Books should never be silenced, President Sergio Mattarella said today marking the centenary of the birth of Catholic priest and great educator of the poor Don Lorenzo Milani.
Don Milani turned his school at Barbiana near Florence into an engine of emancipation. “The school at Barbiana lasted all day,” said Mattarella. The President was at the site of the landmark educational establishment in the Mugello area.
“It tried to inculcate the desire to learn, the willingness to work together with others. It tried to instill the habit of observing the world’s things with a critical spirit.
“Without ever shying away from discussion, without pretending to silence anyone, still less a book or its presentation.
“In short, it invited to learn to discern things, to work things out”.
Don’t censor books
The president’s call against censoring books was seen as a reference to a recent ‘deplatforming’ incident involving Minister for Family, Natality and Equal Opportunities, Eugenia Roccella, at the Turin Book Fair.
Family Minister Roccella, a pro-life and anti-abortion campaigner, was shouted down by a group of pro-choice young women. It prevented Roccella from presenting her new book.
Italy currently does not have any banned books. Two were banned during Mussolini’s leadership:
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1928) was banned because of its antimilitarism.
- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1929) was banned for depicting the Italian Army’s defeat at the Battle of Caporetto.