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Vatican Secret Diplomacy: Joseph P. Hurley and Pope Pius XII. Charles R. Gallagher, S.J. Yale University Press. [pounds sterling]25.00. xi + 283 pages. ISBN 978-0-300-12134-6.

Joseph Hurley was the Roman Catholic Bishop of Saint Augustine in Florida, and during his diplomatic career, he conversed with an emperor, two popes, a prime minister and a communist leader. He also corresponded confidentially with three US presidents.

In this very readable account of Bishop Hurley's life, Charles Gallagher points to Hurley's rather conservative Catholicism which made him a strong American patriot, if not an outright chauvinist. As an official diplomat for the Holy See from 1927-1940, he saw Pope Pius XII (who became Pope in 1939) as too concerned with Communism and insufficiently worried about Nazism. Before going to Rome, he had spent time in India and Japan, and although he opposed the raucous support for Fascism by Radio's Father Coughlin, he stressed Coughlin's anti-Communism rather than the latter's anti-Semitism. He became increasingly supportive of American foreign policy and the Allied cause and was personally thanked by Roosevelt for supporting the American Neutrality Act through the Vatican's newspaper Osservatore Romano.

The Bishop was critical of Pope Pius XII: in Hurley's view Pius XII was far too conciliatory towards the Nazis and Hurley was 'banished' to Saint Augustine a year later. From there he cultivated his Washington contacts and Sumner Welles, Undersecretary of State, sent Hurley state secrets to help him win support from Catholic public opinion which tended to be isolationist. However the Bishop became more and more critical of US foreign policy in the Cold War period when he was appointed acting chief of the Apostolic Nunciature in Belgrade. He never admitted Catholic Croatian complicity in the Utasha reign of terror and asked if Tito (also a Catholic) was a Ukrainian Jew? One should add that he had previously condemned anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.

Bishop Hurley campaigned vigorously for the release of Archbishop Stepheniac of Zagreb who was imprisoned ostensibly for collaborating with Utasha when Croatia had become a puppet state during the Nazi period. He became increasingly anti-Communist and conservative and condemned US support for Tito when the latter was expelled by Stalin from the Cominform. Increasingly out of sympathy with the Vatican, which favoured a conditional release of Archbishop Stephinac, Hurley was recalled to Rome in 1950 and it was through Hurley's pressure that a medical specialist from the USA attended Stepheniac. But the Bishop was fast losing influence. He praised McCarthy for awakening the nation 'to the threat of communism' and he was instrumental in having Mikoyan's visit to Florida in 1957 cancelled. He was particularly hostile to liberal theologians such Hans Kung and unhelpful to Martin Luther King. He died an embittered reactionary.

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Title Annotation:Vatican Secret Diplomacy: Joseph P. Hurley and Pope Pius XII
Author:Hoffman, John
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2009

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