When people think of the Vatican and World War II, they think immediately of Pius XII, the controversial pontiff between 1939 and 1958. But before him, there was a little-remembered pope, Pope Pius XI, who was loudly outspoken against the Nazis and was determined to call the world’s attention to their atrocities. “The Pope’s Last Crusade” tells that story, along with that of the pope’s partnership with an American Jesuit, which breaks new ground about war-time conspiracies within the Vatican.
I’ll confess: Pope Pius XI was no more than a name of a 20th century pope memorized at some point for someone testing me no doubt. I am grateful to the post by Peter Eisner, the author of The Pope’s Last Crusade. On Huffington Post’s Religion Blog, Eisner’s post is enough of an introduction to make me want to find out more about the Pius XI and what he said.
As Pope Francis I opens eyes and excites the world with hope, and even though it is now more than 70 years since Pope Pius XI, this short post makes me understand anew that whether we like it or not the Pope (the Bishop of Rome) has an influence—for better or worse—on world affairs. Likewise, the Pope can only exercise his ministry with the support of those around him.