David Kertzer, Professor of Social Science, Anthropology and Italian Studies at Brown University; Author, The Pope and Mussolini
From the Vatican archives comes the story of two men who rose to power in 1922: one was scholarly and devout, the other thuggish and profane. Both distrusted democracy and hated communism. In exchange for the restoration of church privileges and the enforcement of Catholic morality, Pius XI played a crucial role in making Mussolini's dictatorship possible. However, as his health was failing, Pius XI lashed out at Il Duce and threatened to denounce his anti-Semitic racial laws. Maneuvering quickly, the Vatican's inner circle, including the future Pope Pius XII, prevented the headstrong yet ill pope from destroying the treacherous partnership that had served the Church and the dictator so well.