Italian priest, sociologist, politician, publicist, Modernist; b. Montesampietrangeli (Ascoli Piceno), Aug. 27, 1870; d. Rome, March 12, 1944. After ordination (1893) he studied at the University of Rome, founded the Catholic periodical Vita nuova, participated in the origins of the Federazione universitaria cattolica italiana, and adhered enthusiastically to the Catholic social movement and to Christian Democracy. Cultura sociale, a periodical begun by him in 1898, advocated a new political and social direction for Catholic activity. Soon he came into conflict with the leadership of the Opera dei Congressi and its president, Giambattista Paganuzzi, and guided a group, composed mostly of young persons, that was eager for independence and for predominance in the entire Catholic movement. Murri was unable to reach an understanding even with the second (social) group of the Opera dei Congressi, the one most open and disposed to collaborate, because of the ever more direct intervention of the Holy See in the Catholic social movement during the last years of Pope Leo XIII. The widening of the conflict induced Pope Pius X to suppress the Opera dei Congressi and to reorganize on other bases Italian catholic action. Murri became discontented, partly because he was not placed in charge, and founded the Lega democratica nazionale, condemned by Pope Pius X in 1906. Passing from the political to the doctrinal field, Murri showed himself favorable to philosophico-theological modernism, in rebellion against the hierarchy. In 1907 Murri was suspended a divinis, and in 1909 he was excommunicated. Some of his best disciples then abandoned him. He continued his conflict in the new Rivista di cultura, the organ of the Lega democratica nazionale. Turning again to political life, he was elected a deputy (1909) and joined the extreme left. After losing all his political influence, he devoted himself to writing for the liberal press. Murri was a very talented man and a prolific author who could arouse enthusiasm, but who was incapable of directing a movement or collaborating with one. He returned to the Church in 1943.
Bibliography: p. scoppola, "R. Murri e la prima democrazia cristiana," Il Mulino 6 (1957): 99–115; "Il modernismo politico in Italia: La Lega democratica nazionale," Rivista storica italiana 69 (1957): 61–109; Dal Neoguelfismo alla Democrazia cristiana (2d ed. Rome 1961); Crisi modernista e rinnovamento cattolico in Italia (Bologna 1961). b. brogi, La Lega democratica nazionale (Rome 1959).