Giuseppe Dossetti

Bologna Italy Giuseppe Lazzati
Giuseppe Dossetti

Giuseppe Dossetti (13 February 1913 – 15 December 1996) was an Italian jurist, a politician and from 1958 onward a Catholic priest.

The antifascist and politician

Dossetti was born in Genoa.

When he was young he joined Azione Cattolica ("Catholic Action") and he obtained a law degree at 21 years of age. Moved by profound political and moral beliefs, antifascist, he joined the Italian Resistance under the name of "Benigno" and became President of the Committee for National Liberation of Reggio Emilia, even if he always refused to use weapons.

When fascist dictatorship in Italy ended, he became professor of Ecclesiastic law at University of Modena.

His political career was very fast. In 1945 he became vice-secretary of Democrazia Cristiana and on 2 June 1946 was elected to become part of the "Costituente" (the political body in charge of drafting the new Italian republican constitution), of which he became one of the most active members. Exactly he took part of the first Subcommission in charge of the "rights and duties of the citizens". In 1946, with Amintore Fanfani, Giorgio La Pira and Giuseppe Lazzati (described, not without a bit of deprecation, as "little professors") he founded the association Civitas Humana.

Dossetti was anyway an atypical politician. He decided to not rerun for the 1948 elections and changed idea only to obey to Monsignor Montini (Pope Paolo VI). His evangelist positions were more or less opposed to the Alcide De Gasperi's more pragmatic ones. He was against NATO accession of Italy, which he considered dangerous, and in favour of social reforms aimed at helping the poorer parts of the population. Dossetti was presented to the Congress with over one third consensus. The contraposition with De Gasperi was very clear. He accepted the challenge and returned as deputy secretary of the party. During the following years he was actively involved in working at many reforms, including the Cassa del Mezzogiorno.

He left politics in 1951 and he returned for a while in 1956 just to run for mayor in Bologna, in which City Council he will stay for the following two years.

The priest

Dossetti's grave, in the cemetery at Monte Sole

In the meantime, on 6 January 1956, he took religious vows after that, some months before, the Church authorities approved the monastic community of the "Piccola famiglia dell'Annunziata", founded by him and based on "silence, prayer, work and poverty". After three years he was ordained a priest.

During the 1960s, he contributed as a collaborator of Cardinal Lercaro but since his presence was not welcome by some sectors of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, he chose to retire in silence. According to Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Dossetti's personal role during the Second Vatican Council was of great importance, because he contributed to making the Council less conservative and traditional than what was originally planned.[1]

During the following years, his community expanded: from the first section near Bologna, in Terrasanta, to Giordania in Casaglia di Montesole.

He reappeared in public in 1994, when he expressed publicly his worries for the proposed modifications of the Italian constitution.

Dossetti died two years later, on 15 December 1996.

Books by Giuseppe Dossetti (in Italian)

Books about politics

Books about religion

Credo in un solo Dio padre onnipotente. Il problema di Dio, il mondo spirituale e l'idolatria, il fine soprannaturale dell'uomo, San Lorenzo, Reggio Emilia, 1990 Credo in un solo Signore Gesù Cristo, San Lorenzo, Reggio Emilia, 1991 Credo in un solo Signore Gesù Cristo. Figlio di Dio crocifisso, San Lorenzo, Reggio Emilia, 1992

Il Vaticano II. Frammenti di una riflessione, Il Mulino, 1996

Books about law