Today historian David Kertzer talks to us about his new book The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe. In the interview he explains why the Catholic Church was interested in allying with dictator Benito Mussolini in the 1920’s and 30’s:
The popes had seen the Italian government as enemies, basically. They had rejected the notion of the separation of church and state, they had lost their privileged position in society, and they had always called that system illegitimate. Pius XI at least began to see the possibility that Mussolini might be the person sent by God — the man of providence — as he would later refer to him … who would reverse all of that, who would end the separation of church and state, restore many of the prerogatives of the church and at the same time, as the Pope was very worried about the rising socialist movement … saw Mussolini as the man who was the best bet, perhaps, to prevent a socialist takeover of Italy.
photo of St. Peter’s Basilica via flickr