Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Pie XI: Le Pape De l'Action Catholique

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Pie XI: Le Pape De l'Action Catholique

Article excerpt

Late Modern European Pie XI: Le Pape de ¡'Action Catholique. By Marcel Launay. (Paris: Les editions du Cerf. 2018. Pp. 238. €20,00 paperback. ISBN 978-2-204-126266-7.)

After Benedict XVI's Motu proprio in 2006, which established the opening of the Vatican Secret Archives to the documents related to Pius XI's pontificate, several scholars from all over the world went to Rome to get access to the new records. From then onwards, numerous books and conference proceedings were published, pointing out historians' strong interest for the position of the Holy See in the international arena in the decades between the two world wars.

In the Introduction of this new monograph on Pius XI, Launey avows that the new Curial documents allowed a renewal of the research with what has been qualified as a "historical zeal" (p. 8). Unfortunately, this book has no critical apparatus; therefore it is not possible to understand whether the author had the opportunity to make use of his own research exploiting the Vatican Archives or he only employed secondhand bibliography (edited sources and existing historiography) to write this book. Besides, as he admits, he preferred to use only French-language sources (p. 225). Considering the vast literature published in many languages on the subject (at least in Italian, English, German, and Spanish) the choice of the author was quite disappointing.

The subtitle of the volume, "The Pope of the Catholic Action," finds no explanation in the biography of Pius XI sketched by Launey since he rightly touches various important aspects of Achille Ratti's life from his birth to his years as Vicar of Christ: his education, his career as nuncio in Poland, professor, prefect of the Ambrosiana Library and of the Vatican Library, archbishop of Milan. …

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