Regular price: $31.50
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $31.50
After my husband and I watched the film, "Il papa nella tempesta," I wanted to read about the rise of anticlericalism in Italy and the role the Church played in the war. I couldn't have asked for a better book to answer many of my questions. (And it raised just as many new ones, which is what a good history lesson should do).
(1) "The Pope and the Dictator" introduces the dramatis personae, particularly Achille Ratti, who became Pius XI, and Mussolini, along with many Vaticanos. Kertzer renders a vivid picture of daily life in Italy at the time. This section ends with the signing of the Lateran Accords in 1929: "For Italy's Jews, (this) prompted nervousness and fear. Little more than half a century earlier, the demise of the Papal States had liberated them from the pope's ghettos. Now they were worried what the future might bring."
(2) "Enemies In Common," discusses just that, including the way Church and State regarded Jews, Protestants, Germany, and how each alternately strengthened and threatened the interests of the other.
(3) "Mussolini, Hitler, and the Jews" takes us into the papacy of Eugenio Pacelli, now Pius XII, and the darkest days of the war. (His papacy is still a hotly debated subject, and several works exist which give conflicting views. A rabbi has written a defense, and a British journalist has written an excoriation, just to name two of the books).
In all, Kertzer is quite critical of the Church, and rightly so. But there is enough blame and shame to go around during this monstrous time in European history.
I didn't finish the audio book because the narrator was so awful. I bought the print book, which is nice in that it is illustrated, heavily annotated, and has maps of Rome for those of us who are not intimately acquainted with the city's layout at the time.
Kertzer has a passion for Italy and for research, and his writing is excellent. I'd happily read another of his books.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
David Kertzer reminds the world that organized religion is only human. Religions are subject to the goodness and sins of human nature. Whether one believes in a Supreme Being or not, actions of organized religion are freighted with human error. Kertzer is only one of many who have exposed the perfidy of organized religion. His target, in “The Pope and Mussolini, is the Roman Catholic Church.
Cardinal Ratti becomes Pope Pius XI during the ascension of European Fascism and Nazism in the 1920s and 30s. Ratti is characterized as a pedantic, conservative, and sometimes bellicose Christian believer in, and defender of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Pius XI agrees to support the government of Benito Mussolini in 1929 in return for the creation of an independent Papal State in Rome. Mussolini agrees to pay the church approximately $100 million for formally confiscated church land. Pope Pius XI acquires for himself and future Popes the right of independent rule, religious interpretation, and Christian doctrinal dictatorship. In return Mussolini gains the support of the Roman Catholic Church, the dissolution of Catholic political parties, and a title as II Duce, “The Leader” of Italy. At the stroke of a pen, Mussolini becomes a hero of Italian Catholics (over 90% of the population) and the totalitarian leader of Italy.
Pius XI compromises his morals and paves the way for Pius XII, a closet Christian anti-Semite, who becomes a Hitler’ collaborator by tacitly endorsing the immoral belief of religious purity. Though not widely known at the time, Cardinal Pacelli acted as a “too clever” intermediary between the German and Italian governments to undermine the growing discontent of Pope Pius XI with Germany’s treatment of Christians and Jewish converts to Christianity. Pope Pius XI commissions a new Catholic encyclical to condemn German treatment of Catholic citizens but dies before publication. Pope Pius XII (Cardinal Pacelli) buries the last encyclical of his predecessor in the archives of the Vatican library.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful