Pamela's Reviews > The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe

The Pope and Mussolini by David I. Kertzer
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bookshelves: history, pulitzer-non-fiction

A very detailed review of how Achille Ratti, Pope Pius XI, came to aid and abet Benito Mussolini in gaining control over the Italian State in the early twenties. They both came to power in the same year, 1922 - the one of a temporal realm, the other of a spiritual one and found a use to which they could put one another. The Pope used Mussolini to reach an agreement on the permanent return of, at least, the Papal States as an independent state and, in return, agreed to back Mussolini's Fascist dictatorship. Mussolini, on the other hand, recognized the importance of having the Pope's co-operation and agreed to support a Catholic state in Italy under the banner of Fascism with many benefits for the religion.

With the Lateran Accords, Mussolini was assured a stable Italy supported by the Church and the Church, in turn, saw an end to anticlericalism and the brutalizing of its priests by the Fascists. All of this worked out well for both sides until Mussolini became more and more closely aligned with Hitler and National Socialism and started leading the country on a path to war. When he instituted the anti-Jewish laws at the behest of the Nazis, the Pope began to break with the Fascist leader. He was subsequently hailed as a great spiritual leader for his stand but it should be noted (and the author does) that his objection was not against the laws as a whole but only as they applied to Jews who had converted to Catholicism and been baptized. This Pope does indeed seem to have been distressed by all of the events he found himself involved in and sincerely seems to have tried to do what he thought best for the Church. It is hard to look back from an era of such changed views and make judgments. Still, an old adage kept going through my mind as I read, "If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."
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Reading Progress

September 6, 2017 –
8.0% (Kindle Edition)
September 12, 2017 –
12.0% (Kindle Edition)
September 13, 2017 –
18.0% (Kindle Edition)
September 17, 2017 –
24.0% (Kindle Edition)
September 20, 2017 –
32.0% (Kindle Edition)
September 25, 2017 –
39.0% (Kindle Edition)
September 30, 2017 –
53.0% (Kindle Edition)
October 1, 2017 – Started Reading
October 1, 2017 – Shelved
October 1, 2017 – Shelved as: history
October 1, 2017 – Shelved as: pulitzer-non-fiction
October 1, 2017 – Finished Reading

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