently God had something else to do at the time.
In any case, the venerable (from 1850) magazine La Civiltà Cattolica in an article about Mussolini's Catholicism at first calls him "a devout atheist" but then remembers his sincere private devotion and confirms that as PM he was always very respectful to the Church. See the famous Concordato of 1929 which granted the Vatican the status of a foreign country plus many privileges (too many?). However the following year he practically granted the same privileges to the Italian Jewish community.
In conversations with Emil Ludwig in 1932, Mussolini said: "When young I was not a believer, I had prayed to God to save my mother but she died." Then he added: "In recent years, my faith has strengthened inside me." Ludwig asked if he had a Christian faith and the answer was: "Men can pray to God in many ways: It is imperative that each one be free to worship at his own way:"
On 19 December 1925, he married the great, admirable Donna Rachele in a Catholic church, but they were already married according to a civil ceremony in 1915.
The famous Don Ennio Innocenti published a book confirming the Catholic faith of Mussolini, quoting a small note written by Mussolini from his reclusion on 31 August 1943: "I was born Catholic, and I want to die Catholic. I do not want a funeral or any funerary honors."
Mussolini at his home in his final years kept Giuseppte Ricciotti's The Life of Jesus Christ next to his bed. Fra Ginepro da Pompeiana's 1945 book I confessed Mussolini (published posthumously in 1973) relates among other things that he confessed Mussolini a few days before his murder, but it is known that Mussolini also went to confession after the execution of his son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano.
Fra Ginepro, born Giuseppe Conio, 1903-1962, wrote many books about his experience as a military chaplain from the war of Abyssinia through the RSI period.
It has been reported that Pope Pius XII stated in 1952, "Mussolini is the greatest man known by me, and without any doubt among the most good. On this matter, I have many proofs to demonstrate it."
Therefore as Mussolini wanted: he was born and died in the Catholic faith having, however, also experienced a short period of genuine atheism. By the way, he did not have a funeral or funerary honors, but many people still pay homage to his tomb.