The Vatican’s Response to Fascist and Nazi Aggression

Pope Pius XI tackled Fascist aggression in Italy and publicly condemned the Italian onslaught and occupation of Ethiopia. Without the public support of most of his own Italian bishops, this pope led the crusade against Mussolini, which enabled peace and freedom to eventually prosper, especially in Ethiopia. At the same time, Pope Pius XI responded to the growing persecution against Jews as Mussolini and Hitler established stronger ties between their governments. What is hardly known is how much Pius XI, together with his Cardinal Secretary of State, Eugene Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) did combat the National Socialists. Abyssinian Christianity features personal testimony and new data that sheds light on a matter that was seen by some historians as ambiguous at best. Many historians have falsely condemned the Roman Pontiff as an enemy of Ethiopians when in fact he was one of the few who defended them, as he did at the same time with the Jews.

Historians such as Giovanni Sale, S.J., and Riccardo Bottoni have helped us re-visit this epoch. These historians have revealed that the Church of Rome did not abandon the Ethiopians; rather, it did everything in its capacity to assist them.