Just posted: Kevin Spinale, S.J., talks with Peter Eisner, author of The Pope’s Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler. Mr. Eisner's book tells the story of America editor John LaFarge, S.J., who was brought to Rome to help Pius XI write an encyclical condemning Nazi ideology.
1. Realpolitik is the notion that success in politics is determined by the clever manipulation of others and the shrewd and careful use of power to achieve one’s ends. Robert Caro’s multivolume biography suggests LBJ is a clear example of effective realpolitik in his work to guide civil rights acts through Congress. Do Pius XI and John LaFarge ultimately fail in their noble efforts against Fascism because they do not effectively employ realpolitik to achieve their ends? Are Pius XI’s vituperative denunciations of Mussolini and Hitler ultimately ineffective because of imprudence? At the other end of the spectrum, do LaFarge’s naïveté and his earnest obedience to his Superior General ultimately render his own efforts ineffective?
2. What about the complexity of Europe in 1938-39: should we allow Pacelli and Ledochowski some slack? Should we consider the thorny realities of the Spanish Civil War, the military weakness of France and Britain, and the might of Stalin’s Soviet Russia? Were their inclinations toward Fascism completely unfounded?
3. Ultimately, does the reader of Eisner’s book sense in Pius XII, Ledochowski and others, the same inclinations that might be detected in the clergy sex abuse crisis at the end of the century: the institution must above all be protected?
Read Kevin's introduction to the book here.