Monday, January 10, 2005

50 Book Challenge, Book 1

Hitler's Pope - the story of Eugenio Pacelli - Pope Pius XII -by John Cornwell
Cornwell approached this task from the perspective of an unbiased observer who wanted to report all of the facts, rather than the select accounts from one side or another written previously. By taking this stance, he was granted unprecedented access to documents written from different perspectives.

In the end while acknowledging the complex circumstances Pacelli faced, it just comes down to a refusal to act or voice protest on behalf of the Jews - just crazy when you think of what might NOT have happened had something, anything been said.

I found some of the political details very interesting, some on church politics a bit tedious. I haven't done a lot of reading on early twentieth century intrigues beyond France, the Romanovs, and the Gypsies, so details on politics in Germany between the wars, in Serbia & Austria prior to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and in Croatia in the WWII era - a massacre I had not really been aware of before. (Kinda' scary that a huge hunk of a country's population could get slaughtered and people don't really know about it)
Also interesting that Pacelli fell into Hitler's trap to ban political Catholicism in Germany - if the Vatican says it's illegal, that's huge - which was really the only force that could have held Hitler in check or kept him from gaining power. Pacelli didn't care for political Catholicism (it was outside of papal control) and he was eager to keep Catholic schools in the treaty - he was vulnerable to manipulation.

Overall,I find it very creepy when politicians gain a church's highest office. No matter how devout he was, he was driven by a desire for papal power and that, to me and to those he refused to speak out for, compromises the quality of spiritual leadership he could provide.
Not really very holy, in my eyes.

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