February 11, 1929: Pius XI signs Lateran Agreements with Italian leader Benito Mussolini, creating the Vatican state.
May 16, 1929: The pope denounces a Mussolini speech about Christianity and Catholicism as “worse than heretical.”
Mussolini starts tapping Vatican telephones.
July 8, 1933: Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, initials an agreement with Hitler. The pope immediately
suggests withdrawal and issues protests against Nazi actions and doctrines.
1936: LaFarge’s book, Interracial Justice, calling for an end to racism, is published.
March 12, 1938: Hitler annexes Austria, the first step in his demand for Lebensraum.
April 23, 1938: John LaFarge sails from New York for Europe.
May 2, 1938: Hitler arrives in Rome for official visit with Benito Mussolini, his Italian counterpart.
May 4, 1938: The Pope, who had left Rome in protest, condemns the display of the swastika in Rome and calls it a “crooked cross.”
June 25, 1938: Pius instructs LaFarge to write a secret encyclical condemning Nazism and anti-Semitism.
September 5, 1938: Mussolini bars Jews from attending or teaching in Italian schools. The pope declares that “antiSemitism is inadmissible.
Spiritually we are all Semites.”
September 20, 1938: LaFarge returns to Rome with his completed encyclical and gives it to the Jesuit Superior, Wlodimir Ledochowski, who conceals
the document, calling the draft “too strong and provoking.”
October 28, 1938: LaFarge writes to the pope, hoping to make sure Ledochowski delivers the encyclical.
November 9, 1938: Nazi storm troopers rampage against Jews and kill at least 91 people, smash thousands of businesses and synagogues and send
30,000 Jews to concentration camps.
November 25, 1938: The pope suffers two heart attacks but recovers rapidly. Pacelli takes stronger hand in running the
January 21, 1939: After numerous requests, the pope finally receives the draft encyclical from Ledochowski, who recommends it be rewritten.
February 4, 1939: The pope’s close friend, French Cardinal Eugene Tisserrant, meets with the pope and finds him surprisingly well. But two days
later, he is diagnosed with the flu and dies on February 10.
February 10, 1939: Cardinal Pacelli orders the pope’s papers sealed and his planned speech to Italian bishops is destroyed. Mussolini declares:
“At last the obstinate old man is dead.”
March 2, 1939: Cardinal Pacelli becomes the pope, taking the name Pius XII.
March 7, 1939: The new pope meets with the German ambassador to the Vatican, ushering in improvement in relations between the Vatican and
April 10, 1939: The Vatican tells LaFarge the encyclical will not be published and the text must never credited to the dead pope.
May 20, 1963: For the first time, John LaFarge describes his role in the writing of the encyclical. He tells fellow Jesuits he was tricked
by Ledochowski. Six months later, he dies.