L’atteggiamento del vescovo di Fiume Antonio Santin nei confronti dell’autorità fascista (1933-1938)

ANNO 53 2012
Marko Medved

Bishop of Rijeka (Fiume) Antonio Santin and fascism (1933-1938)
This article focuses mainly on bishop Antonio Santin’s attitude towards fascism during his five-year episcopate in Rijeka (from 1933 to 1938). In the 1950’s, some historians began accusing Santin of being too close to Mussolini’s government during his episcopate in Rijeka, and later Trieste, suggesting he was partly responsible for depriving Croatians and Slovenians of their national rights, and for their Italianization. Some elements of that criticism are still repeated by Croatian and Slovenian secular and church historians today. In Santin’s case, as with other bishops of multiethnic dioceses in this area, one must draw a careful distinction between the free decisions of the Church authority and the decisions of the public (or military) administration. One will, in some cases, find that fascism influenced the Church; however, it should be emphasized that the Catholic hierarchy did not demand, let alone ask, that the government authorities behave unjustly toward the Slavic population as communist historiography claimed. However, Santin did accept some of the Mussolini regime’s propaganda, and responded by sending Italian priests to parishes with Slavic populations, and by imposing Latin as liturgical language. On the other side, he did communicate in Croatian and Slovenian to believers in the hinterland, unlike other Italian bishops of Rijeka, and he increased the number of non-Italians in the cathedral chapter.

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