Social theorist, historian, and political leader; b. Caltagirone, Sicily, Nov. 26, 1871; d. Rome, Aug. 8,1959. After his ordination in 1894, Sturzo decided on an academic career and proceeded to Rome for advanced study. It soon became clear to him, however, that his real interest lay in the world of hard political and social facts. Fortunately, his love of learning and his passion for ideas stayed with him, increasing rather than diminishing in strength as he became more and more immersed in practical affairs. In later years he praised Giambattista vico for divining "the intimate relationship between doing and knowing." This dedication to a life of action on the part of one given to reflection and contemplation was extraordinary, considering that Sturzo was also artistically inclined, showing exceptional talent in poetry and a marked inclination toward music.
During his years of reorientation, Leo XIII's rerum novarum served him as a practical handbook for social action. The teachings of the economist Giuseppe toniolo also proved invaluable in helping him to formulate his own ideas. From 1905 to 1920 Sturzo served as deputy mayor of Caltagirone. By 1919 he was in the national limelight as the moving spirit behind the Partito Popolare, forerunner of the Christian Democratic party. This was his master stroke in politics, for it gave Italy a democratic mass party of Catholic orientation. Moreover, by refusing to make religion a divisive factor in politics, the Popular Party paved the way for a normal development of political life between the extremes of clericalism and anticlericalism. Unfortunately, fascism proved too strong for it, for reasons which Sturzo treats in Italy and Fascism (New York 1927). Historians, awaiting archival evidence, attribute Sturzo's resignation from party leadership in 1923 to pressure from the Vatican. By 1926, when the party was dissolved by royal decree, Sturzo had been living in exile for two years. His prodigious effort to liberate democratic forces among the Catholics of Italy seemed to have come to nought, but he had laid the groundwork for the eventual triumph of Christian Democracy. It was the Christian Democratic party founded by Sturzo's former lieutenants that formed a democratic government after the defeat of fascism in World War II. In addition, his party served as an inspiration and model for other Christian Democratic parties in Europe and Latin America.
In 1946, after more than 20 years in England and the U.S., Sturzo returned in triumph to Italy and settled in Rome. In 1952 the President of the Republic of Italy named him a senator for life. His years of exile had proved beneficial in one way at least, for they had given him the leisure to gather in the fruits of a rich and manysided experience and to formulate his ideas and theories on society and history.
The general orientation of Sturzo's thought can be found in Inner Laws of Society (New York 1944), first published in French, under the title Essai de sociologie (Paris 1935). This work deals with society, not as an abstraction, but as a concrete reality evolving in time. Thrown into sharp relief is the view that there can be no true doctrine of man that ignores the historicosociological dimension, since human personality itself is in continuous evolution within a developing society. The International Community and the Right of War (New York 1930) throws light not only on the historical evolution of the international community, but also on the historico-sociological roots of war. Church and State (New York 1939) reveals the new polarization of forces introduced into Western life and culture through the appearance of a sociological novelty: an autonomous Church. This polarization is seen to explain the dynamism of Western culture and the immense liberation of energies resulting from the confrontation of the religious and the secular, mysticism and philosophy, faith and science, contemplation and action, love and logic, experience and intellectuality. In the True Life (Washington, D.C. and Paterson, N.J. 1943), Sturzo shows how the universal process becomes meaningful when seen in its polarization to divinity. In such a universe the Incarnation takes on its fullest cosmic and historical significance. A new perspective on religious life is opened by showing that it is not outside but well within the cosmic and historical process. The intimate connection between love of God and creative activity is revealed.
Bibliography: Opera omni (Bologna 1954– ). a. r. caponi gri, "Don Luigi Sturzo," Review of Politics 14 (1952) 147–165. n. s. timasheff, The Sociology of Luigi Sturzo (Baltimore 1962).
[r. c. pollock]