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When War Comes: The Response Of The Roman Catholic Church To The Fascist Powers Of Italy, Germany and Spain, 1935-1945
  • Brandy G Robinson
The following thesis examines the Vatican's role and its international political relations during World War II (1939-1945). Using primary and secondary sources critically, the researcher purports to advance the proposition that the Catholic Church was neither in agreement with the Fascist and the Nazi regimes during the inter-war years and thereafter (1918-1945) nor did it condone the treatment of the Jews, which culminated with the Holocaust, as several writers have impugned the Vatican in the persons of Popes Pius XI and Pius XII who occupied the Holy See at the time. The thesis argues that the Church was in a catch 22, in that, if it opposed too vehemently and publicly, especially Mussolini's and Hitler's rise to power, the Church would not only suffer but it might even be completely effaced from the earth, as it faced some of the most brutal and ruthless leaders Europe had ever seen before. This study will contribute to the literature and the debate over the role of the papacy during the period in question, as it specifically narrows down the topic of culpability of the Church by re-examining the views of several well known researchers of the controversy. This does not mean, however, that, by exculpating the Vatican, the author is forgetting or minimizing the inhumane acts committed by Hitler and Mussolini as well as by the other Fascist leaders of the time.
The specific purpose of this thesis is to evaluate and explore the other side to this dialogue such as (1) why the Vatican remained silent or did not act with force and direct opposition to either Fascism or Nazism and (2) how religion was used as a tool to fuel war and the conflict that resulted in World War II (1939-1945). The author attempts to create opportunities for discussions about how vulnerabilities, such as the "Roman Question," opened the door for the Vatican and religion as a whole to be used as one of the catalysts that precipitated the Second Great War. Most scholarly research squarely focuses on the alleged Catholic Church's inaction and its perceived silence on the atrocities committed against various minority groups. Few scholarly avenues examine the role of religion as a tool in war: This study does.
In order to achieve a balanced view of the position of the Catholic Church, historical documents from the 1935 to 1945 are examined. Further, the writings or the historiography made available to researchers by various authors who examined the Roman Catholic Church's role in World War II and the controversy surrounding its stance are the backdrop of the argument presented in the work at hand. Overall, the findings seem to reveal that, for a long period of time, the Vatican was an unfortunate and unintended passive bystander in the intense political dilemmas; yet, the reasons why and how the Church became a bystander are detailed here.
  • Philosophy,
  • religion and theology,
  • Social sciences,
  • Italy,
  • Germany,
  • Spain,
  • Catholic Church,
  • World War II
Publication Date
December, 2014
Citation Information
Brandy G Robinson. "When War Comes: The Response Of The Roman Catholic Church To The Fascist Powers Of Italy, Germany and Spain, 1935-1945" (2014)
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