Author(s): David I. Kertzer
This is the compelling story of Pope Pius XI's secret relations with Benito Mussolini. A ground-breaking work, based on seven years of research in the Vatican and Fascist archives by US National Book Award-finalist David Kertzer, it will forever change our understanding of the Vatican's role in the rise of Fascism in Europe. Both Pope Pius XI and Mussolini came to power in Rome in 1922. One was scholarly and devout, the other a violent bully. Yet they also had traits in common. Both had explosive tempers. Both bristled at the charge of being the patsy of the other. Both demanded unquestioned obedience from their subordinates, whose knees literally quaked in fear of provoking their wrath. Both came to be disillusioned by the other, yet dreaded what would happen if their alliance were to end. The book unravels for the first time the key role played between pope and dictator by the shadowy Jesuit go-between, dubbed Mussolini's Rasputin. It also reveals the details of the secret agreement worked out by Mussolini with the pope's personal envoy, offering Vatican support for Italy's notorious, anti-Semitic 'racial laws'.
And dramatic new light is shed on the controversial figure of Eugenio Pacelli, who (as Pope Pius XII) would later come to be idolized by some and reviled by others for his silence during the Holocaust. In his role as Vatican Secretary of State, Pacelli had to struggle to keep the pope's explosive temper from leading to a break with both Mussolini and Nazi Germany, as the Italian dictator increasingly embraced the German Fuehrer, whom Pius detested. With the recent opening of the Vatican archives covering Pius XI's papacy, the full story of the two men's relationship can now be told for the first time. It is an account that destroys the widely accepted myth of a heroic Church doing battle with the Fascist regime. On the contrary, as David Kertzer shows, Mussolini would not have been able to impose his dictatorship on Italy without the pope's support. In exchange, the pope expected Mussolini to use his repressive reach to enforce Catholic morality - and return the Church to a position of power in Italy.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, 2015
Winner of Pulitzer Prize for Biography 2015.
David Kertzer is Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science at Brown University, where he is also professor of anthropology and Italian studies. His Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara was a finalist for the National Book Award in the U.S. in 1997, and he has twice received the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best work on Italian history. His 2001 book, The Popes Against the Jews, a look at the Vatican's role in the rise of modern anti-Semitism, has been published in several languages. He is co-founder former co-editor of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. In 2005 Kertzer was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2006 to 2011 he was the Provost of Brown University.
PART ONE: THE POPE AND THE DICTATOR ; PART TWO: ENEMIES IN COMMON ; PART THREE: MUSSOLINI, HITLER, AND THE JEWS