The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler

Books on Tape. Jun. 2022. 17:33 hrs. ISBN 9780593605776. $95. HIST
If a person becomes the pope in wartime fascist Europe, does that person safeguard the church or protect its flock? In his latest book, Pulitzer Prize–winning Vatican scholar Kertzer (Prisoner of the Vatican) reveals that this was the question facing Pius XII, a man who spent his career inside the insular world of the Vatican administration, having never served in a parish. The new pope’s first act was to destroy all copies of a papal missive written by his predecessor, which indicted Germany and its new racial laws. It was not a promising start for a new pope in a tumultuous time. Pius XII was conciliatory by nature, believing that aligning with those in power was best in order to preserve the church as an institution. He shrank from offending either Hitler or Mussolini and became adept at issuing tepid statements that offended no one. His silence did nothing to help embattled Jews or Catholic priests, many of whom were sent to concentration camps, in the Nazi-conquered territories. Arthur Morey gives a steady professionalism to the narration.
VERDICT A timid religious leader, afraid to wield his moral authority against oppression and destruction, reminds listeners of the dangers of silence. Recommended for those interested in the papacy or World War II in Europe.
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