The POPE’S LAST CRUSADE — Background and Research–

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On the eve of World War II in the summer of 1938, the Nazis massed forces against Europe. In Rome, Pope Pius XI began a last-minute campaign to awaken world leaders against Hitler, Mussolini and the murderous Nazi campaign against the Jews. But the pope faced dissidents within the Vatican.

When people think of the Vatican during World War II, they think immediately of Pius XII, who was known for his silence during Hitler’s massacre of the Jews. But before him, there was a little-remembered pope, Pope Pius XI, who was loudly outspoken against the Nazis and was determined to call the world’s attention to their atrocities. This book tells that story, along with that of the pope’s partnership with an American Jesuit, which breaks new ground about conspiracies within the Vatican, which continue 75 years later. The Pope’s Last Crusade also plays an important role in today’s news as Pope Benedict continues to indicate his intention to canonize Pope Pius XII.

Piux XI in the Vatican Gardens

Piux XI in the Vatican Gardens

In 1938 Pope Pius XI was as an outspoken critic of Nazism and its rhetoric of ethnic “purity.” To make his voice heard, Pius called upon John LaFarge, a relatively unknown American Jesuit whose writing about racism in America had caught the Pope’s attention. Pius enlisted LaFarge to write a papal encyclical—the Vatican’s strongest decree— publicly condemning Hitler, Mussolini, and the murderous Nazi campaign against the Jews. MORE