The duty to defend the weak (November 1953)

November 1953, the Pignone crisis is at its peak. La Pira seeks supports from the Pope for the jobs of 2000 laid-off workers.

The letter, however, also contains a more structured criticism of a socio-economic system that does not give priority to social justice. Indeed, La Pira interprets the Pignone case as being

the clearest proof of the present-day condition of radical juridical, political and human inferiority in which all Italian workers find themselves. It is a sign of the structural inability of the State to defend the weak. It is a sure sign of how Italian politics will unfold in the coming months and years. The structural incapacity of this State is driving the multitude of workers and their families to the mistake of turning to alternative policies in which they hope to find bread and comprehension.

This situation could have negative repercussions on the Church if it dos not take the side of justice all the more so since …even the painful weapon of excommunication is blunt.

There are no half measures says La Pira:


…you don’t put new wine into old casks. The present-day structures of Italian society are old and unable to contain the vital fermentation of the new generations and new problems – the Gospel rises in the life of peoples. Human dignity? Sanctity of employment and the home? Justice and social brotherhood? What is the sense of all this when overnight, and ad nutum of the proprietor, job, home, dignity and the peace of thousands of families are subject to an authentic cataclysm.

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