Pope Pius XI
The mountain climbing pope. In the late 1930s, he is alarmed by Hitler’s rise and wants to alert the world to stop him. To
do this, he decides to release a papal encyclical, the highest proclamation a pope can make.
An American Jesuit, he is called upon by Pius XI to draft the papal encyclical denouncing Hitler and anti-Semitism. Pius
selects him because of LaFarge’s writings on racism in America.
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli
The Vatican Secretary of State, saw Communism, not Hitler and Nazism as the world’s greatest danger. He would become pope after Pius XI’s
Superior General Wlodmir Ledochowski
The leader of the Jesuits, who worked to delay delivery of LaFarge’s encyclical to Pope Pius XI.
Ambassador William Phillips
The U.S. ambassador to Italy, who was under direct orders from President Roosevelt to draw Mussolini away from the Axis alliance with Nazi Germany.
Monsignor Joseph Hurley
The highest ranking American at the Vatican, Hurley served as an intermediary for Phillips and the pope.
In 1938, the fuhrer had recently annexed Austria and was preparing to move into Czechoslovakia. Hitler realized that Pius XI’s popularity was an obstacle.
In September 1938, Il Duce barred Jews from public life in Italy. The pope said he was embarrassed to be an Italian.