Vatican Secret Diplomacy


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Joseph P. Hurley and Pope Pius XII

Charles R. Gallagher, S.J.

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In the corridors of the Vatican on the eve of World War II, American Catholic priest Joseph Patrick Hurley found himself in the midst of secret diplomatic dealings and intense debate. Hurley’s deeply felt American patriotism and fixed ideas about confronting Nazism directly led to a mighty clash with Pope Pius XII. It was 1939, the earliest days of Pius’s papacy, and controversy within the Vatican over policy toward Nazi Germany was already heated. This groundbreaking book is both a biography of Joseph Hurley, the first American to achieve the rank of nuncio, or Vatican ambassador, and an insider’s view of the alleged silence of the pope on the Holocaust and Nazism.


Drawing on Hurley’s unpublished archives, the book documents critical debates in Pope Pius’s Vatican, secret U.S.-Vatican dealings, the influence of Detroit’s flamboyant anti-Semitic priest Charles E. Coughlin, and the controversial case of Croatia’s Cardinal Stepinac. The book also sheds light on the powerful connections between religion and politics in the twentieth century.


Charles R. Gallagher is currently engaged in theological studies at Heythrop College, University of London. He is the author of Cross and Crozier: A History of Catholicism in the Diocese of St. Augustine.

"Joseph P. Hurley, though a little-known figure, was at the center of many intriguing diplomatic episodes. Gallagher tells his story with gusto and makes worthwhile contributions to scholarship."—James O'Toole, Boston College

"Gallagher's research on the Father Coughlin controversy and the 'Stepinac Affair' is particularly interesting and rewarding."—Roy Domenico, University of Scranton

"This book is eminently well-researched. The writing is bright and attractive. In the judgments made about his subject the author is objective and fair. The volume deserves a special place on the shelf of American religious history."—Michael Gannon, St. Augustine Record

"An interesting story, and Gallagher tells it well."—David Alvarez, Catholic Historical Review

“Based on research into the copious papers of [Jesuit Monsignor] Joseph P Hurley… Father Gallagher’s biography of Hurley is a superb piece of historical research and gives an authentic picture of Pius XII’s papacy.” - Jewish Chronicle

"[E]ngaging, well-written, and well researched . . . The story is fascinating, and Gallagher delivers a first-rate book."—Beth A. Griech-Polelle, Journal of Cold War Studies

Winner of the 2009 John Gilmary Shea Prize, presented by the American Catholic Historical Association.
ISBN: 9780300121346
Publication Date: June 10, 2008
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
15 b/w illus.