A Female Pope?


La Popessa.  Many are not too familiar with this name.  But it is quite possibly that this name is of incredibly great historical value in regards to the fall of the Third Reich and beyond.  She served Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII, for 41 of her 67 years serving the Catholic Church. After becoming a Sister of the Holy Cross, Mother Pascalina Lehnert began her epic odyssey.


A young Sister Pascalina Lehnart would not know the impact she would provide over the Church and the future Pope Pius XII

In 1917, Father Eugenio Pacelli was wounded by Communist Red Brigade members rioting in Munich.  A young nun, who had recently joined the Nunciature of Munich, stepped forward to administer to his wounds.  After doing this, Pacelli asked for her name and position.  She answered “my name is Pascalina Lehnart and I am with the Sisters of the Holy Cross.”  Impressed by her mannerisms and her dedication to duty at that time, when Sister Lehnart and two other nuns were assigned to assist now Pacelli, who had become the Vatican’s Nuncio (Ambassador) to Munich, with housekeeping details, Pacelli remembered what the young Sister Lehnart had done and almost immediately elevated her to the position of personal assistant, a decision that could and would change history for quite a long time.

At the age of 24 years, as a housekeeper and secretary to Pacelli, her influence was further elevated by another serious event.  It was in Munich in 1919 when a short-lived, 27 days long, Leninist republic known as the Bavarian Soviet Republic was formed and which the anti-Protestant Weimar Republic captured it.  However, help was needed in dismantling Leninist influence after wiping out over 700 men and women involved in fighting for the short-lived republic, which gave the Bavarian territories to the Weimar Republic.  It also at this time that Pacelli fought the Munich occult group, The Thule Society, which ran a failed coup against the short-lived Bavarian Republic, and led to his and Sister Lehnart’s meeting with a charismatic ex-German corporal who had served in the Bavarian Army during World War I, Adolf Hitler.

Russian Delegates

Georgy Chicherin and Soviet delegates for 1920. This group includes five women with political status, which was against the social norm at that time. This new group of diplomatic stature gave Pacelli a new look of women in politics and likely fueled the strong bonding of the future Pope and Sister Lehnart.

Keeping with Pope Benedict XV’s wish that Pacelli work closely in getting Catholic influence back into Germany, which had weakened since the German-inspired Sack of Rome by Italian nationalists in 1870 and earned all Popes afterwards the nickname “Prisoner in the Vatican” , the Nuncio opened dialogue with the Soviet Foreign Minister Georgy Chicherin, who was homosexual, and his staff, many of whom were women and very common folk.  In dealing with Minister Chicherin on matters of the Church and with Weimar Foreign Minister Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau on German Catholic relations and influence with the Vatican, one wonders how working with such a diverse group of people influenced Pacelli’s views of women in advisory positions, specifically Pascalina Lehnart, also known in later time as “La Popessa”.


Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII

After Pacelli, who was by now Nuncio of Berlin and basically all of Germany, advised the Vatican in 1923 on his findings of Soviet and German Church relations, the Vatican, now led by Pope Pius XI, did not agree with these findings and set up a clandestine hierarchy of bishops and priests with expressed interest of keeping the Roman Catholic Church alive in the Soviet Union.  Three years later, Michele d’Herbigny, a prominent French Jesuit whom Pacelli secretly ordained as Titular Bishop of the see of Ilium, was sent to carry out this mission for the Vatican.   Being a Titular Bishop, d’Herbigny was the leader of a Roman Catholic diocese which had no longer any existence, therefore he was a hired gun sent to resurrect a Catholic presence in the new Soviet Union, where priests and Catholic Bishops were persecuted, expelled and sometimes executed.

It was during this time that Sister Lehnart started a steady climb of influence with the future Pope, going on private visits with foreign dignitaries on behalf on the Nuncio, prepping him on her findings.  Many of these visits consisted of negotiations with Soviet and Weimar officials and as I typed earlier, a strong bond was developing between Sister Lehnart and the Nuncio of Munich and future Pope regarding females in advisory posts, something that was frowned upon by most of society at that point in time.

It was about this time Adolf Hitler was slowly building his influence in the dissatisfied Weimar Republic.  Knowing the gravity of the looming threat of Communism, the Vatican and Nuncio sought to use Hitler’s National Socialist Worker’s Party to undermine, harass and remove Left-leaning political parties, especially Communists. Sister Lehnart would be in charge of negotiating with Hitler over funding of his political party to achieve a Communist exit from the German political sphere.  In the 1928 election, Hitler’s party only won 12 seats.  Two years, however, they suddenly won 107 seats and had second most members in the German Parliament.  The Reichstag was changing fast and the Vatican was pleased up to this time, only to soon regret it.

It was in 1929 that the Vatican, under the guidance of the future Pope, with whom Mother Lehnart had influence in certain policy-making decisions, and his brother, the prominent Papal lawyer Francesco Pacelli, successfully convinced the godless Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini to give them back some sovereign territories through the Lateran Treaty.  The areas which were returned to the Papacy not only included the Vatican City, but also a small portion of areas which were once under Papal control during the existence of the Papal States.   These areas would be very crucial to the Vatican in the coming rematch between Germany and the Free World.


Joe Kennedy, pictured on the far left, is the patriarch of the Kennedy clan and ever the opportunist to establish an influx of Irish Catholics in the New England political scene. Here he meets with Cardinal Pacelli during the future Pope’s visit to The United States in 1936.

It was soon afterward that the Nuncio and future Pope was recalled to Rome to become Cardinal Secretary of State, and with him would come La Popessa. It was at this time that Sister Lehnart truly gained power and earned her moniker.  Traveling the world with now Cardinal Pacelli, she controlled his daily meetings, giving access to the Cardinal by some officials while blocking access of others.  During the next ten years, Sister Lehnart and Cardinal Pacelli worked in concert through the Vatican to strengthen Papal influence throughout the world, creating an understanding and a need to let people know about the Communist ideals threatening world stability.  On the Cardinal’s visit to the United States, Sister Lehnart secretly helped broker meetings with Joe Kennedy and people close to President Franklin Roosevelt.  Through these efforts, an offer was made to silence influential Catholic radio preacher Father Charles Coughlin, a strong, anti Semitic critic of President Roosevelt and whose radio sermons resembled Nazi propaganda, in return for a stronger American stance towards Communism while recognizing the Vatican as a sovereign state with an American diplomatic representative.

Not long after returning to the Vatican, the decision to back Hitler in 1929 was now starting to haunt the Vatican eight years later.  Now Mother Pascalina Lehnart, La Popessa truly came into her own.  While the Pope was the official head of the Church, Cardinal Pacelli was now running most the operation at the Vatican.  On February 10, 1939,  Pope Pius XI died. While the Papal Conclave to announce the new Pope had gathered, La Popessa was locked in the same cell as Cardinal Pacelli, as all Cardinals are required to do before the election of the new Pope is announced, further enhancing La Popessa’s influence in the Vatican, keeping her out of the way of the Cardinals voting for the new Pope.  On March 2, 1939, Cardinal Pacelli was elected Pope Pius XII.  Now was La Popessa’s true time to shine.


The Two Stooges, Mussolini and Hitler, overconfident and arrogant, saw themselves as the saviors of their countries and the entire world, only to see this false prophecy crumble to ashes.

While Pope Pius XII was the de jure Pope and the face of the Vatican,  Mother Pascalina worked feverishly behind the scenes to alert the outside world that Hitler had not met the Vatican’s expectations, going as far as condemning Hitler’s ethnic cleansing.   While many Catholics had long sought to convert Jews with things such as the controversial Good Friday Prayer, most Catholics had no idea what heinous atrocities Hitler was doing to the Jews in Europe and how the unpopularity of Jewish intellectuals who fueled unpopular ideas such Communism was working to his advantage to achieve greater influence in Germany than what the Vatican could.  As the American 5th Army and the British 8th Army were progressing up the Boot of Italy, the thought of Hitler wanting to sack Rome and the Vatican out of desperation to weaken morale amongst Catholic Italy, which had recently surrender to the allies, was now clear.


Pascalina Lehnart, now known as Mother Pascalina, starts to earn her moniker as “La Popessa” by noticing how Hitler and the Fascist regimes in the heart of Catholic Europe did not meet the expectations that the Vatican had hoped for when the Holy See was aiding their cause as far back as the 1920’s.

Mother Pascalina, being the nun who was in charge of the Vatican household, would now make the decision that would save the lives of 15,000 Jews by issuing false identification papers stating that these Jews were Catholic and thus were allowed into the Vatican.  She also advised Pope Pius XII in trying to increase the Papal Guard from 575 to 4,000 to protect the Vatican and the nearby Jewish ghetto, along with Papal properties which the Pope had help bring back to Vatican control in 1929.  These properties, by the end of World War II, housed over 200,000 Jewish refugees and in this regard, the Vatican was actually helped by German Wehrmacht officers of Catholic faith.  As allied armies fought a retreating German Army, the Pope and staff refused to relocation, instead staying with and bringing in as many Jews as possible.  By 1944, the tide had turned and Southern Italy, which had once brought Mussolini to power, was now helping the Allied war efforts.  It was now that Pope Pius XII turned to Mother Pascalina to head up relief organizations for Italians and, to a greater extent, Catholic throughout Europe.  La Popessa now headed the Pontifical Relief Committee, overseeing the greatest aid program in the history of the Church, eventually housing 200,000 Jews throughout the Holy City.  She also head organized and led the Maggazino, a private papal charity office which employed up to 40 people.  Through these groups, La Popessa and the Vatican relief efforts which she managed continued until just after Pope Pius XII died on October 9, 1958.

Given a two day notice to leave the Vatican minutes after the internment of Pius XII, Mother Lehnart would not maintain the influence she once had, but in reading memoirs and various archives, it seems she was lifted of certain burdens that could have developed the way personal burdens are developed after world changing events.  The following year, Mother Pascalina was sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, serving the Church and students for ten years until 1969, when she was then given her last assignment, running the Casa Pastor Angelicus, a residential home for elderly Catholics some 134 miles north of Rome.


Now head of Casa Pastor Angelica, and without the influence she once had, Mother Pascalina meets with John Paul II. Like La Popessa, John Paul II knew the consequences of the Vatican’s mistakes in supporting anti-Jewish dictators like Hitler.  One example is how the papacy  saw the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel in 1993.

Some think that women and power don’t mix.  Some think that they do. However, some are willing to compromise to get things done and to also survive in times of great crisis. It takes extraordinary valor and courage to make these difficult, life-or-death decisions, compromising one’s principals of thought.  Among the Catholics at the time, nuns represented the gender role of house-mothers, held down to do menial tasks of nursery, cooking and teaching, whilst priests benefited with a rising hierarchy and the potential to become the Pope.  Mother Pascalina, “La Popessa,” broke molds in a great crisis for the Church and Vatican, benefiting from a more open-minded Nuncio, Cardinal and Pope, Eugenio Pacelli.   Nowadays, with the lack of priests, her legacy of the breaking the molds lives on as nuns can achieve greater tasks and assist in church services, as there is a shortage at hand and priests need more assistance in carrying the mass and work which holds the church together. Some people wonder how our world react to future women leader as compared with past women leaders and the ever-so declining stay-at-home housewives who choose a path of leadership and family.  Would women such as Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel  and Hillary Clinton have been given positions of power without the knowledge and work of La Popessa?  We shall see.

Bibliography and Sources

Book: Pius XII, Hound of Hitler, Gerard Noel

Book: The Diplomats 1919-1939, Gordon Craig, Felix Gilbert

Book: His Humble Servant, Autobiographical Notes recorded by Susan Johnson

Book: La Popessa, Paul Murphy

Book: Hitler’s Pope, John Cromwell

Website: Institute of Religion and Public Life-First Things-Pope Pius XII

Website: La Popessa.com

Website: Find a Grave-Sr Pascalina Josefina Lehnert

Website: Catholic Journal- Pope Pius XII’s “Silent” War

Photos: Getty Images, Photo Buckets, Stewards Blog, History Today.com, Ambrosius007

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A Tale of Two Preachers

When I was in school, I was taught that Martin Luther King Jr.’s role model was Mahatma Gandhi.  Judging by the way he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott, many have thought he was   It turns out I was deceived.  King’s chief weapon was not civil disobedience, but rather preaching.  King’s chief inspiration was also not at all Gandhi, but his close friend Billy Graham.  The two had in fact met during the Montgomery boycott.[1]  Learning this makes me wonder what the main purpose of the boycott truly was.

Two years later in 1957, King played a vital role in a summer-long Graham crusade in New York City.  In fact, Graham even assigned two of King’s clerical compatriots Thomas Kilgore and Gardner Taylor, when the crusade began in the month of May.[1]  As the crusade progressed into July,  Graham publicly denounced segregation when he preached from the steps of Sandy Ray’s Cornerstone Baptist Church and called for anti-segregation legislation; Ray was an African American who became Martin Luther King Sr.’s closest friend when they both attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.[2]  On July 18, Graham further enhanced this message when he invited King to speak onstage during an event at Madison Square Garden.[1]  As Rick Blaine famously claimed at the end of Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

The preachers in action

A beginning of a beautiful friendship

Though groups like the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC) and had participated in actions such as sit-ins and Freedom Rides, the amount of civil disobedience which Dr King’s organization the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) participated in did not even escalate until the Kennedy Administration.  The Albany Movement, which was centered in Albany, Georgia and took place soon after the Freedom Rides ended in 1961, was widely acknowledged as the SCLC’s first major nonviolent campaign for civil rights and was the prototype for the event which pressured President Kennedy to publicly, though not privately, push for Civil Rights, the Birmingham Children’s Crusade.  However, the Albany Movement was organized by SNCC. Though the SCLC had organized the infamous Birmingham Children’s Crusade where Birmingham police chief Eugene “Bull” Connor ordered his police to unleash powerful water hoses and attack dogs against the children protesting segregation in the city, it was because Dr King had assigned an unruly Freedom Rider named James Bevel to do so.  Dr King was clearly not at all a man of civil disobedience, but rather a man of Protestant faith who was loyal to the name his father gave him and sought to advance civil rights by weakening Kennedy’s Catholicism.

Contrary to what many think, King declined to endorse either Kennedy or Nixon during the 1960 election. [3] Despite early concerns, the FBI did not regard King as a promoter of Communist propaganda until 1962, a time when they were supervised by none other than US Attorney General Robert Kennedy.[4]   After all, it is no surprise why Michael King Sr. decided unofficially change his and his son’s name to Martin Luther in 1934.

King Sr. was an influential Baptist preacher who had was dubbed “the best paid Negro minister” in Atlanta and enough influence to be join ten other pastors in 1934 for a trip to the Holy Land and Europe, which included a visit to Berlin, Germany, where the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress was being held, despite the fact that the country was now ruled by esteemed white supremacist Adolf Hitler.  It was here that King Sr. learned about German Protestant reformer Martin Luther and his Ninety-Five Theses [5] Despite the fact the conference also had 30 black pastors, sympathy from many at the convention for Nazi Germany was a very troubling experience for King Sr.[6]  Over time, King Sr. grew closer and closer to the ideas of Luther and by 1957, the names of both the father and son were legally changed from Michael to Martin Luther.[6]

Billy Graham, a Southern Democrat who supported Nixon and was especially close to Kennedy’s Vice President Lyndon Johnson, had dedicated his life to eliminating the two things which he felt were obstructing progress in the South: Segregation and Communism.  His method of enhancing civil rights came from using the Cold War consensus to put both anti-Communist segregationists and civil rights activists in the same room.

Despite Graham’s Southern upbringing, Graham experienced a major case of enlightenment at Bob Jones University.  While at Bob Jones University, Graham had become dissatisfied with the school’s fundamentalist interpretation of the bible.[7}  He soon decided to quit the University after just one semester and went to Tampa, Florida to enroll at the Florida Bible Institute.[7]  Despite his interest for preaching the word on Jesus, Graham decided to also study anthropology and went to Wheaton College, a small, conservative liberal arts school west of Chicago, in 1940, just one year after he was formally ordained as a Southern Baptist minister.[7]  At Wheaton, Graham would have African American socials peers for the first time in his life and became relatively progressive for someone who was raised in a white, southern environment.[8][9]





  1. http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_graham_william_franklin_1918/

2. http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_ray_sandy_frederick_1898_1979.1.html

3. http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_kennedy_john_fitzgerald_1917_1963/index.html

4. http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_federal_bureau_of_investigation_fbi/index.html

5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/17/martin-luther-king-jr-name_n_6481554.html

6. http://www.german-way.com/notable-people/featured-bios/martin-luther-king-jr-in-berlin/

7. http://www.wheaton.edu/ISAE/Hall-of-Biography/Billy-Graham

8. http://www.wheaton.edu/Media-Center/Wheaton-Magazine/Winter-2013/Feature-Articles/Billy

9. https://books.google.com/books?id=ICb6I8wWrMgC&pg=PA33&lpg=PA33&dq=wheaton+college+billy+graham+african+american+friends&source=bl&ots=t6Y-tPzbgt&sig=YBd7WF8_TdhPbo4B5QCSYSqRXpc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiuqZCmusHPAhUi3YMKHTyDBy84ChDoAQg9MAY#v=onepage&q=wheaton%20college%20billy%20graham%20african%20american%20friends&f=false

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The Sacrificial Lamb and The Needed President


While many consider the Kennedy Assassination to be a tragedy, I consider it to be both a tragedy and evidence of God.  It is true that John F. Kennedy came from a Catholic family which was discriminated from joining elitist clubs that were limited to blue bloods-better known as Boston Brahmins- and was willing to embrace the idea of Civil Rights on a limited basis.  However, he was also reluctant to lose the Southern vote and only proposed the Civil Rights Act in June of 1963 because he felt the violence which was shown during the Birmingham protests would’ve created more political damage which already stemmed from his failures to contain Fidel Castro.  The manner which he proposed the law, which would’ve allowed the Attorney General to strongly enforce desegregation, also caught him off guard, as the racism which still persisted couldn’t guarantee this for small businesses.  Lyndon Johnson, on the other hand, was a greater champion of Civil Rights who had grown up in poverty and had worked with a group of people who are still one of the biggest racial minorities in Texas to this day, Mexican immigrants.  Unlike Kennedy, Johnson’s time in the Senate also made him an accomplished politician.

LBJ had served as Senate Majority leader and knew how to outmaneuver the Southern Bloc leader who lead the filibuster of the act, Richard Russell [1]. Johnson also sought to use Civil Rights to advance his War on Poverty, which was popular even among poor white Southern segregationists.  With the help of Illinois Republican Senator Everett Dirksen and Senate Majority Whip Hubert Humphrey, Johnson was able to defeat the Southern Bloc by pushing an altered version of Kennedy’s mismanaged proposal of the law.   Dirksen presented a compromise which gave state and local governments more power to enforce desegregation of private business and only allowed federal intervention on this matter if it were proven that state and local governments were too exhausted to comply [2].  On May 26, Humphrey allowed Dirksen to introduce this compromise bill and the tough challenge of seeing the law pass in the Senate was accomplished on June 19.  The law then easily passed the House of Representatives on June 2 and was signed into law by LBJ on the very same day.

Many SNCC and SDS activists have long argued that the violence which showed during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Campaign and the President’s decision to allow delegates from Mississippi’s segregated Democrat party to represent the 1964 Democratic National Convention resulted in the President caving into pressure from the Selma campaign and only push for voting rights out of fear for his political future.  However, a taped telephone conversion between Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. on January 15, 1965 proves otherwise[3].  As revealed in this conversation, Johnson wanted MLK to push the voting rights campaign so it would go beyond just voting rights and advance the War on Poverty.  The President had also made clear in his 1964 State of the Union speech that the War on Poverty could only succeed as a result of teamwork from the federal, state and local government, which was also the reason why he didn’t want to risk losing support southern segregationists by allowing the SNCC’s Mississippi Freedom Democratic Freedom Party to represent Mississippi at the 1964 DNC.

Had JFK lived, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would’ve never been passed and War on Poverty measures such as Head Start, Food Stamps, Medicare and Medicaid would have never been passed either.  Many myths and Tall Tales have long persisted about what John Kennedy and his brother Robert had done for the Civil Rights Movement.  In fact, it wasn’t until February of 1962, just one year into the Kennedy Administration, when the FBI decided to take a good look into the Martin Luther King and the SCLC.[4]  Around this time, King was attempting to build on the success of the Freedom Rides with the Albany Movement.  However, US Attorney General Robert Kennedy at this time allowed the FBI- which he supervised- to investigate King’s close advisor Stanley Levinson.[4]  In October of 1963- four months after the Birmingham campaign pressured JFK to push for Civil Rights and just one month before JFK was assassinated- Robert showed even greater disregard for Civil Rights by allowing the FBI to wiretap King and other SCLC members.[4]

Despite mentioning the issues of poverty and civil rights his ”New Frontier” speech at the the 1960 Democratic National Convention, The Kennedy Presidential agenda was not at all focused on the broad picture of Civil Rights.  He had voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1957 while in the Senate and later sent Robert to bailed King out of jail following an arrest at an Atlanta sit-in in 1960, but King declined to endorse the Kennedy campaign.[6] In fact, the person who would bail King out of during the Kennedy Administration was no longer the Kennedys, but rather America’s Pastor and King’s close friend Billy Graham.[7]  The best effort by the Kennedy Administration at pushing for Civil Rights occurred in 1962, when President Kennedy sent federal troops to Oxford, Mississippi, to quell riots at the University of Mississippi following its integration by James Meredith and created the Voter Education Project (VEP).[6]   JFK, however, put little effort into funding VEP and even threatened to expel the SCLC from VEP in 1963.[6]   Hence, Kennedy was the Sacrificial Lamb and Johnson was the needed President


2. [http://www.wiu.edu/cas/history/wihr/pdfs/MilesWIHRSp09.pdf]

3. [http://millercenter.org/presidentialrecordings/lbj-wh6501.04-6736]

4.ibid [http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_federal_bureau_of_investigation_fbi/]

5. [http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/theme/2179]

6. ibid [http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_kennedy_john_fitzgerald_1917_1963/index.html]

7. [http://christianteens.about.com/od/famouschristians/p/Who-Is-Billy-Graham.htm]


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I Laugh At You, You Stupid Jackass

It’s only been proven that PART of Josephus’ writing was tampered with. The fact is atheism and GOP conservatism are mental impairments that have yet to be recognized by the masses

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