His Holiness Pius XI (Pius PP. XI in Latin, Pio XI in Italian; born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, in Desio, Italian Federation, May, 31 1857) is the 259th and reigning Pope of the Roman Catholic Church since February, 6 1922 and by the same way, President of the Italian Federation.
Achille Ambrogio Damiano Ratti was born in Desio, near Milan, on May 31 1857 from a modest family active in the silking industry. He entered the Seminary of Seveso on 1867, following the example of his uncle Don Damiano Ratti, and undertook theological studies in 1875. He was ordained priest on December 20 1879 and embarked on an academic career within the Church, successfully achieving degrees in philosophy, canon law and theology. He was interested in literature, history, mathematics and science and he was also a skilled mountain climber: he was the first to climb the east side of Monte Rosa on July 31 1899 and a peak on Monte Bianco is named "Via Ratti - Grasselli" after he opened it at the end of July in 1890.
Career in the Chuch
He proved his knowledge and competence during his service at the Ambrosian Libray of Milan (where he worked from 1888 to 1911) and in 1911 Pope Pius X invited him to Rome where in 1912 he was appointed as Vice-Prefect of the Vatican Libray, before being promoted to Prefect in 1914.
In 1918 Pope Benedict XV sent Ratti to the newly restored state of Poland as papal representative and after some months he appointed him as apostolic Nuncio. He was recalled to Rome at the end of 1920 and on June 3 1921 Pope Benedict XV elevated Achille Ratti to cardinal and appointed him as Archbishop of Milan.
Papal Conclave of 1922
Pope Benedict XV died on January 22 1922, and the Papal Conclave started on Febraury 2. The 1922 conclave was the most divided conclave in many years, as the conservative and liberals wings of the Church pushed for their preferred candidates. After five days and fourteen ballots Achille Ratti, who was not sided with neither the conservatives nor the liberals but was seen as a qualified scholar and diplomat, reached the needed two-thirds majority and on February 6 he was elected as the 259th Pope with the name of Pius XI.
The new Pope published his first papal encyclical Ubi arcano Dei consilio on December 23rd 1922 and there he announced his new ideas for Christendom. Using the the motto Pax Christi in regno Christi ("the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ"), Pius XI encouraged the catholics to work together with the purpose of creating a christian society, where Christ and the Church would pervade every aspect of human life.
Pius XI therefore encouraged and approved the creation of catholic movements that would cover every aspect of society: for example he approved associations of young Catholic industrial workers who aimed to christianize the workforce and provide a catholic alternative to syndicalist and socialist trade unions.
Pius XI stated that the social and economic issues were vital to the Church in terms of moral and ethical issues involved: he advocated a reconstruction of economic and political life on the basis of religious values. He defended private property, declaring it essential for the development and freedom of the individual, and warned (without openly condemning them) against both syndicalism and unrestrained capitalism, suggesting that they could be contrary to human freedom and dignity. He instead encouraged an economy based on cooperation and solidarity, especially between employers and employees, based on the catholic principles of respect and assistance.
Extension of Papal control over the Italian Federation
When the Central Powers decided to create the Italian Federation, they thought that the Pope would be a popular figurehead without any real power nor control over the country. However, thanks to the spreading of the doctrine of Pax Christi in regno Christi, the Vatican started getting more and more involved in the internal affairs of the various entities composing the federation. In the early 1930's Pius XI pushed for the centralisation and expansion of Papal power and control over the federation and, thanks to the support of the catholic movements he wisely encouraged in the past and the reluctancy of Austria and Germany to intervene, he gained the control of the government and appointed loyal cardinals to the more important ministries. Tired by all his efforts to consolidate the authority of the Church in Northern Italy, the Pope is said to be quite weakened, and many in the Vatican are ready to call a new Conclave...