Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII

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The “explosive” (The New York Times) bestseller—now with a new introduction by the author

When Hitler’s Pope, the shocking story of Pope Pius XII that “redefined the history of the twentieth century” (The Washington Post ) was originally published, it sparked a firestorm of controversy both inside and outside the Catholic Church. Now, award-winning journalist John Cornwell has revisited this seminal work of history with a new introduction that both answers his critics and reaffirms his overall thesis that Pius XII, now scheduled to be canonized by the Vatican, weakened the Catholic Church with his endorsement of Hitler—and sealed the fate of the Jews in Europe.
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About the author

John Cornwell is in the department of history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University. He is a regular feature writer at the Sunday Times (London) and the author and editor of four books on science, including Power to Harm, on the Louisville Prozac trial, as well as Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII and Breaking Faith: Can the Catholic Church Save Itself?
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Oct 1, 2000
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9781101202494
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Religious
History / Military / World War II
Religion / Christianity / Catholic
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division ‘Wallonien’, which mostly consisted of French-speaking citizens of the Kingdom of Belgium – first as part of the Wehrmacht, and later in the ranks of the Waffen SS – fought as one of the national legions against the Red Army on the Eastern Front in February 1942. The Walloons gained fame during the legendary resistance in Cherkassy Pocket, where in early 1944 they lost more than fifty percent of their strength. In the summer of the same year they fought a defensive battle in Estonia in the region of Dorpat, and in February 1945 were directed to Western Pomerania, where until the last days of the war they put up a stubborn resistance to the armies of Stalin.

This book, which was originally published in Polish, is based on the unpublished memoirs of participants of these events, and is the first account to describe the Walloons’ participation in the mysterious Pomeranian campaign in such a detailed manner. It tells the tragic story of the Walloon volunteers, who at all costs tried to stop the onrush of the enemy standing at the gates of the Third Reich. The Pomeranian odyssey led by the controversial and infamous Volksführer Leon Degrelle went on for three months, and the trial meant death and courage. Stargard, Altdamm, Neu Rosow – these are locations, that became synonyms for unconditional sacrifice. They are also a symbol of kameradschaft, of a group of tough guys and daredevils, who were determined to stake everything on one throw of the dice.

The book is illustrated with unique photographs, known so far only to a small group of people. These are complemented by a special comic created by the French artist Godus and with images made with great attention to detail, which were produced for historical reconstruction, showing silhouettes of the Walloon soldiers. It is worth noting that some of these were made in the same location where the fighting raged in April 1945.
Was Pope Pius XII a Nazi Sympathizer?

For almost fifty years, a controversy has raged about Pope Pius XII. Was the Pope who had shepherded the Church through World War II a Nazi sympathizer? Was he, as some have dared call him, Hitler's pope? Did he do nothing to help the Jewish people in the grips of the Holocaust?

In a thoroughly researched and meticulously documented analysis of the historical record, Ronald Rychlak has gotten past the anger and emotion and uncovered the truth about Pius XII. Not only does he refute the accusations against the Pope, but for the first time documents how the slanders against him had their roots in a Soviet Communist campaign to discredit him and, by extension, the Church.

"Let those who doubt but read Rychlak, follow his exquisitely organized courtroon-like arguments. What Professor Rychlak brings to the forum are facts, not rhetoric; dates, not conjecture; evidence, not slander.... The world owes Ronald Rychlak a debt for bringing the truth to light." -- Rabbi Eric A. Silver

"In his well-crafted pages...the portrait that emerges is one of an extraordinary pastor facing extremely vexing circumstances, of a holy man vying against an evil man, of a human being trying to save the lives of other human beings, of a light shining in the darkness." -- John Cardinal O'Connor (1920-2000) Archbishop of New York (from the Foreword to the first edition)

"I have read many books on Pius XII, and this is by far the most dispassionate in laying out the context, relevant facts, accusations, and evidence pro and con. The book is highly engaging because it is filled with so many little-known facts. The research has been prodigious. Yet the presentation is as down-to-earth as it would have to be in a courtroom.... This is a wonderfully realistic book." -- Michael Novak, George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy, American Enterprise Institute

Over more than a quarter of a century, John Paul II has firmly set his stamp on the billion-member strong Catholic Church for future generations and he has become one of the most influential political figures in the world. His key role in the downfall of communism in Europe, as well as his apologies for the Catholic Church’s treatment of Jews and to victims of the Inquisition, racism, and religious wars, won him worldwide admiration. Yet his papacy has also been marked by what many perceive as misogyny, homophobia, and ecclesiastical tyranny. Some critics suggest that his perpetuation of the Church’s traditional hierarchical paternalism contributed to pedophiliac behavior in the priesthood and encouraged superiors to sweep the crimes under the carpet. The Pontiff in Winter brings John Paul’s complex, contradictory character into sharp focus. In a bold, highly original work, John Cornwell argues that John Paul’s mystical view of history and conviction that his mission has been divinely established are central to understanding his pontificate. Focusing on the period from the eve of the millennium to the present, Cornwell shows how John Paul’s increasing sense of providential rightness profoundly influenced his reactions to turbulence in the secular world and within the Church, including the 9/11 attacks, the pedophilia scandals in the United States, the clash between Islam and Christianity, the ongoing debates over the Church’s policies regarding women, homosexuals, abortion, AIDS, and other social issues, and much more. A close, trusted observer of the Vatican, Cornwell combines eyewitness reporting with information from the best sources in and outside the pope’s inner circle. Always respectful of John Paul’s prodigious spirit and unrelenting battles for human rights and religious freedom, Cornwell raises serious questions about a system that grants lifetime power to an individual vulnerable to the vicissitudes of aging and illness. The result is a moving, elegiac portrait of John Paul in the winter of his life and a thoughtful, incisive assessment of his legacy to the Church.
As we all know and as many of our well established textbooks have argued for decades, the Inquisition was one of the most frightening and bloody chapters in Western history, Pope Pius XII was anti-Semitic and rightfully called “Hitler’s Pope,” the Dark Ages were a stunting of the progress of knowledge to be redeemed only by the secular spirit of the Enlightenment, and the religious Crusades were an early example of the rapacious Western thirst for riches and power. But what if these long held beliefs were all wrong?
In this stunning, powerful, and ultimately persuasive book, Rodney Stark, one of the most highly regarded sociologists of religion and bestselling author of The Rise of Christianity (HarperSanFrancisco 1997) argues that some of our most firmly held ideas about history, ideas that paint the Catholic Church in the least positive light are, in fact, fiction. Why have we held these wrongheaded ideas so strongly and for so long? And if our beliefs are wrong, what, in fact, is the truth?
In each chapter, Stark takes on a well-established anti-Catholic myth, gives a fascinating history of how each myth became the conventional wisdom, and presents a startling picture of the real truth. For example, Instead of the Spanish Inquisition being an anomaly of torture and murder of innocent people persecuted for “imaginary” crimes such as witchcraft and blasphemy, Stark argues that not only did the Spanish Inquisition spill very little blood, but it was a major force in support of moderation and justice. Instead of Pope Pius XII being apathetic or even helpful to the Nazi movement, such as to merit the title, “Hitler’s Pope,” Stark shows that the campaign to link Pope Pius XII to Hitler was initiated by the Soviet Union, presumably in hopes of neutralizing the Vatican in post-World War II affairs. Pope Pius XII was widely praised for his vigorous and devoted efforts to saving Jewish lives during the war. Instead of the Dark Ages being understood as a millennium of ignorance and backwardness inspired by the Catholic Church’s power, Stark argues that the whole notion of the “Dark Ages” was an act of pride perpetuated by anti-religious intellectuals who were determined to claim that theirs was the era of “Enlightenment.” In the end, readers will not only have a more accurate history of the Catholic Church, they will come to understand why it became unfairly maligned for so long. Bearing False Witness is a compelling and sobering account of how egotism and ideology often work together to give us a false truth.
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