Command Post: The Pope’s Last Crusade

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Focus On: WWIIThe Pope’s Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI’s Campaign to Stop HitlerBy: Peter Eisner | March 25, 2013
Tags: WWII

As the Nazis increased their threats against the Jews, the pope realized that today it was the Jews, but then it would be the Catho­lics and finally the world. He could see in the day’s news that the Nazis would stop at nothing less than world domination.

Pius envisioned a gesture that would go beyond daily condem­nations of each atrocity uttered by the Nazis. He sought a verbal offensive with a major statement that would attack the underpin­nings of the Nazi machine. Pius appeared to have found the vehi­cle; he had received a copy of a book, Interracial Justice, written by an American Jesuit named John LaFarge. The book portrayed the lives of American blacks who lived in the poorest strata of society. It said the church had to establish itself as a moral force in combat­ing racism in the United States. The pope did not know LaFarge was in Europe and en route to Rome.
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