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The Pope's Last Crusade

How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler

The Pope's Last Crusade
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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.

HarperCollins; March 2013
352 pages; ISBN 9780062049162
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