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Grosoli, Giovanni

GROSOLI, GIOVANNI

Journalist, senator, Catholic lay leader; b. Carpi (Modena) Aug. 20, 1859; d. Assisi, Feb. 20, 1937. As a young man, after his studies and early religious and charitable activities in his city, he dedicated his life exclusively to the civic, religious, social, and political functions of the Catholic movement. He was among the developers and directors of the Catholic associations of the Romagna, and for several years the communal counselor for Ferrara. In 1902, Pope Leo XIII named him president of the Opera dei Congressi e Comitati Cattolici, which since 1875 had coordinated all public activity of Italian Catholics.

Because of his lively temperament and his origin in a region where social agitation was sharp and farreaching, Grosoli wanted to bring a new, progressive spirit into the Opera to counteract the more conservative attitude of the group of Venetians who were in control. After the death of Leo XIII (1903), Grosoli's approach did not find favor with the new Pontiff who disbanded the Opera (1904). For the rest of Pius X's pontificate, Grosoli remained outside the Catholic movement, dedicating himself completely to journalism. He organized the Società Editrice Romana, which began and managed the leading Catholic dailies of that time, especially Il corriere d'Italia (Rome), L'Italia (Milan), and L'Avvenire d'Italia (Bologna). This last paper was edited by Cesare Algranati ("Rocca d'Adria"), the principal support of Grosoli during these years. In 1912 Pius X declared the papers under the Societá "out of conformity with pontifical directives," a judgment reversed by the new Pope, Benedict XV, in 1914. In the meantime, however, Grosoli had spent virtually his entire inheritance to maintain the papers abandoned by the bishops.

In 1919, Grosoli was among the founders of the Italian Popular Party (the first political party of Italian Catholics). In 1920 he was its first representative in the Senate, but he abandoned the position in 1924 to found the Italian National Center, which was favorable to fascism. Among his reasons for joining the Fascist movement was his hope of saving the Bank of Rome and with it the Catholic dailies. When the National Center was dissolved following a clearcut reproof from the Holy See, Grosoli abandoned all activity, distributed his means to charitable organizations, and retired to Assisi where he lived his last years in Franciscan poverty. Before his death he destroyed his personal letters and documents.

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