The "explosive" ( The New York Times ) bestseller-now with a new introduction by the author When Hitler's Pope, the shocking story of Pope Pius XII that "redefined the history of the twentieth century" ( The Washington Post ) was originally published, it sparked a firestorm of controversy both inside and outside the Catholic Church. Now, award-winning journalist John Cornwell has revisited this seminal work of history with a new introduction that both answers his critics and reaffirms his overall thesis that Pius XII, now scheduled to be canonized by the Vatican, weakened the Catholic Church with his endorsement of Hitler-and sealed the fate of the Jews in Europe.
Relying on exclusive access to Vatican and Jesuit archives, an award-winning Roman Catholic journalist argues that through a 1933 Concordat with Hitler, Pope Pius XII facilitated the dictator's rise and, ultimately, the Holocaust. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
September 30, 2000
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Hitler's Pope by John Cornwell
During the "Holy Year" of 1950, a year in which many millions of pilgrims descended on Rome to show their allegiance to the papacy, Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, was seventy-four years of age and still vigorous. Six feet tall, stick-thin at 125 pounds, light on his feet, regular in his habits, he had hardly altered physically from the day of his coronation eleven years earlier. It was his extreme pallor that first struck those who met him. "The skin, tightly drawn over the strong features, almost ash-grey, unhealthy, looked like old parchment," wrote one observer, "but at the same time it had a surprisingly transparent effect, as if reflecting from the inside a cold, white flame." The effect he had on otherwise unsentimental men of the world was often stunning. "His presence radiated a benignity, calm and sanctity that I have certainly never before sensed in any human being," wrote James Lees-Milne. "All the while he smiled in the sweetest, kindliest way so that I immediately fell head over heels in love with him. I was so affected I could scarcely speak without tears and was conscious that my legs were trembling."
The Holy Year saw a host of papal initiatives -- canonizations, encyclicals (public letters to the Catholic faithful of the world), even the declaration of an infallible dogma (the Assumption of the Virgin Mary) -- and Pius XII seemed deeply settled in his pontificate, as if he had always been Pope and always would be. For the half-billion Catholic faithful in the world, he embodied the papal ideal: holiness, dedication, divinely ordained supreme authority, and, in certain circumstances, infallibility in his statements about faith and morals. To this day, elderly Italians refer to him as "l'ultimo papa," the last Pope.
A man of monklike inclinations of solitude and prayer, he nevertheless met in audience a prodigious number of politicians, writers, scientists, soldiers, actors, sports personalities, leaders of nations, and royalty. Few failed to be charmed and impressed by him. He had beautiful tapering hands, which he used to great effect in his constant blessings. His eyes were large and dark, almost feverish behind gold-rimmed spectacles. His voice was high-pitched, a trifle querulous, with a tendency to over-meticulous enunciation. When he performed church services, his face was impassive, his gestures and movements controlled and elegant. Toward his visitors he was strikingly affable, putting them at ease, all assentation and eagerness, with not the slightest impression of pomposity or affectation. He had a ready and simple humor and would give a big silent laugh, mouth agape. His teeth, one observer noted, were like "old ivory."
Some spoke of a "feline" sensibility, others of an occasional tendency to "feminine" vanity. Before a camera there was a hint of narcissism. And yet he impressed most who met him with a sense of chaste, youthful innocence, like an eternal seminarian or monastic novice. He was at home with children, and they felt drawn to him. He was never known to gossip or speak ill of others. His eyes froze, harelike, when he felt assailed by overfamiliarity or a coarse phrase. He was alone -- in a quite extraordinary and exalted sense.
How can one capture a sense of that unique solitude, that papal egotistical sublime, in which modern popes have chosen to live and have their being?