Pio XII Tra Guerra E Pace: Profezia E Diplomazia Di Un Papa (1939-1945)

Article excerpt

Pio XII tra guerra epace:profezta e diplomazta di un papa (1939-1945). By Matteo Luigi Napolitano. [I volti della storia, Vol. 12.] (Rome: Citta Nuova Editrice. 2002. Pp. 296. euro18,00.)

Matteo Luigi Napolitano (b. 1962), an expert on church and state and on treaties and international politics, is a professor at the University of Urbino, Italy. The title of this work,"Pius XII between War and Peace," is derived from the description of the pope ("Uomo di pace e papa di guerra," p. 97) by Domenico Tardini, later papal secretary of state for Blessed Pope John XXIII, while the subtitle emphasizes "the intimate connection between prophecy and diplomacy in the work of Pius XII, in whom theological thought and political action reciprocally reinforced one another" (p. 19I)-In five chapters of this study of Vatican foreign policy, Napolitano undertakes a thorough historical analysis of the character and behavior of Pius XII as found in the archival documents of the Vatican and of the warring nations as well as in the secondary sources. What emerges is Pacelli's steady pursuit of peace and his tireless intervention for the victims of the war, thereby undermining the myth of the pope's alleged silence.

Starting with the birth of that allegation in Rolf Hochhuth's The Deputy (1963) and underscoring its shortcomings in blurring the lines between theater and history (chap. 1), Napolitano moves on to examine the pope's initiatives in the context of the turmoil of the polemics which have developed since that time and shows how the Vatican responded to such a charge with the publication of its documents relating to World War II (chap. 2). By placing the challenges to the Vatican's foreign policy in the context of that war, the author is able to demonstrate how the pope was able to shape a policy which was diplomatic and prophetic, as Pacelli, mindful of St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy (2:4 on God desiring the salvation of all persons), sought to prevent war and, with its outbreak, tried to cope with its forward thrust, especially from the fall of France to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union (chap. …