Saturday, September 11, 2010
"Pope and Devil" More reviews.
In rich detail, Wolf presents astonishing findings from the recently opened Vatican archives—discoveries that clarify the relations between National Socialism and the Vatican. He illuminates the thinking of the popes, cardinals, and bishops who saw themselves in a historic struggle against evil. Never have the inner workings of the Vatican—its most important decisions and actions—been portrayed so fully and vividly.
Author: Hubert Wolf is Professor of Church History at the University of Münster.
“Pope and Devil is a must-read for anybody interested in the Vatican’s relationship with Germany in the tumultuous years leading up to World War II, including the hotly debated issue of ‘the silence of Pius XII.’ This book brings new complexity and insight to the debate on Pius XII’s ‘silence.’”—John W. O’Malley, S.J., author of What Happened at Vatican II
“[An] excellent examination of the Pius XI archives...No stranger to the dark side of church history, and intimately familiar with ecclesiastical dogma, politics, and procedure, Wolf presents sensitive material with admirable evenhandedness, avoiding both apology and easy condemnation...Pope and Devil gives us a behind-the-scenes exploration of what made the Vatican tick, providing the sort of background information with which political historians contextualize the decisions of secular leaders like Churchill or Roosevelt. Wolf shows that in the last months of his life Ratti became consumed with the issue of Nazi-inspired racism, and devoted much of his waning energy to it; while Pacelli, for his part, "was clear in his rejection of racial anti-Semitism, and...believed that the church had a general responsibility to support human rights." Both men, however, understood their responsibilities in the light of traditional Catholic priorities. Both viewed Catholic dogma as immutable; and both consistently put Catholic institutional objectives--understood as an essential requirement of salvation--first and foremost.”—Michael R. Marrus, Commonweal
“Hubert Wolf’s extraordinarily lucid and well-researched Pope and Devil performs the much valued task of throwing light into dark corners sans the sensationalism and tendentious argumentation that have defined too much scholarship in the area...Pope and Devil takes the reader through the labyrinthine corridors of Vatican diplomacy in the 1920s and 1930s, the political turmoil that defined those papal strategies that tried to make sense of or at least limit the damage of the rising totalitarianism inundating Europe, and the intrigue and politicking that characterized the often fraught relationship among such parties as the nuncios or Vatican ambassadors in Berlin and Munich, the papal Secretary of State and the Head of the Supreme Congregation more commonly known as the Holy Office of the Roman Inquisition. No easy feat and Wolf manages it in a way that is both enlightening and entertaining.”—Michael W. Higgins, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
“The Vatican’s dealings with the Third Reich during the reign of Pius XII’s predecessor, Pius XI (1922-1939), have received rather less attention. But since the archives for that pontificate were opened in 2006, our understanding has increased enormously. Herbert Wolf’s book contributes greatly to that understanding.”—John Pollard, Times Higher Education
“Wolf’s absorbing study shows in fascinating detail how ready Pius XI was to sup with authoritarian devils of both left and right in hopes of striking the best balance he could.”—Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman
“Wolf has written a very important book. It does not explain the ‘silence’ of Pius VII, though it certainly exonerates him of the charge that he was in any way sympathetic to the regime in Germany. It also reveals a man with a misplaced confidence in his own competence.”—Michael Walsh, The Tablet