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Britain and the Vatican during the Second World War (Ford Lectures) [Hardcover]

Owen Chadwick
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

8 Jan 1987 Ford Lectures (Book 1981)
The book studies the use made by the British government of its envoy, immured inside the Vatican from 1940 to 1944, and what the envoy made of such opportunities during the Second World War to help the Allied cause. We see the Vatican, the Fascist Italy, from 'inside', and so gain a new and rare perspective into the predicament of the papacy. Owen Chadwick gives insight into the workings of the Vatican, including such questions as the struggle to keep Italy out of the war, the relations between the Vatican and the Fascist government, the use which the British sought to make of Vatican radio, the question of condemning atrocities, the bombing of Rome, the fall of Fascism, the armistice between the Allies and Italy, the German occupation of Rome, and the escape line for British prisoners of war. The author has used several groups of hitherto unexplored archives, and makes a fresh contribution both to the history of the Second World War and to the modern history of the papacy.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition, Reprinted edition (8 Jan 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521322421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521322423
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'This is one of the most interesting books so far written about the Second World War … a strange tale wonderfully told by the master of the art of writing history.' Robert Blake, Illustrated London News

'The whole narrative is full of … fascinating details, and they are told with great skill … [The volume] gives us a completely new insight into the inner workings of that Vatican, and the human story of the relationship between two exceptional men is sheer delight.' Denis Mack Smith, Times Literary Supplement

'With this book, Owen Chadwick had quite simply changed the agenda for historians who really want to understand what the Vatican was up to during the war.' Peter Hebblethwaite, Guardian

'… admirably succinct and readable account of diplomatic life in the Vatican … his lively narrative provides a fascinating picture of the Vatican under siege'. Daily Telegraph

Book Description

The book studies the use made by the British Government of its envoy, immured inside the Vatican from 1940 to 1944, and what the envoy made of such opportunities during the Second World War to help the Allied cause.

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In the year 1936 34 nations kept ambassadors or ministers or charges at the Holy See. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Papal Dilemma 16 Feb 2014
This splendid book provides a wealth of detail about the relationship between Britain and the Vatican and acts as a corrective to the wide-ranging critique of the Catholic Church by those depicting it as favourable to the dictatorships of Mussolini and Hitler. It places the Vatican firmly in its Italian. political and diplomatic contexts. After the signing of the Lateran Treaty the status of the Pope changed from that of prisoner in the Vatican to one of political dignitary. From Britain's perspective the fact that the empire had many Catholic subjects in Ireland, Malta and French Canada, was an important factor in dealings with the papacy. Between October 1935 and the middle of 1937 the British regarded Pope Pius X1 as being in Mussolini's pocket, particularly in his sympathy for the war in Abyssinia which was popular amongst Italian churchmen who regarded the war as opening the country to the Catholic faith and Roman civilisation. The Pope said nothing contrary to clerics who claimed the war was right and the League of Nations wrong to oppose it. The Pope's concern was that opposing Mussolini would encourage anticlerical opponents.

However, Pius X1 changed his political stance issuing the encyclical 'Mit brennender Sorge' which stated 'Whoever gives the idea of race or people or state or form of government a value that of the ordinary world and claims to make idols of them, violates the divine order of things'. Hitler and the Nazis were infuriated. When Mussolini introduced anti-semitic legislation Pius X1 ' denounced racialism and perverted nationalism in strong language'. He criticised the Italian government for imitating the Nazi's racialist policies. One Nazi article accused him of being in alliance with International Jewry.
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