chapter  13
18 Pages

Radical Catholicism and Fascism in Croatia, 1918–1945 Mark Biondich

Since it was first coined in 1924, the term ‘clerico-fascist’ has gained wide currency in political and scholarly discourse in reference to Catholic support for fascism.2 The term has eluded an exact definition, is often employed with considerable imprecision and, much like fascism, remains open to critical interpretation. Is ‘clerical fascism’ (or ‘clerico-fascism’) a subspecies of clericalism, or was it a peculiar form of fascism, which encompassed a number of dissimilar movements across interwar Europe? Indeed, at what point – if at all – did interwar clericalism become fascist and cease being essentially a conservative political ideology? How are we to distinguish between clericalist movements that developed fascist tendencies and evolved into ‘clerico-fascist’ movements, and genuine fascist movements that simply attracted Catholic support and were thus labelled by association ‘clerico-fascist’? Was there even a meaningful difference? In East Central Europe, Slovakia, Romania and Croatia are commonly cited as typical examples of the ‘clerico-fascist’ phenomenon. In the Croatian case, there appears to be broad consensus that the Usta[scaron] a movement was a representative exemplar of ‘clerico-fascism’.3