The Concordat of 1929

When Mussolini offered to open negotiations with the Catholic Church, there were a variety of reasons for why the church should be in favour of an agreement. The main reason may have been because it was clear by 1926 that Mussolini’s regime was going to last, and so the Church wished to protect its position within society, but as well as this they wanted to bring an end to hostility between the youth organisations. As well as this, they shared the same opinions about family values, women and contraception.

After three years of negotiation, the Lateran Pacts were finally decided. The papacy officially recognised the loss of the Papal States in 1870, and in return were given official recognition for Vatican City as a separate sovereign state. There was also significant financial compensation agreed for the loss of the papal territories in 1870.

Catholicism was also recognised as the only official religion of Italy, and religious education was made compulsory at schools. Both teachers and textbooks had to be approved by the Catholic Church and the Church gained right of censorship over books newspapers and films. Divorce was outlawed and all marriages had to be done with a religious ceremony. These were among a whole host of other concessions that Mussolini made to the Church to try and appease them.

Despite allowing significant concessions, the Lateran Pacts proved to be a good decision by Mussolini as it reassured the majority of Italians that were Catholic, as well as giving him prestige, being the person to achieve something no other government could in the 60 years that unified Italy had existed. An election was held following the Lateran Pacts to act as a referendum, and Mussolini achieved a massive majority, showing its popularity among the people.

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