OVERHANGING the long and heated discussions at the National congress of the Association of Italian Catholic Workers in Red Bologna last weekend was the failure to find a quick and effective answer to the sustained threat of Communism in Italy.
For it is a hard fact that although the Communists in industry may have had some small losses here and there, Christian Democracy, a n d Italy's " A.C.T.U." in particular, have probably had bigger ones.
The congress discussions, which lasted for three days and a night, were principally concerned with how to provide a genuinely Catholic alternative to Communist leadership of the workers.
Despite all that has been done at the political, social, trade union and religious levels the essential strength of Italy's Communists is stubbornly maintained at a point where they continue to be a major threat.
This has had the effect of driving some Christian Democrats more to the Right in the belief that a " tougher " line is necessary. It has also propelled others. who believe in stealing the Communists' thunder, further to the Left, and this has led to an increase in support for the Left Christian Democrats.
Resolutions passed at the weekend congress noted this tendency. The Christian Democrat Party was criticised for being too conservative and for being the friend of the rich.
The Free Trade Unions, particularly those led by Left Christian Democrats, came under fire for inclining too strongly towards imitation of the British Labour Party and our Welfare State.
What is needed. it was urged, is a clear lead to the workers which
is neither " reactionary " nor Socialist.
It is forecast that members of the A.C.I...1. will themselves now go more directly into politics and
will initiate political policies within the Free Trade Unions.
A.C.L.I. has hitherto been nonpolitical. its job being roughly that of A.C.T.U. in Britain, which seeks to help Catholic workers to exert a Christian influence within the trade union movement and to combat anti-Christian influences.
A message was received at the congress from the Holy Father, and Cardinal Lecaro, Archbishop of Bologna, gave the delegates his blessing and a message of encouragement.
It is notable that the electoral defeats which the Communists suffered earlier this year in the Fiat works and some other great factories of the Communist North have not been maintained elsewhere.
This would appear to indicate that there is as yet no widespread and spontaneous rejection of Communism by the mass of Italian workers and that the Communists' defeat is achieved only where a great deal of hard work has been done by the workers themselves, employers, local Christian Democrats, priests and others. D. H.