America Magazine: April Book Club Selection–The Pope’s Last Crusade

The Pope’s Last Crusade

Kevin Spinale
April Catholic Book Club Selection

In the epilogue of his latest book, The Pope’s Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI’s Campaign to Stop Hitler, Peter Eisner offers an interesting insight on the men who held the seat of Peter during the 20th century. Of the seven pontiffs that were elected during that time, six are either beatified or being seriously considered for beatification. The only pope not to have a cause initiated on his behalf is Achille Ratti – Pope Pius XI. This aspect of the papacy in the last century will confound the readers of Eisner’s book. Of all the men that are depicted in Eisner’s account (Eugenio Pacelli, Wlodimir Ledochowski and several others in positions of power within the church), only Pius XI was courageous enough to speak out against the programs of racial discrimination in Germany and Italy. Only Pius XI infuriated Hitler and Mussolini by his public statements against the vicious anti-Semitism of the two Fascist leaders. Only Pius XI concluded that Fascism was a more immediate and malicious threat to Christian Europe than Soviet communism. Lastly, in the final days of his life, Pius XI attempted to fight..(MORE)