The Pope's Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler

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9780062049148: The Pope's Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler

Drawing on untapped resources, exclusive interviews, and new archival research, The Pope’s Last Crusade by Peter Eisner is a thrilling narrative that sheds new light on Pope Pius XI’s valiant effort to condemn Nazism and the policies of the Third Reich—a crusade that might have changed the course of World War II.

A shocking tale of intrigue and suspense, illustrated with sixteen pages of archival photos, The Pope’s Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler illuminates this religious leader’s daring yet little-known campaign, a spiritual and political battle that would be derailed by Pius’s XIs death just a few months later. Peter Eisner reveals how Pius XI intended to unequivocally reject Nazism in one of the most unprecedented and progressive pronouncements ever issued by the Vatican, and how a group of conservative churchmen plotted to prevent it.

For years, only parts of this story have been known. Eisner offers a new interpretation of this historic event and the powerful figures at its center in an essential work that provides thoughtful insight and raises controversial questions impacting our own time.

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From the Back Cover:

A conspiracy within the Vatican—to stop an outspoken Pope

In 1938, Pope Pius XI was the world's most prominent critic of Hitler and his rhetoric of ethnic "purity." To make his voice heard, Pius called upon a relatively unknown American Jesuit whose writing about racism in America had caught the Pope's attention. Pius enlisted John LaFarge to write a papal encyclical—the Vatican's strongest decree—publicly condemning Hitler, Mussolini, and their murderous Nazi campaign against the Jews.

At the same time conservative members of the Vatican's innermost circle were working in secret to suppress the document. Chief among them was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, whose appeasement of the Germans underlay a deep-running web of conspiracy. Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII, was joined by Wlodimir Ledóchowski, leader of the Jesuit order, to keep the finished encyclical from reaching the increasingly ill Pope.

Peter Eisner, award-winning reporter and author of the critically acclaimed The Freedom Line, combines shocking new evidence (released only recently from Vatican archives) and eyewitness testimony to create a compelling journey into the heart of the Vatican and a little-known story of an American's partnership with the head of the Catholic Church. A truly essential work, it brings staggering new light to one of the most critical junctures in modern history.

About the Author:

Peter Eisner has been an editor and reporter at the Washington Post, Newsday, and the Associated Press. His books include the award-winning The Freedom Line and The Italian Letter, which he wrote with Knut Royce. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

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