|Vatican – Fr Guanella a saint|
(ANS – Rome) – Last Sunday 29 April in St Paul’s Basilica outside the walls of Rome, there was the beatification of Prof. Giuseppe Toniolo (1845-1918), economist and sociologist, activist in Catholic Action, organiser of the Catholic Social Weeks in Italy. A contemporary of Don Bosco, after having come to know him personally he became a Salesian Cooperator.
Don Bosco and Blessed Toniolo met at Pisa in May 1887. The former was already well-known as an educator of the humble and second was becoming known as a teacher and guide for Italian Catholics in the social field.
When they met when Don Bosco playfully asked the Professor to teach him economics, Giuseppe Toniolo insisted that the saint should send his Salesians to Pisa, where he lived and taught. The Salesians were to arrive in Pisa only later, but Prof Toniolo was so impressed by the conversation that he decided to become enrolled as a Salesian Cooperator.
Born at Treviso in 1845, thanks to his natural gifts and his application to his studies of economics and social problems Giuseppe Toniolo had a swift career as a teacher in state institutes and then at 24 he was a university assistant lecturer in Padua; at 34 a Lecturer in Political Economics at the University of Pisa, at 37 the Professor at the same University.
A Catholic through and through it was a great triumph for him to have obtained a Chair in a State University at a time when materialism dominated the universities and politics was often anticlerical.
Giuseppe Toniolo dedicated all his energies to political economy, to sociology and to statistics. Such was his competence in these areas that he was able to challenge successfully the current marxist and positivist teaching.
The social teaching of the Church had an able exponent in Toniolo not only on the academic level but also among the people, as he became the leader and organiser of a magnificent movement spreading Christian thinking and practice among the workers.
In his view the workers needed to be aware that they were not mere instruments to be used as long as they were needed or until they wore out. Also through their work they were fully men, and even more sons of God.
In the current world economic crisis it would seem also very useful to draw on the depth of thought of Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo, Salesian Cooperator.