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EDITORIAL
from issue no. 07/08 - 2011

The DC and the charm of the name ‘Christian’


While there was strong concern about the defense against communism, the thrust was positive in character: it was
the fascination that the name ‘Christian’ managed to inspire in everything that might be the unfolding of the daily life for each one of us


by Giulio Andreotti


Alcide De Gasperi with Giulio Andreotti

Alcide De Gasperi with Giulio Andreotti

 

The DC, the Christian Democrat party, was to me – and I believe also to many others who were militant in it – the constant invitation to consider as not random what happens day after day, as many facts unrelated to each other, but rather to consider everything as connected, as in a spider web, something that enables one to grasp the deep meaning of things that happen and pass.

In this book, a brief revisitation of some of the highlights of Demo-Christian history, by Giovanni Di Capua and Paolo Messa, I found mentioned my first meeting with De Gasperi. I have had several opportunities to tell of it: I had never seen De Gasperi and I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t come from a family that was busy in politics. Whereas De Gasperi had noticed me as I was president of the Federation of Catholic University Students. One day I was in the Vatican Library browsing through the records of the Papal Navy for an essay, when a stranger addressed me and asked me if I had nothing better to do, and then went off with a certain coldness. I didn’t know that the stranger was De Gasperi, but I was to meet him a few days later when Giuseppe Spataro said “Come with me, De Gasperi wants to meet you”. I’d be crazy to say that already I was imagining what would spring from that meeting, but everything was new around us young people and had a charm hard to explain, but was very much present in our minds.

The early postwar years were exciting, and it’s simplistic to say that the only purpose of the DC and what held it together was to hold back the communist threat. While there was strong concern about the defense against communism, the thrust was positive in character: it was the fascination that the name ‘Christian’ managed to inspire in everything that might be the unfolding of the daily life for each one of us.

One lesson that emerges from the history of the DC, and that can be valid even today, is that without a reference point that goes beyond the occasional, the contingent, it’s almost impossible to create a new political entity. The way through to the creation of a new political movement cannot initially be organizational, so much so that the founding fathers of the DC started out from ideas, from the programmatic Code of Camaldoli. If there is no moral, I would say even spiritual, basis it is difficult to attract people and especially young people.

In the years of the DC we had many crises, but nowadays there is less theoretical and cultural impetus, and greater material pressure. Knowing how to look upwards was a habit that perhaps we lost on the road.

In the book by Di Capua and Messa the problem of currents within the DC also emerges. Even the latter could be a cultural and spiritual stimulus (some important reforms, such as that of agriculture and the Law for the South were due to the currents), but sadly they could be the cause of dramatic splits, setting off one against another. De Gasperi didn’t want them because, instead of activating a contest in positive fashion, they could trigger ruinous rivalry in a “business” spirit, which is the last thing needed in this matter.

Despite my long militancy I never felt an outsider in the DC, I was attracted by feeling, as well as by reason, and I never thought that my path could have been different from that. There was always an incentive to move forward without being weakened by too much looking back. Even now I believe the stance to take is that of always looking ahead, or better still upwards. This “looking upwards” enables me to make a remark on an aspect that is dealt with in the book: the key to understanding the relationship there was between the DC and the Church lies in the people involved. One has to bear in mind the stature of some of the clergy with whom we grew up and went some road together. The habit they had – Montini was an example – of being able to look at problems not only in their material, contingent, context. They were able to look over our heads and for that reason were a step ahead, they knew how to look upwards.

Let me conclude: there is great advantage in going back over the history of the DC, in order to take thought and avoid the danger today of taking what is absolutely marginal as essential and vice versa. The times that pass always bring something new, but woe if we believe we are at the beginning of creation. There are times when taking thought helps us not to forget what brought us thus far.



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