Book Highlights 10 Modern Catholic Leaders

From Adenauer to Shuman to a Kennedy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

MADRID, Spain, NOV. 26, 2004 ( A new book highlights the testimony of 10 modern-day Catholic politicians and public figures whose lives continue to inspire observers and historians.

«Gospel of the Bold,» published by LibrosLibres and recently presented in Madrid, is designed to «take a look at the roots of a Catholic’s public commitment at a time afflicted by numerous uncertainties.»

The work offers biographical portraits of Konrad Adenauer, Baudouin I of Belgium, Georges Bidault, Alcide de Gasperi, Ángel Herrera Oria, Robert F. Kennedy, Aldo Moro, Giorgio La Pira, Robert Shuman and Enrique Shaw.

They are 10 figures who — explain co-authors Gustavo Villapalos and Enrique San Miguel — «played an extraordinary role during the most critical period of the 20th century throughout its central decades and were determinant in the battle against totalitarianism, in the genesis of European political integration, in the creation of the welfare state in Europe, and in surmounting the dynamic of blocs.»

San Miguel told ZENIT that the «testimonies of politicians who not only act without giving up their beliefs, but who participate in public life as a consequence of the moral imperative of every man to be useful to his fellow men, is an essential requisite of community life itself.»

In fact, San Miguel noted that «in Europe at the beginning of the 21st century, the testimonies of Catholic politicians were vital for the preservation of the democratic system and of the very plurality of public life.»

Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967), president of the Christian Democratic Party, was elected chancellor of West Germany in 1949 and re-elected on three occasions. He took Germany into the European Community.

Robert Schuman (1886-1963), head of the French government in 1947-1948, is considered one of the «Fathers of Europe» for his promotion of the European Coal and Steel Community. His beatification is being considered.

Italian statesman Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954) held the presidency of his country’s government between 1945 and 1953. He is in the process of canonization.

Giorgio La Pira (1904-1977), who headed Christian Democracy in 1951, was the first Christian mayor of the Italian city of Florence. He is also in the process of canonization.

For his part, Georges Bidault of France (1899-1983) lived through the world wars and held various political offices. He was one of the authors of the Marshall Plan.

These five above-mentioned Catholics suffered Nazi persecution.

The book also covers the careers of two other Catholic politicians, who were killed: Aldo Moro (Italy, 1916-1978), as leader of Christian Democracy, became prime minister from 1963-68, and Robert Kennedy (1925-1968), U.S. senator from New York.

San Miguel told ZENIT: «Oscar Wilde used to say that, in the end, a just man is a nuisance for the whole world. And the Catholic testimony of figures such as Adenauer, De Gasperi, La Pira and Schuman is really overwhelming.»

«The public presence and participation of Catholics does not obey, cannot obey, a complaisant view of a world in which fundamental rights and liberties are systematically violated, beginning with the right to life,» he said.

«Charity is the principle of public action,» the co-author continued. «Catholic leaders of the central decades of the 20th century realized that materialist speeches represented the negation of the grandeur of human dignity. Particularly, the collectivist speeches of totalitarianism, but also the conceptions of the political order subordinated to the laws of the market.»

«That is the reason the market social economy was born in Germany. The so-called welfare state, and its policies of social and territorial balance, emerged with the governments of Christian humanism,» San Miguel said.

«But the dream of a more cohesive society, backed by principles, and not interests, was also extended to the political shaping of Christian universalism, beginning with European integration, basically carried out by Catholic leaders, who believed firmly in brotherhood among peoples as the guarantee of justice and peace. The results are formidable,» he said.

The authors believe that the book would be incomplete if it were limited to politicians dedicated to partisan action.

In this connection, the figure of King Baudouin of Belgium (1930-1993) or of Cardinal Ángel Herrera Oria (1886-1968), for example, are not constricted in the strict margins of ordinary political action.

John Paul II presents Baudouin I — king of Belgium since he was 21 — as an example for the citizens of his country. Herrera Oria, a force behind the newspaper El Debate and the Library of Christian Authors («Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos» — BAC), founded Popular Action in 1931. Ordained a priest in 1940, he was elevated to cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1964.

The book also proposes a figure such as Enrique Shaw (1921-1962), who made the Christian message present in the labor and business realms, changing work relations, transforming the idea of productive activities, recommending respect and fraternity.

When he was just 30, Shaw founded the Christian Association of Business Leaders in Argentina. His cause of beatification is under way.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation