By any reckoning the issues at stake in the relationship between Pius XII and Hitler's Germany are key to any understanding of the origins and progress of the Second World War. This is neither a demolition job nor a piece of hagiography. Noel neither denies the fatal effect of the Vatican's Concord with Hitler nor his failure to condemn Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jews. But this is a highly original study of the exercise of political and religious power, of real politik and the extent to which politics is always the art of the possible. But beyond this, we are offered a portrait of a man in highest power and authority who was mother fixated, who was dominated by a German nun Sister Pasqualina who became the real power behind the throne and who was ultimately more liberal and anti-Nazi that the Pope. It was Pasqualina herself who did most to shelter the Jewish population of Rome. There is also, in this book, the first full account of how the Pope went in for a course of rejuvenating injections to prolong his life, administered by a Swiss doctor of doubtful qualification. As time advanced Pius XII became more and more aloof and rigid in his views.In 1950 he promulgated, the Doctrine of The Assumption as infallible, the ultimate expression of the exercise of autocratic power. There is a move to canonise Pius XII, resisted tooth and nail by influential Jewish people with justice. For this reason not least Pius XII will continue to command huge attention and controversy. He will not disappear. But beyond all these red hot issues, Noel has produced an extraordinary interpretation of the exercise of power and the psychological mechanisms behind it.
Pius XII by Gerard Noel was published by Continuum in July 2008. The ISBN for Pius XII is 9781847063557.