In the Constituent Assembly and in the Government

When he returned to Florence in 1944 after the Liberation, La Pira was one of the best qualified representatives of the Catholic movement in Italy. On 2 June 1946 he was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly.

In the context of the Assembly, La Pira was a member of the first sub-committee, the one which wrote the “Fundamental Principles”. He was among the architects of the dialogue between Catholics (others being Giuseppe Dossetti, Giuseppe Lazzati, Amintore Fanfani and Aldo Moro) and the representatives of other ideological currents, such as the Socialists Lelio Basso and Piero Calamandrei, and the Communist Palmiro Togliatti).
Many of the articles of the Italian Constitution bear his signature: those on the dignity of the person (articles 2 and 3), on the relations between State and Church (article 7), and the one on the basis of which Italy repudiates war (article 11).
In Parliament he and Fanfani, Dossetti and Lazzati constituted the group of so-called “professorini”; intransigent in giving absolute priority to social questions and the struggle against unemployment, they were often at loggerheads with the top brass of the government and the Christian Democrat party.

As Under-Secretary of Labour in the first De Gasperi government , La Pira often found himself in the difficult role of mediator in fierce battles between angry unions, industrialists unwilling to give an inch and finance ministers very reluctant to negotiate.

Following the lessons of the British economists Keynes and Beveridge, as a fundamental objective of political action La Pira specified “full employment”: providing work for all is not a mirage, he maintained, but a possible objective. The political world had to respond, he said, to the waiting of the poor . This is, indeed, the title of a famous article of his, which gave rise to considerable debate.


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