Was Christianity, not so long ago? Jan-Werner Müller draws a historical parallel:
There is little evidence ... that the Vatican consistently steered the development of Christian Democracy, or that the ultimate accommodation of Christian Democratic parties to democratic politics was driven by the Vatican’s decisions. These parties developed in ways that were not intended by the Vatican, their leaderships could not be controlled from above, and their programs often veered more to the left than the Church desired, especially under Pius XII.
Christian Democracy, particularly after 1945, was the creation of political entrepreneurs such as Don Sturzo and savvy strategists such as West Germany’s first postwar Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. To the extent that churchmen were directly involved, they were members of the lower clergy or of what in Italy was often called the proletariato di chiesa (“proletariat of the church”) .
The Vatican would eventually endorse democracy unequivocally, but only after decades of Christian Democratic practice and only after renouncing its transparent sympathies for authoritarian Catholic leaders such as António Salazar in Portugal and Francisco Franco in Spain.