Pope XI

Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti was born in Desio on 31st May, 1857. He went to the seminary at Milan and later obtained a doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University.

Ratto worked as a parish priest until moving to the Ambrosian Library in Milan. In 1912 Pope Pius X appointed him assistant librarian at the Vatican. Later he became head of the Vatican Library.

In 1918 Pope Benedict XV sent Ratti to Poland and after the First World War witnessed the invasion by the Red Army. In 1921 he was appointed as Cardinal Archbishop of Milan. The following year he became Pope Pius XI.

Pius XI published thirty encyclicals covering subjects such as education, marriage and social problems. In 1929 he signed the Lateran Treaty with Benito Mussolini which brought into existence the Vatican state.

Pius XI condemned the Nuremberg Laws in July, 1938, and was preparing an encyclical against anti-Semitism, when he died on 10th February, 1939. His successor, Pius XII, decided not to speak out against the atrocities being carried out in Nazi Germany.

I had a long conversation with him. He is a remarkable man - far superior to his predecessor. He is full of experience of Europe & knows England well - which is rather a rare advantage at the Vatican & should prove very useful in the near future. He reads English continually & familiarly and French & German as a matter of course. His questions to me were very central & to the point & he took a lively interest in the effects of the war on our society and government. I could only give him very gloomy replies, for indeed I see no hope of recovery.

There is something like a very definite pact - understood rather than expressed - between the Vatican now & the Italian government. The first great religious procession since 1870, through the streets of Rome took place while I was there: it was the carrying of the body of St Philip Neri through the streets on the third centenary of his canonization and hundreds of thousands turned out in honour of it: a most extraordinary sight! The French Embassy had a specially decorated balcony on the Palazzo Farnese - which is typical of this moment of transition in which we live - as was also the fact that they were all present in a special Tribuna at the High Mass at St Peter's.

Pope XI Wiki, Biography, Net Worth, Age, Family, Facts and More

You will find all the basic Information about Pope XI. Scroll down to get the complete details. We walk you through all about Pope. Checkout Pope Wiki Age, Biography, Career, Height, Weight, Family. Get updated with us about your Favorite Celebs.We update our data from time to time.


Head of the Catholic Church from 1922 until his death in 1939 who fostered and concluded a record number of concordats during his reign. Pope Pius XI is a well known Religious Leader. Pope was born on May 31, 1857 in Austria..Pope is one of the famous and trending celeb who is popular for being a Religious Leader. As of 2018 Pope XI is years old. Pope XI is a member of famous Religious Leader list.

Wikifamouspeople has ranked Pope XI as of the popular celebs list. Pope XI is also listed along with people born on May 31, 1857. One of the precious celeb listed in Religious Leader list.

Nothing much is known about Pope Education Background & Childhood. We will update you soon.

Name Pope XI
Age (as of 2018)
Profession Religious Leader
Birth Date May 31, 1857
Birth Place Austria
Nationality Austria

Pope XI Net Worth

Pope primary income source is Religious Leader. Currently We don’t have enough information about his family, relationships,childhood etc. We will update soon.

Estimated Net Worth in 2019: $100K-$1M (Approx.)

Pope Age, Height & Weight

Pope body measurements, Height and Weight are not Known yet but we will update soon.

Family & Relations

Not Much is known about Pope family and Relationships. All information about his private life is concealed. We will update you soon.


  • Pope XI age is . as of 2018
  • Pope birthday is on May 31, 1857.
  • Zodiac sign: Gemini.

-------- Thank you --------

Influencer Opportunity

If you are a Model, Tiktoker, Instagram Influencer, Fashion Blogger, or any other Social Media Influencer, who is looking to get Amazing Collaborations. Then you can join our Facebook Group named "Influencers Meet Brands". It is a Platform where Influencers can meet up, Collaborate, Get Collaboration opportunities from Brands, and discuss common interests.

We connect brands with social media talent to create quality sponsored content

Pope Benedict XI

Pope Benedict XI was an Italian man who reigned as pope from 1303 to 1305. His papacy began less than two weeks after the death of Pope Boniface VIII. This article looks at his time with the Order of Preachers and his time as pope.

Early Life

Born in 1240, Pope Benedict XI was the son of a man named Boccasini and received the name Nicola upon his birth. He lived with his parents and younger sister in S. Bartolommeo. His mother, Bernarda, worked as a laundress and inherited a large sum of money from a friar. The monk’s will promised Nicola even more if he became a monk. He would use some of that money to study under his uncle and after he joined the Order of Preachers.

Later Roles

Nicola later studied in Venice and other parts of Italy before and after becoming a monk. Named the Provincial Prior of Lombardy in 1286, he was responsible for overseeing several convents and making sure they followed the rules and standards of the Church. He became the Master of the Order of Preachers in 1296 and issued a decree that officially stated Boniface VIII was the pope. This decree also prohibited others from claiming other men were the pope. Nicola also served as a Cardinal Priest.

Papal Election

The papal election of 1303 lasted for just one day. Those who voted in the election overwhelmingly voted for Nicola because they believed that he would not fight King Philip IV. The first action he took as pope was to welcome the King back to the Church and end the excommunication done by the last pope.


As pope, Benedict XI helped King Philip reach a compromise with King Edward I of England. He was pope for only 259 days when he died unexpectedly while in Umbria. Some claimed that a man named Nogaret poisoned the pope. No evidence from the time or later proves this theory. Clement V was elected the next pope and chose to spend his papacy outside of Rome.

Quick Facts About Pope Benedict XI

*He was born in 1240 in the town of Treviso, Italy.
*His parents gave him the name Nicola. His full name was Nicola Boccasini.
*The pope died on July 7, 1304.
*He likely died of natural causes, though the Church does not list a specific cause of death. Some rumors claim he was poisoned.
*His papacy began on October 22, 1303.
*The papacy of Benedict XI ended when he died in 1303.
*Clement V succeeded him as pope but did not take the position until June of the following year.

Interesting Facts About Pope Benedict XI

*Some of the documents that the pope left behind when he died shared his thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew and some of the Psalms.
*Pope Benedict XI is sometimes called Pope Benedict XII because Pope Benedict X is no longer an official pope. The Church recognizes him as an antipope.
*He was one of the only popes in history to serve as a Dominican friar/monk before becoming the pope. The money his mother received helped him afford the studying needed to become a monk at the time.
*Pope Benedict XI is also one of the only popes unanimously elected in history. Not one member of the election voted against him or for another man.
*A common story told about Pope Benedict XI states that he stopped a mass held around Easter in 1304 to hear a confession from a pilgrim visiting the church. Historians believe that the story was simply a legend and not based in reality.

On This Date in History, Pope Pius XI Explained Catholic Teaching on Contraception

The final day of the calendar year has come, December 31. This day in history marks a special 84th anniversary. On this date in 1930, Pope Pius XI promulgated a wonderful papal encyclical titled Casti Connubii (of Chaste Marriage). Among other things, this work lays out brilliantly Catholic teaching on contraception.

The historical significance of this encyclical must be recalled as well. Earlier that year on August 15, 1930, the Anglicans’ Lambeth Conference made a historic decision. They concocted a doctrine that members of their congregation could use contraception.

In so doing, they became the first Christian congregation to break from historic Christianity in condemnation of birth control use. Not even the Protestant Reformers balked at the teaching.

Seeing a Christian denomination toss aside 1900 years of Tradition, Pope Pius XI wrote Casti Connubii in response. Although he never names the Anglicans, it is pretty obvious he has them in mind. Just look to paragraph 56 for the allusion.

In this document he spells out the Church’s beliefs about Holy Matrimony. For my purposes today, I want to highlight paragraphs 53-59. In this section, Pope Pius XI addresses the purposes of sex, as well as the Catholic teaching on contraception.

I will now go through each of these paragraphs of the landmark encyclical. I will add my commentary as we go along.


54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

The Catholic Church upholds what Natural Law already tells us. That is, “the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children.” Therefore, any act that “deliberately frustrate[s]” this end of sex is “shameful and intrinsically vicious.”

By definition, contraception intends to frustrate the conjugal act from its fruitful end. Therefore, using birth control is gravely immoral.

55. Most notably in this paragraph, Pope Pius XI quotes Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented” (De coniug. adult., lib. II, n. 12, Gen, XXXVIII, 8-10). This is a portion of the Doctor of Grace’s commentary on Genesis 38:8-10. In that Bible passage, God kills Onan immediately for committing a contraceptive act.

56. “Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

Did you catch the reference to the Anglicans?

Also here, the Pope reiterates that contraceptive sex is an offense against nature and a grave sin against God.

57. In this paragraph, the Vicar of Christ warns priests that they must not give council permitting contraception use. After all, he reminds them, they too will stand before God is judgment.

How sad to hear that some Catholic priests continue to advise couples that contraception use can be tolerated. This defies the historical Catholic teaching on contraception. What scandal that creates.


58. For this paragraph, the Holy Father commends mothers for risking their lives to bear their child in difficult pregnancies. He acknowledges mothers can feel their lives are threatened in pregnancy. By trusting in the Lord in these difficult circumstances, the Pope says, each mother will be rewarded.

59. Holy Church knows well that not infrequently one of the parties is sinned against rather than sinning, when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly allows the perversion of the right order. In such a case, there is no sin, provided that, mindful of the law of charity, he or she does not neglect to seek to dissuade and to deter the partner from sin. Nor are those considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. For in matrimony as well as in the use of the matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.

I realize the final paragraph I decided to highlight is dense. Let us break it down.

In the first three sentences, Pope Pius XI says it is not uncommon for one spouse to sin against another in the conjugal act. He says this is done when one insists on engaging in the conjugal act “although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth.”

So long as the reluctant spouse tried to dissuade the other from such acts, he or she is not guilty of sin by engaging in contraceptive sex against their will.

The reason for this, the Pope explains, is that the conjugal act has secondary purposes beyond the primary purpose of procreation. He lists them as “mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence.”

Taking the second one first, this is plain to see. One of the purposes of sex is to enhance the intimacy of the married couple partaking in it. They are engaging in an act, which by its very nature, is exclusive. Again, this is a secondary purpose to the conjugal act.

The first and the third seem to me to go together. What does Pope Pius XI mean by “the quieting of concupiscence?” He means a spouse can (and must) assist the other spouse is quieting his or her passions.

We being carnal beings have fleshly desires. We naturally desire sexually our spouses. Each married person owes help to the other in this area. This is Church teaching.

I hope this introduction to Casti Connubii sheds some light for you on the topic of birth control. I realize this encyclical is not the end all, be all in Catholic teaching on contraception.

However, I hope you will see it does point to it being the historical teaching of the Church that the primary purpose of sex is procreation. Nothing else is elevated to that primary slot. After that, secondary purposes, such as “the cultivating of mutual love” can be found.

I hope this gives couples pause about their intentions in their actions. To be married in the Church requires an openness to life.

Natural law does not permit a couple to reinvent sex for their liking. The procreative power must be respected.

I hope this gets a discussion going here. I have to imagine it will.
Please, tell me, where does Pope Pius XI’s encyclical fit into your understanding of Catholic teaching on contraception?
Please sound off below!

Get Your FREE eBook!

Sign up here to receive ProLife365 blog posts straight to your inbox and receive your FREE copy of the eBook, Cold Showers: How Catholic Men Can Pummel Porn Addiction with Mortification!

Benedetto was born the son of minor nobility. His father was Livio Odescalchi, his mother was Paola Castelli Giovanelli and he had six siblings. Despite being from nobility, the Odescalchi clan wanted to get into business. in 1619, one of his brothers established a bank with the help of three Genoan uncles and the venture managed to become a successful money-lender. Once he’d finished studying his language, the teenaged Benedetto relocated to Genoa to apprentice under the family banking business.

When Livio died in 1626, Benedetto took to learning the humanities from the local Jesuit college, then moved to Genoa. At some point between 1632 and 1636, he decided to relocate to Rome, then again to Naples, so that he could focus on learning civil law. This mission earned him several civil titles, including the role of Macerata’s governor.

March 6th, 1645 would see Pope Innocent X appoint Odscalchi to Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Cosma e Damiano, following by serving as legate to Ferrara. It was during his tenure as legate that he did his best to aid its famine-stricken people, with a papal introduction describing Benedetto as “father of the poor.” Five years later, Odescalchi would become Novara’s bishop, where he used all of his funds to aid the sick and poor. He even resigned from his bishopric, with permission, to consult with various congregations.

Blessed Innocent XI

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Blessed Innocent XI, original name Benedetto Odescalchi, (born May 19, 1611, Como, Duchy of Milan—died Aug. 12, 1689, Rome beatified Oct. 7, 1956), feast day August 13), pope from 1676 to 1689.

Odescalchi studied law at the University of Naples and entered the Curia under Pope Urban VIII. Pope Innocent X made him cardinal (1645), emissary to Ferrara, Italy, and bishop of Novara, Italy (1650).

He was elected pope on Sept. 21, 1676, against the opposition of King Louis XIV of France, who proved to be an enemy of ecclesiastical privileges during Innocent’s pontificate. He inherited an insolvent papal treasury but averted bankruptcy through wise taxation, rigid economizing, and financial support from Catholic powers. Innocent aided the war against the Turks by subsidizing King John III of Poland and the Holy Roman emperor Leopold I in a campaign that led to the relief of Vienna (1683) from the Turkish siege.

Innocent quarrelled with Louis when two French bishops resisted the edict of 1673 that extended the king’s right to administer vacant sees. Louis then convoked a French synod, which issued the famous Gallican Articles, four statements in support of Gallicanism, a French ecclesiastical doctrine that advocated restriction of papal power. In response, Innocent refused to confirm the promotion of clergymen involved in the synod, and the deadlock worsened.

Realizing that Protestantism had to be tolerated to maintain peace and manifesting some Jansenist sentiments of his own, Innocent opposed Louis’s persecution of the Huguenots. In May 1685 he furthered the threat of a break between France and the Holy See by acting against the French embassy in Rome for extending political asylum in such an abusive way that the neighbourhood adjacent to the embassy became a haven for criminals. The situation deteriorated further when Innocent opposed Louis’s candidate for the archbishopric of Cologne (1688).

In doctrinal matters, Innocent sympathized somewhat with the Jansenists, followers of a nonorthodox ecclesiastical movement created by Bishop Cornelius Jansen of Ypres, which opposed Louis’s religious policies. Although a friend of Miguel de Molinos, the Spanish mystic and proponent of the doctrine of Christian perfection known as Quietism, Innocent allowed Molinos to be arrested by the papal police and tried for personal immorality and heresy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Innocent condemned his propositions in 1687.

Innocent is considered the outstanding pope of the 17th century, largely because of his high moral character. In a time of frequent papal corruption he was free from nepotism and his integrity was unquestioned.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe – review

I n 1938, Pope Pius XI addressed a group of visitors to the Vatican. There were some people, he said, who argued that the state should be all-powerful – "totalitarian". Such an idea, he went on, was absurd, not because individual liberty was too precious to be surrendered, but because "if there is a totalitarian regime – in fact and by right – it is the regime of the church, because man belongs totally to the church".

As David Kertzer demonstrates repeatedly in this nuanced book, to be critical of fascism in Italy in the 30s was not necessarily to be liberal or a lover of democracy. And to be antisemitic was not to be unchristian. The Pope told Mussolini that the church had long seen the need to "rein in the children of Israel" and to take "protective measures against their evil-doing". The Vatican and the fascist regime had many differences, but this they had in common.

Kertzer announces that the Catholic church is generally portrayed as the courageous opponent of fascism, but this is an exaggeration. There is a counter-tradition, John Cornwell's fine book, Hitler's Pope, on Pius XII (who succeeded Pius XI in 1939) exposed the Vatican's culpable passivity in the face of the wartime persecution of Italian Jews. But Kertzer describes something more fundamental than a church leader's strategic decision to protect his own flock rather than to speak up in defence of others. His argument, presented not as polemic but as gripping storytelling, is that much of fascist ideology was inspired by Catholic tradition – the authoritarianism, the intolerance of opposition and the profound suspicion of the Jews.

Pius XI – formerly Achille Ratti, librarian, mountain-climber and admirer of Mark Twain – was elected Pope in February 1922, eight months before Mussolini bullied his way to the Italian premiership. For 17 years the two men held sway over their separate spheres in Rome. In all that time they met only once, but they communicated ceaselessly by means of ambassadors and nuncios, through the press (each had his tame organ) and via less publicly accountable go-betweens. From the copious records of their exchanges Kertzer has uncovered a fascinating tale of two irascible – and often irrational – potentates, and gives us an account of some murky intellectual finagling, and an often startling investigation of the exercise of power.

The accession of Mussolini, known in his youth as mangiaprete – priest-eater – didn't bode well for the papacy. The fascist squads had been beating up clerics and terrorising Catholic youth clubs. But Mussolini saw that he could use the church to legitimise his power, so he set about wooing the clergy. He had his wife and children baptised. He gave money for the restoration of churches. After two generations of secularism, there were once again to be crucifixes in Italy's courts and classrooms. Warily, slowly, the Pope became persuaded that with Mussolini's help Italy might become, once more, a "confessional state".

Only gradually did it become clear how much the church might lose in the process. Pius fretted over inadequately dressed women – backless ballgowns and the skimpy outfits of female gymnasts were particularly worrisome. Mussolini played along, solemnly declaring that, in future, girls' gym lessons would be designed only to make them fit mothers of fascist sons. He was accommodating in aiding the Pope's war on heresy – banning Protestant books and journals on demand. But Mussolini was creating a heresy of his own. Schoolchildren were required to pray to him: "I humbly offer my life to you, o Duce." In January 1938, he summoned more than 2,000 priests, including 60 bishops, to participate in a celebration of his agricultural policy. Neither the Pope nor his secretary of state were happy, but they feared offending the dictator. And so the priests marched in procession through Rome. They laid wreaths, not at a Christian shrine, but on a monument to fascist heroes. They saluted Mussolini as he stood on his balcony and attended a ceremony where they were required to cheer his entrance, to pray for blessings upon him and roar out "O Duce! Duce! Duce!" That the fascists (beginning with their precursor, Gabriele d'Annunzio) had appropriated ecclesiastical rituals and liturgies could perhaps be taken as a compliment to the church, but to recruit its priests for the worship of a secular ruler was to humiliate God's vicar on earth. Mussolini was cock-a-hoop. It was easy to manipulate the church, he told his new allies in Nazi Germany. With a few tax concessions, and free railway tickets for the clergy, he boasted, he had got the Vatican so snugly in his pocket it had even declared his genocidal invasion of Abyssinia "a holy war".

When it comes to the "Jewish question", Kertzer demonstrates that the Pope's failure to protest effectively against the fascist racial laws arose not simply from weakness, but because antisemitism pervaded his church. Mussolini scored a painful hit when he assured Pius that he would do nothing to Italy's Jews that had not already been done under papal rule. Roberto Farinacci, most brutal of the fascist leaders, came close to the truth when he announced: "It is impossible for the Catholic fascist to renounce that antisemitic conscience which the church had formed through the millennia." And Catholic antisemitism was thriving. Among Pius's most valued advisers were several who – as Kertzer amply demonstrates – saw themselves as battling against a diabolical alliance of communists, Protestants, freemasons and Jews.

Avoiding overt partisanship, Kertzer coolly lays out the evidence he describes his large and various cast of characters, and follows their machinations. We meet the genial Cardinal Gasparri who, narrowly missing the papacy himself, became Pius's secretary of state, handling the negotiations that led in 1929 to the Lateran Accords between the Vatican and the regime. Gasparri, a peasant's son who had risen far, considered Mussolini absurdly ignorant and uncouth Mussolini thought him "very shrewd". We meet the Jesuit father, Tacchi Venturi, Pius's unofficial emissary, a firm believer in conspiracy theories, who claimed to have been nearly killed by an antifascist hitman (the story doesn't stand up). We meet Monsignor Caccia, Pius's master of ceremonies, who was known to the police and to Mussolini's spies for luring boys to his rooms in the Vatican for sex, rewarding them with contraband cigarettes. And we meet the motley crew familiar from histories of fascism: the doltish Starace, Mussolini's "bulldog" Ciano, plump and boyish and, in the opinion of the American ambassador, devoid of "standards morally or politically" and Clara Petacci, the girl with whom Mussolini spent hours of every day on the beach. Some of this is familiar territory, but what is new, and riveting, is how fascists and churchmen alike were forced into intellectual contortions as they struggled to justify the new laws. "Racism" was good. "Exaggerated racism" was bad. "Antisemitism" was good, as long as it was Italian. "German antisemitism" was another thing entirely.

Eventually Pius XI drew back from this casuistry. Kertzer describes the old pope on his deathbed, praying for just a few more days so that he could deliver a speech with the message that "all the nations, all the races" (Jews included) could be united by faith. He dies. Cardinal Pacelli – suave, emollient and devious, where Pius XI was a table-thumper who had no qualms about blurting out uncomfortable truths – clears his desk, suppresses his notes and persuades the Vatican's printer, who has the speech's text ready for distribution, to destroy it so that "not a comma" remains. Eighteen days later Pacelli becomes Pope Pius XII. It is a striking ending for a book whose narrative strength is as impressive as its moral subtlety.

Lucy Hughes-Hallett's The Pike: Gabriele d'Annunzio has won the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, the Costa biography award and the Duff Cooper prize.

Peter Eisner: Pope Pius XI's Last Crusade

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.

Pope Pius XI had left the Vatican in late April 1938, earlier than usual for his summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo. He intended it to be an obvious snub directed at Adolf Hitler who was meeting the first week in May with Italian leader Benito Mussolini.

The pope rejected being present while the "crooked cross of neo-paganism" flew over Rome. Hitler's anti-Semitic campaign had become the pope's great preoccupation.

Many scholars think that Pius XI's crusade against Hitler, which took place in the last months of his life, could have changed course of events, possibly even the severity of later atrocities against the Jews.

As the Nazis increased their threats in their march toward war, the pope realized that it might at that moment be the Jews, but then it would be the Catholics and finally the world. He could see that the Nazis would stop at nothing less than world domination.

Pius had few allies at the Vatican, where many even believed that Communism was a greater danger than Fascism. Therefore, many prelates thought, the enemy of their Communist enemy must be their friend.

But Pius saw Hitler as an insane presence in the world and had been searching for a means of applying pressure and rallying international leaders against Nazism. It would not be easy. He was 82 years old and increasingly ill. At the same time, powerful cardinals and bishops around him feared the pope's activism against Hitler. In particular, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, counseled caution in challenging Hitler and Mussolini. Pacelli eventually would eventually succeed Pius XI.

The pope, undeterred, reached out for help beyond the walls of the Vatican, seeking out an American Jesuit journalist, John LaFarge, who had just come to Italy. LaFarge had just written a book, "Interracial Justice," which portrayed the lives of American blacks who lived in the poorest strata of society. While LaFarge defended African Americans against the myth of racial superiority, the concept applies, he wrote, "to all races and conditions of men . all tribes and races, Jew and Gentile alike. " (Twenty-five years later, in 1963, LaFarge stood with his friend Martin Luther King at the March on Washington.)

The pope summoned LaFarge to Castel Gandolfo on June 25, 1938. The American priest was shocked that the pope even knew his name. Pius told LaFarge he was to write an encyclical that would use the same reasoning he employed when discussing racism in the United States. It was to be the strongest statement ever made by the Vatican, in defense of the Jews and rejecting the Nazi doctrine of anti-Semitism.

Sworn to silence, LaFarge took up the papal assignment clandestinely in Paris. The pope's directive, however, had thrown LaFarge into the hazy realm of Vatican politics. The leader of the Jesuit order worldwide, Wlodimir Ledochowski, promised the pope and LaFarge that he would facilitate production of the encyclical. Privately, Ledochowski, an anti-Semite, conspired to block LaFarge at every turn.

In late September 1938, after about three months of work, LaFarge traveled to Rome with his papal mission complete. His superior, Ledochowski, welcomed him and promised to deliver the encyclical right away to the pope. He dismissed LaFarge and directed him to return home to the United States. Ledochowski did take care of the speech -- by burying it for months in Vatican bureaucracy.

The pontiff, unaware of these machinations, was stepping up his criticism of the Hitler, and Mussolini. He criticized Mussolini's imitation of systematic attacks on Jews in Germany and Austria. As in Germany, Jews in Italy were banned from attending school, from holding public positions or serving as doctors, lawyers and in other professional functions. Pius XI condemned these actions.

"Spiritually," the pope said, "we are all Semites."

In the fall of 1938, LaFarge realized finally that the pope still had not received the encyclical. He wrote a letter directly to the pope, implying that Ledochowski had the document in hand for months already. Pius XI demanded delivery, but did not receive it until Jan. 21, 1939 with a note from Ledochowski, who warned that the language of the document appeared to be excessive. He advised caution.

The pope, finally with LaFarge's text, planned immediately to issue the encyclical after a meeting with bishops on Feb. 11, in which he would condemn fascism. He worked on that speech on his own, jotting down ideas, rewriting and editing it by hand. Rumors, meanwhile, had reached Mussolini that the pope might be planning to excommunicate him or even Hitler, also a Catholic, a blow that could actually damage their popular power base.

Pius XI died on Feb. 10, 1939, a day before his planned speech. Vatican doctors said he had suffered complications of a heart attack, and despite administering stimulants, they had been unable to revive him.

Bishops in some quarters grumbled about the circumstances of his death and questioned the kind of stimulants he had been given in an attempt to revive him. Cardinal Eugene Tisserant of France, the pope's best friend and a former French intelligence officer, wrote in his diary that the pope had been murdered.

Pacelli, the secretary of state, became Pius XII, and the Vatican immediately toned down its vocal protests against Hitler and Mussolini. One historian, Conor Cruise O'Brien, the noted Irish writer and politician, in 1989 said that those months in 1938 were crucial as Hitler measured how the world would react to his campaign against the Jews.

"Had Pius XI been able to deliver the encyclical he planned, the green light would have changed to red. The Catholic Church in Germany would have been obliged to speak out against the persecution of the Jews. Many Protestants, inside and outside Germany, would have likely to follow its example."

How effective Pius XI's efforts might have been can never be known. It was only clear that he took a stance in favor of absolute morality and defended to his last breath his principles of decency and humanity, nothing more, nothing less.

Pope XI - History

One of the religious debates in 18th century Catholicism focused on the issue of "Chinese rites." The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was successful in penetrating China and serving at the Imperial court. They impressed the Chinese with their knowledge of astronomy and mechanics, and in fact ran the Imperial Observatory. Other Jesuits functioned as court painters. The Jesuits in turn were impressed by the Chinese Confucian elite, and adapted to that lifestyle.

The primary goal of the Jesuits was to spread Catholicism, but here they had a problem. The Chinese elite were attached to Confucianism which provided the framework of both state and home life. Part of Confucian practice involved veneration of the ancestors. The Jesuits tried to argue, in Rome, that these "Chinese Rites" were social, not religious, ceremonies, and that converts should be allowed to continue to participate. [The debate was not, as is sometimes thought, about whether the liturgy could be in Chinese rather than Latin]. This claim by the Jesuits may have been disingenuous. Although in later European commentary on China it has continued to be claimed that Confucianism is a "philosophy" and not a "religion" - because it does not conform to the model of western religions, the pope was probably correct in his assessment that the Confucian rituals were indeed in conflict with Christian teaching. As a result, he gave up a very good opportunity to convert a significant part of the Chinese elite to Catholicism.

The Kangxi emperor, one of China's greatest, was at first friendly to the Jesuit Missionaries working in China. By the end of the seventeenth century they had made many converts.

From Decree of K'ang­hsi (1692)

The Europeans are very quiet they do not excite any disturbances in the provinces, they do no harm to anyone, they commit no crimes, and their doctrine has nothing in common with that of the false sects in the empire, nor has it any tendency to excite sedition . . . We decide therefore that all temples dedicated to the Lord of heaven, in whatever place they may be found, ought to be preserved, and that it may be permitted to all who wish to worship this God to enter these temples, offer him incense, and perform the ceremonies practised according to ancient custom by the Christians. Therefore let no one henceforth offer them any opposition.

From S. Neill, A History of Christian Missions (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books ]964), pp. 189­l90.

From Decree of Pope Clement XI (1715)

The Jesuits claim Chinese terms could be used to designate the Christian God and that the Confucian ceremonies were merely civil rites that Christians could attend and that Chinese ancestor worship was compatible with Christianity was condemned by Pope Clement XI in 1715.

Pope Clement XI wishes to make the following facts permanently known to all the people in the world.

I. The West calls Deus [God] the creator of Heaven, Earth, and everything in the universe. Since the word Deus does not sound right i n the Chinese language, the Westerners in China and Chinese converts to Catholicism have used the term "Heavenly Lord" for many years. From now on such terms as "Heaven" and "Shang­ti" should not be used: Deus should be addressed as the Lord of Heaven, Earth, and everything in the universe. The tablet that bears the Chinese words "Reverence for Heaven" should not be allowed to hang inside a Catholic church and should be immediately taken down if already there.

II. The spring and autumn worship of Confucius, together with the worship of ancestors, is not allowed among Catholic converts. It is not allowed even though the converts appear in the ritual as bystanders, because to be a bystander in this ritual is as pagan as to participate in it actively.

III. Chinese officials and successful candidates in the metropolitan, provincial, or prefectural examinations, if they have been converted to Roman Catholicism, are not allowed to worship in Confucian temples on the first and fifteenth days of each month. The same prohibition is applicable to all the Chinese Catholics who, as officials, have recently arrived at their posts or who, as students, have recently passed the metropolitan, provincial, or prefectural examinations.

IV. No Chinese Catholics are allowed to worship ancestors in their familial temples.

V. Whether at home, in the cemetery, or during the time of a funeral, a Chinese Catholic is not allowed to perform the ritual of ancestor worship. He is not allowed to do so even if he is in company with non­Christians. Such a ritual is heathen in nature regardless of the circumstances.

Despite the above decisions, I have made it clear that other Chinese customs and traditions that can in no way be interpreted as heathen in nature should be allowed to continue among Chinese converts. The way the Chinese manage their households or govern their country should by no means be interfered with. As to exactly what customs should or should not be allowed to continue, the papal legate in China will make the necessary decisions. In the absence of the papal legate, the responsibility of making such decisions should rest with the head of the China mission and the Bishop of China. In short, customs and traditions that are not contradictory to Roman Catholicism will be allowed, while those that are clearly contradictory to it will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

From China in Transition, 1517�, Dan. J. Li, trans. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1969), pp. 22䎬

From Decree of Kangxi (1721)

The Kangxi emperor was not happy with Clement's decree, and banned Christian missions in China.

Reading this proclamation, I have concluded that the Westerners are petty indeed. It is impossible to reason with them because they do not understand larger issues as we understand them in China. There is not a single Westerner versed in Chinese works, and their remarks are often incredible and ridiculous. To judge from this proclamation, their religion is no different from other small, bigoted sects of Buddhism or Taoism. I have never seen a document which contains so much nonsense. From now on, Westerners should not be allowed to preach in China, to avoid further trouble.

From China in Transition, 1517�, Dan J. Li, trans. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1969), p. 22.

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University. Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 20 January 2021 [CV]

Community Reviews

Kertzer shows how the relationship between Pope Pius XI and Benito Mussolini played into the rise of Fascism and anti-Semitism. Mussolini demanded absolute power and the pope demanded a dominant position for the Church. Both men were headstrong adversaries who cooperated as needed. Both sacrificed principle to achieve their goals. Their fears, desires, deals and surrounding intrigues would weigh heavily on Italy’s fate particularly that of the nation’s Jews.

Mussolini started his political career Kertzer shows how the relationship between Pope Pius XI and Benito Mussolini played into the rise of Fascism and anti-Semitism. Mussolini demanded absolute power and the pope demanded a dominant position for the Church. Both men were headstrong adversaries who cooperated as needed. Both sacrificed principle to achieve their goals. Their fears, desires, deals and surrounding intrigues would weigh heavily on Italy’s fate particularly that of the nation’s Jews.

Mussolini started his political career as an anti-Catholic socialist. As a supporter of Italy’s entry into WWI he broke with the socialists. He fought in the war and joined fascist groups in 1917. By 1919 he was leading the fascists and formed the National Socialist Party in 1921. Succeeding by violence and intimidation in a politically fractured Italy, his forces marched into Rome in 1922. He demanded and was appointed prime minister by the king. He was now the most powerful person in Italy.

The Vatican was still living in the past. It still laid claim to the Papal States taken from it in 1870 when Italy formed. The dispute meant no formal relation existed between the Vatican and Italy. In fact the Pope would not venture into Rome which he did not recognize as part of Italy. Achille Ratti, a cardinal from a humble background in a small northern Italian town, became Pope Pius XI in 1922. He led a conservative Catholic view that was strongly anti-socialist and anti-Semitic. On top of traditional Catholic demonizing, Jews were now held responsible for bolshevism which Pius XI considered the Church’s biggest threat.

While skeptical of Mussolini’s faith, Pius XI saw him as way to expand the church’s influence. Mussolini likewise saw the church as a way to cement his own. They began an escalating series of quid pro quos. Mussolini granted the Church more power, freedom and praise in exchange for the Church’s support for him. All the while Mussolini’s goons took out dissidents, Catholic or otherwise. Pius XI dismissed these attacks on anti-fascists in his Church as the work of thugs outside of Mussolini’s control. The pope would not criticize Mussolini since he felt the Church needed him to secure its position in Italy.

Behind the scenes through envoys there was a constant tug of war between Mussolini and the Pope for power, but the pope was playing Mussolini’s game. Unknown to the pope, Mussolini had placed spies throughout the Vatican hierarchy. Their daily reports to Mussolini covered Vatican internal discussions and even included accounts of pederasty committed by senior Vatican officials.

In 1929 the Holy See and Mussolini signed the Lateran Accords. The Vatican gave up its claim to the Papal States legitimizing Italian authority in Rome in exchange for recognition as the state religion of Italy and cash. Pius XI was happy and Mussolini thrilled as his power continued to be validated. But soon after, Mussolini made official statements that implied the Church’s rights were at his (Italy’s) pleasure. The pope was angered but did little. While the pope rarely consulted his staff, key members were ardent Mussolini supporters who intervened on Mussolini’s behalf when possible. Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who became Vatican Secretary of State in 1930, was a staunch anti-bolshevist and anti-Semite who was particularly deferential to Mussolini. Pacelli would become Pope Pius XII upon Pius XI’s death.

Mussolini wanted no doubt as to who was really in charge. Mussolini quickly stopped political activity in any part of the Church unless it favored him. The Church’s rights were held to be strictly spiritual. When Mussolini shut down the Catholic Action youth group in 1931 Pius XI was furious. He got Mussolini to let the group operate but only with the stipulation that all Catholic Action youth leaders had to meet Mussolini’s approval. Anyone critical of him would be dismissed. Mussolini was turning the Church youth group into his support group. In 1932/33 Pius XI would expend his political capital pressing Mussolini to prohibit “Immodestly” dressed women, to stop Protestant groups from organizing and to closely monitor Communists and Jews.

In 1933 Hitler became the new chancellor of Germany. Pius XI at first was skeptical of him. One in three Germans was Catholic. Hitler needed Catholic support. Germany’s ambassador to the Vatican conveyed Hitler’s backing for the Church to the pope. But most of all Hitler’s denunciations of bolshevism pleased Pius XI. German Catholic bishops had unanimously denounced the Nazis. The Vatican instructed the bishops to cease opposition to Hitler. The pope’s order undercut the opposition Catholic Center Party which then quickly fell apart. The Vatican signed a concordat with the Nazi government “guaranteeing” the Church’s rights in Germany in exchange for Catholic support. The Nazi’s program of forced sterilization of “defectives” was announced about the same time, which the Church ignored though clearly a violation of Church doctrine. Hitler did as he pleased and began closing Catholic schools.

Hitler played the pope just as Mussolini had. The pope blamed anti-clerical Nazi elements not Hitler himself. Just as with Mussolini, Vatican Secretary of State Pacelli was much more deferential to Hitler than was the pope. Catholic conspiracy theories about Jews such as their comprising the leadership of Russia were widely published in official Church periodicals. Thus Hitler’s anti-Semitic harangues, for example that 98% of Soviet leadership was Jewish, made perfect sense to Germany’s large Catholic population. In fact Jews comprised 6% of the Russian leadership in the 1920’s and less thereafter.

In 1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia. Pius XI was against the war but as usual fell in line. Pacelli and other top Vatican staff supported Mussolini’s colonialist war. The war was essentially genocide. Villages were firebombed, villagers wiped out with poison gas and their water supplies poisoned. Most of the free world including FDR and Americans were horrified. The Church made sure its publications in America backed Mussolini targeting the large Italian-American community. Italian victory in 1936 changed Mussolini. His ego overwhelmed him. He now believed himself invincible.

The Spanish civil War in 1936 drew Mussolini and Hitler closer together greatly disturbing Pius XI. The Pope now saw that half of Catholic schools in Germany had been closed. Pacelli however still considered the communist threat paramount. He visited the US and met with FDR two days after the US election. FDR later said that Pacelli reminded him of Father Coughlin. Pacelli warned FDR of a Communist takeover of the US. Pacelli’s real reason for the visit was to shore up his personal support from the four American cardinals. Pius XI was old and failing and Pacelli wanted to be and would be his successor.

By 1937 almost all Catholic schools in Germany had been closed and the Nazi’s began immorality trials of Catholic priest, monks and nuns for sexual deprivation. Finally the Vatican reacted. At the request of German bishops, an encyclical, watered down to not mention the Nazis by name, was issued critical of German violations of their concordat. It was read in German churches and it infuriated Hitler. Hitler closed Catholic publishing houses and seized diocesan files, which many bishops burned in advance. The Vatican now opposed Hitler, but still strongly supported Mussolini.

In March 1938 Hitler took over Austria. Austria’s Cardinal Innitzer lauded the Führer and pledged his allegiance to the German cause. Mussolini who had wanted Austria under Italian control said nothing. The pope was stunned by both men’s response. Pius XI forced Innitzer to publicly retract his support of the German takeover. Pacelli as usual tried to make sure that neither the Germans or Mussolini were too upset by the Pope’s position.

In May 1938 Hitler visited Rome for five days. Mussolini arranged huge celebrations. Swastikas were everywhere. He and Hitler paraded through the city. They swore their allegiance to each other as supporters including many clergy cheered.

In July 1938 Mussolini began his anti-Semitic campaign. The Church and fascists differed on their definition of Jews. Mussolini aped Hitler. His anti-Semitism was race based. The Church’s anti-Semitism was based on religion and culture. The pope wanted Jews to convert. If they would become good practicing Catholics they were part of the fold and no longer a problem. Church doctrine did not embrace the concept of race. There was only one humanity. The pope decried what he called “extended nationalism” angering Mussolini. The practical issue was marriage between converted Jews and other Catholics. Mussolini’s laws outlawed this but the pope believed the Church controlled marriage as agreed to in the concordat of 1929. Again the pope’s instincts gave in to his staff eager to kowtow to the powerful Mussolini. In August a secret deal was reached giving Church approval to Mussolini’s anti-Semitic laws in exchange for a “promise” that Catholic Action members could remain Fascist party members.

In September 1938 Jewish teachers in Italy at all levels were fired and Jewish children were prohibited from attending public school. The Church did not object, even though the Pope gave a speech in which he lamented the new laws. The Vatican hierarchy excised those remarks from published versions of the speech. Pacelli and other Vatican officials again did everything to avoid friction with the Fascist government by covering up or modifying anything controversial the pope said or wrote. Some important Church officials, such as Jesuit Superior General and virulent anti-Semite Wlodimir Ledochowski, actually believed Mussolini’s new laws were right, although they did not want to appear to criticize the pope.

One prominent ardent Mussolini supporter was Milan Cardinal Schuster who at first publically praised the new laws. But amazingly on November 13, 1938, four days after Kristallnacht stunned the world he spoke out excoriating the laws and characterizing Mussolini as a Hitler neophyte embracing a pagan creed. He instantly went from Fascist favorite to Fascist target. Many northern Italians wondered if one day Hitler’s racism would target them. But Schuster’s change of heart had no impact. The laws were not changed and Mussolini’s staff worked with its key ally in the Vatican, Pacelli, to mute any outburst from the pope.

In February 1939, the 82 year old Pius XI passed away. Lying on his desk was a speech and an encyclical he planned to issue on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Lateran accords. Months before he had asked an American Jesuit priest, Father LaFarge, to help define the Catholic position on racism. The pope had been impressed with LaFarge’s writing on black racial issues in America. The result was the encyclical that opposed racism. Ledochowski as LaFarge’s superior read it first and made every effort to delay it, water it down and keep it from the pope. The pope got it anyway but his untimely death meant it would never be issued. Pacelli made sure it would disappear entirely. He had the Vatican Printing Office destroy all copies of Pius XI’s speech. Pacelli became Pius XII. Only after Pacelli’s death in 1958 would Pope John XXIII release parts of Pius XI’s planned speech and only in 2006 was the full text disclosed.

Under Pius XII, the Vatican became conciliatory and actively sought to improve relations with Mussolini and the Nazis. Pius XII removed the head of Catholic Action which Mussolini had long wanted but an obstinate Pius XI would not do. Even years later when Mussolini fell from power and was arrested Pius XII did not challenge the anti-Semitic laws.

This revealing Pulitzer Prize winner is the result of seven years research into Fascist Italy and Vatican archives that only became available ten years ago. Kertzer dug deep producing a history rich in detail and convincing in its depiction of the relationship between the Church and Mussolini. His portrayal of Pius XI shows a conflicted unsophisticated pontiff easily handled by his subordinates. His account challenges long held beliefs about the role of Cardinal Pacelli as Vatican Secretary of State. Pacelli better known as Pope Pius XII is being considered for sainthood. Kertzer gives us a compelling study for those with an interest in the Church’s role in anti-Semitism and the consolidation of power by the Fascist and Nazi regimes.
. more

Watch the video: ΓΡΗΓΟΡΕΙΤΕ!!!! Τελευταίος Πάπας ΠΡΙΝ τον Αντίχριστο!! Χόρχε Μάριο Μπεργκόλιο Πάπας Φραγκίσκος (January 2022).