Keywords: Catholic-democratic thought, Giuseppe Dossetti, Secularism, Constitutional Patriotism, Leading Italian Scholars
The essay retraces the most salient features of Leopoldo Elia's academic and political commitment so as to highlight his cultural background and in particular the influence of Giuseppe Dossetti's Catholic-democratic thought. The first part of the paper focuses on how, in Elia's idea of political engagement inspired by Christian believes was to be realized in the context of a secular, democratic and pluralist Republic as demonstrated in his early experience in the Federation of Italian Catholic University Students (FUCI). The second part of the paper focuses on the three expressions coined by Elia with which he was able to describe with great efficacy a series of important constitutional and institutional phenomena. These expressions almost assumed an official scientific denomination: "occupation party" ("partito di occupazione"), convention to exclude ("conventio ad excludendum"), "absolute premiership" ("premierato assoluto"). Attention should also be paid to Elia's term "constitutional patriotism" which he used to define the final year of Giuseppe Dossetti's public commitment, a term that we can use today to describe the biographical and moral portrait of Elia himself and his legacy to future generations.