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THE HIDDEN ENCYCLICAL OF PIUS XI AGAINST RACISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM UNCOVERED— ONCE AGAIN! A BIBUOGRAPHICAL ESSAY FrankJ. Coppa Recently two volumes appeared which shed considerable light on the "encyclical" Humant Generis Unitas (On the Unity of the Human Race), which Pope Pius XI commissioned against racism and antiSemitism in 1938. Unfortunately, Pius XI died early in February, 1939, before it could be issued. His Secretary of State and chief coUaborator, Eugenio PaceUi, who succeeded as Pius XII early in March, 1939, decided to shelve this "encyclical," which was not released during the course of the war, during the Holocaust, or even in the postwar period. One can only surmise what its impact might have been, if pubUshed.1 Its private publication in the 1900's has reopened the debate on the position of the CathoUc Church toward racism and the Holocaust.2 As early as 1972 Gordon Zahn regretted the faUure of this strong papal indictment of anti-Semitism to appear, deeming it a missed opportunity .3 The two current volumes which explore this "lost opportunity ," are respectively by Georges Passelecq and Bernard Suchecky: L'Encyclique Cacheé de PieXI: Une occasion manquee de l'Égliseface à l'antisémitisme,with a preface by Emile Poulat (Paris: Editions La Découverte , 1995), and Robert A. Hecht, An Unordinary Man: A Life of Father fohn LaFarge, SJ. (Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, 1996). The first was written by Georges Passelecq, a Belgian Benedictine monk and vice-president of the Belgian National Commission for Relations with the Jewish World, and the Belgian Jewish historian 'Emile Poulat, Preface "Pie XI, les Juifs, et l'antisémitisme," Georges Passelecq and Bernard Suchecky, L'Encyclique Cachée de Pie XI. Une occasion manquee de l'Église face à l'antisémitisme (Paris: La Découverte, 1995), p. 27. 2Kirkus Reviews July 1, 1997, p. 1014. 'Gordon Zahn, "The unpublished encyclical—an opportunity missed," National Catholic Reporter, December 15, 1972, p. 9. 63 64 THE HIDDEN ENCYCUCAL OF PIUS XI AGAINST RACISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM UNCOVERED Bernard Suchecky. The second is the contribution of Robert A. Hecht, professor of history at Kingsborough Community CoUege of the City University of New York. More recently, the Passelecq and Suchecky volume , translated into EngUsh from the French by Steven RendaU, has been published under the title The Hidden Encyclical ofPius XI (New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1997). However, it does not include Poulat's preface, which has been replaced by Gary WiUs's "Introduction : Fumbling toward Justice."4 Although the appearance of these volumes has once more brought the "encycUcal" to pubUc attention, with various publications commenting on it,5 its existence has been long known. In the summer of 1938 Pius XI pubUcly made reference to it.6 Father John LaFarge, SJ., who was assigned the task of writing the encycUcal by Pius XI under the seal of secrecy, made reference to it, though not his role in drafting it, in his article on "Racism" for the New Catholic Encyclopedia. He noted therein: It is weU known that Pius XI planned in 1939 to issue an encyclical dealing directly with the racist issue, notably from the standpoint of its obvious and un-Christian anti-Semitism, but also dealing with the question of the color bar as well. He referred to this proposed document as an Ineditum in a public audience later in the summer of 1939 [1938], His subsequent illness and death prevented the fulfillment of his plan.7 In that same 1967 article, LaFarge indicated that Pius XII had borrowed from this unedited text in his first encycUcal, the Summi Pontiflcatus of October 20, 1939·8 His Jesuit collaborators in drafting the encyclical, unfortunately, because of inadequate proofreadng, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Wills appears to confuse Pius IX and Pius X in the Introduction (pp. xv-xvi). 'In this regard see Frederick Brown, "The Hidden Encyclical," The New Republic, April 15, 1996, and Eric J. Greenberg, "Pressuring the Pope: Secret Vatican treatise on antiSemitism spurs Jewish leader to insist Pope John Paul issue Papal Encyclical," Thefewish Week,Mzy 3, 1996, pp. 27-30.The appearance of the English edition ofthe Passelecq and Suchecky volume has inspired a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 63-72
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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