The first comprehensive history of the Vatican’s agenda to defeat the forces of secular liberalism and communism through international law, cultural diplomacy, and a marriage of convenience with authoritarian and right-wing rulers.
After the United States entered World War I and the Russian Revolution exploded, the Vatican felt threatened by forces eager to reorganize the European international order and cast the Church out of the public sphere. In response, the papacy partnered with fascist and right-wing states as part of a broader crusade that made use of international law and cultural diplomacy to protect European countries from both liberal and socialist taint.
A Twentieth-Century Crusade reveals that papal officials opposed Woodrow Wilson’s international liberal agenda by pressing governments to sign concordats assuring state protection of the Church in exchange for support from the masses of Catholic citizens. These agreements were implemented in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, as well as in countries like Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. In tandem, the papacy forged a Catholic International—a political and diplomatic foil to the Communist International—which spread a militant anticommunist message through grassroots organizations and new media outlets. It also suppressed Catholic antifascist tendencies, even within the Holy See itself.
Following World War II, the Church attempted to mute its role in strengthening fascist states, as it worked to advance its agenda in partnership with Christian Democratic parties and a generation of Cold War warriors. The papal mission came under fire after Vatican II, as Church-state ties weakened and antiliberalism and anticommunism lost their appeal. But—as Giuliana Chamedes shows in her groundbreaking exploration—by this point, the Vatican had already made a lasting mark on Eastern and Western European law, culture, and society.
Fascinating…A work of tremendous ambitions and impressive panoramic scope. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, it charts one of the 20th century’s most far-reaching cultural-political projects, which stretched over dozens of countries and unfolded over decades…What Chamedes has superbly charted is the world that [Pope] Francis has set to demolish. How his alternative will fare, and whether it will succeed where his predecessors had failed, is still to be seen.
Readers seeking backstories for the Vatican agreements that legitimated Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany will not be disappointed. Nor will students wrestling with how to place the Vatican within the global history of the twentieth century…Part intellectual history, part history of the international system, part collective biography.
Eye-opening…Zealous hostility to communism and socialism led the church into legal alliance with right-wing reactionaries…This fascinating book highlights that the church’s present is always in dialogue with its past.
This study of what preceded Vatican II can help one to appreciate the Council even more.
Has the potential for very broad appeal…Chamedes’ work seems to provide the necessary framework for any future study of Catholic internationalism.
Superb…Chamedes’s book is a magisterial achievement. It will remain the standard work on Catholic internationalism for years.
Chamedes’s excellent new book is a welcome corrective to standard narratives about the papacy’s supposed irrelevance in modern international history…A fluidly written, engaging and ground-breaking work that deserves a wide audience. This book will benefit…anyone seeking to understand the role of ideology in modern international history.
While much has been written about the Catholic anti-Communist crusade in the interwar period, [Chamedes] examines it more thoroughly and comprehensively than most historians have done hitherto…This is an important monograph on an important aspect of the history of the papacy in the twentieth century.
The picture that emerges of the Church’s political role in twentieth-century Europe is utterly damning…Will stand as a vital account of the uses to which [the Vatican’s] force has been put, shorn of apologetics and exhaustively documented.
This important book reveals the unknown story of the Vatican’s efforts to reshape international relations in the twentieth century. Facing new competition from secularism, liberalism, and communism, the Church responded with an international program of its own: ‘concordat diplomacy.’ In recovering this lost history, Chamedes sheds new light on seemingly familiar terrain and enhances our understanding of a complicated past that continues to resonate today.
This is transnational history at its best. In this impressively researched book, Giuliana Chamedes reaches into all corners of the European continent as she brings forth the crucial role of the Vatican and its particular brand of internationalism in Europe’s tumultuous twentieth century. It is essential reading for those interested in modern Europe and in religion.
Chamedes offers a pathbreaking study of twentieth-century Catholic internationalism and papal diplomacy that illuminates a vast terrain of hitherto unknown transnational activity. Her book is not just an eye-opening addition to the literature on internationalism, it reframes our understanding of twentieth-century modernity. An essential contribution.
This comprehensive study provides a broad perspective on 20th-century papal diplomacy's crusade to sustain Catholic influence in European society.
- 2020, Joint winner of the Michael H. Hunt Prize for International History
- 2020, Winner of the Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize
- 440 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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