CfP: Catholicism and Anticommunism – The height of Pius XII’s pontificate

Call for papers, deadline 1 March 2023


Series of conferences and seminars 2023-2024, Fribourg-Rome-Paris


From the first condemnation of communism in the Encyclical Qui Pluribus (1846) to the excommunication decrees of 1949, 1950 and 1959, anticommunism seems to be a fundamental reflex of the Catholic Church. Its manifestations range from theology to devotional practices, through the commitments of Christian parties and trade unions. This complex and massive phenomenon has not yet been addressed by historical research in any depth. Taking advantage of the opening of the archives of the pontificate of Pius XI (1922-1939) in the early 2000s, a few monographs detail the conflicting relationship between Catholicism and communism over a long period, going beyond the local or national perspective (Chenaux 2009, reedited 2021; Pettinaroli 2015; Chamedes 2019). While studies have been carried out on crises, personalities or movements (McNamara 2005; Fejérdy 2008; Roulin 2010; Cœuré 2014), many spaces and actors still await to be studied.

Catholic anticommunism needs to be looked at with a fresh look after the opening of the archives of the pontificate of Pius XII (1939-1958). As part of the ANR GLOBALVAT project (2022-2025, École française de Rome-Laboratoire de recherches historiques Rhône Alpes) and developed through a partnership with the University of Fribourg and the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, this series of colloquia and seminars aims to stimulate research in these newly available archives. The two decades 1940 and 1950 are pivotal: the Roman Magisterium took important positions in a context where important Catholic communities experienced a communist system for the first time, while former Catholic parties were absorbed into Christian Democrat movements in the West and were confronted with the parties of the left on a daily basis.

The series addresses the relationship between Catholicism and anticommunism in a broad geographical, thematic and chronological perspective. Far from being limited to Europe, it will welcome contributions from other continents. The cycle will consider not only Catholic actors, clergy and laity,  but also other religious denominations, as well as initiatives either seeking to counter communism or to reconcile, if not merge, with it. In light of the new Cold War Studies, it will focus not only on political aspects, but also on visual cultures, the role of 'small' states and non-governmental organisations. It will consider the cultural networks and institutions that helped shape societies and politics in the Cold War era. Finally, in terms of chronology, other periods may be addressed: the aim is to place this pontificate in the long term, from the 19th century to the end of the Cold War, and even beyond.

The series will therefore be organised along broad thematic lines, ranging from diplomatic relations to doctrinal issues, including the relationship to the media, political parties, trade unions, education, missions, the arts, other denominations and decolonisation. Preference will be given to unpublished contributions, based on new sources.

Submission guidelines

Proposals (3,000 characters + 1,000 biography) must be sent to: ; ;

by 1 March 2023

Replies and proposals for distribution in the series communicated in April 2023.

Languages English, French, Italian, German or Spanish.

Hand-out in English preferred for presentations in German and Spanish.

Scientific board

Philippe Chenaux (Univ. du Latran), Sophie Cœuré (Université de Paris Diderot), Magali Della Sudda (CNRS), Mario Del Pero (Sciences Po Paris), Justine Faure (Univ. de Lille), András Fejérdy (Pázmány Péter Univ.), Marc Lazar (Sciences Po Paris), Adriano Roccucci (Univ. di Roma 3).


Fabien Archambault (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Laura Pettinaroli (École française de Rome), Stéphanie Roulin (Université de Fribourg)


Archambault Fabien, Le contrôle du ballon : les catholiques, les communistes et le football en Italie : de 1943 au tournant des années 1980, Rome, École française de Rome, 2012.

Chamedes Giuliana, A Twentieth-Century Crusade: The Vatican's Battle to remake Christian Europe, Harvard, Harvard University Press, 2019.

Chenaux Philippe, L’Église catholique et le communisme. De Lénine à Jean-Paul II, Paris, Cerf, 2009, rééd. 2021.

Chenaux Philippe et Durand Jean-Dominique, Le Saint-Siège, les églises et l’Europe : études en l’honneur de Jean-Dominique Durand = La Santa Sede, le chiese e l’Europa : studi in onore di Jean-Dominique Durand, Roma, Studium edizioni, 2019.

Cœuré Sophie, Pierre Pascal : la Russie entre christianisme et communisme, Lausanne, Les Éditions Noir sur Blanc, 2014.

Cœuré Sophie, HÄnni Adrian, Labeÿ Marion, Roulin Stéphanie, et al., Communisme et christianisme au XXe siècle, dossier spécial dans: Revue suisse d’histoire religieuse et culturelle, 115, 2021, pp. 13‑135.

Dard Olivier et Dumons Bruno (éds.), Droites et catholicisme en France et en Europe des années 1960 à nos jours, LARHRA, 2022 (Chrétiens et Sociétés. Documents et Mémoires).

Del Pero Mario et Faure Justine, Décentrer la Guerre froide, N° spécial revue Monde(s), n°18, novembre 2020.

Fejérdy András, « Aux origines de la nouvelle "Ostpolitik" du Saint-Siège. La première tentative de Jean XXIII pour reprendre le contact avec les évêques hongrois en 1959 », Archivum Historiae Pontificiae 46, 2008, pp. 389‑411.

Hrabovec Emilia, Brugnotto Giuliano, Jurčaga Peter (a cura di), Chiesa del silenzio e diplomazia pontificia 1945-1965 : Umlčana cirkev a pápežská diplomacia 1945-1965, Città del Vaticano, Libreria editrice vaticana, 2018.

Lazar Marc, Le communisme : une passion française, Paris, Perrin, 2002.

McNamara Patrick, A Catholic Cold War: Edmund A. Walsh, S.J. and the Politics of American Anticommunism, New York, Fordham Univ. Press, 2005.

Pettinaroli Laura, La politique russe du Saint-Siège, Rome, École française de Rome, 2015.

Pons Silvio et Roccucci Adriano (éds.), I diritti umani e la trasformazione delle culture politiche e cristiane nel tardo Novecento, Roma, Viella, 2021.

Roulin Stéphanie, Un credo anticommuniste. La Commission Pro Deo de l'Entente internationale anticommuniste ou la dimension religieuse d'un combat politique (1924-1945), Lausanne, Antipodes, 2010.

Weir Todd H, “A European Culture War in the Twentieth Century ? Anti-Catholicism and Anti-Bolshevism between Moscow, Berlin, and the Vatican 1922 to 1933: A Twentieth-Century European Culture War ?”, in: Journal of religious history, 2015 (39-2), pp. 280-306.