Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, Pope Pius XII has been in the news in recent years. He has been dubbed Hitler’s Pope for looking the other way during the Holocaust. Jewish groups protested honoring him and liberal, anti-Catholic media (e.g. New York Times) jumped on the story. Once again those evil Catholics have been exposed for protecting their own, wanting to make them Saints, when in fact they were the worst anti-semites on the planet.
Except it is not true. The facts are indeed exactly the opposite. Thanks to Father Longenecker for covering this. Don’t expect the liberal, anti-Catholic media to give it much coverage now that the facts conclusively contradict their attacks. Point of irony: the New York Times repeatedly praised the pope’s work throughout the pre-war and war period. Apparently they were not so anti-Catholic back then.
Pacelli had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf as early as 1925 and told fellow diplomats that Hitler was “obsessed” and a “new manifestation” of the Anti-Christ. As papal nuncio in Germany, he drove policy on the Nazis, criticizing them 40 times before 1929. As secretary, he did sign an agreement with Hitler’s Germany in 1933 but told the British he had to do so or it would mean the “virtual elimination of the Catholic Church” in Germany. Using it in 1934, he was able to protest the Nazis’ closing some 200 Catholic publications, taking over Church schools and forcing Catholics to join the Hitler Youth. He also lodged 60 protests of Jewish cases.
In 1935, he explained to 325,000 Lourdes pilgrims that the “church will never come to terms with Nazis as long as they persist in their racial philosophy.” Throughout 1936 and thereafter, his Vatican Radio broadcast against these racial laws. Following the encyclical, on Jan. 9, 1939, Pacelli told the world’s archbishops that their governments should accept Jews trying to escape Germany, and the next day sent the same order to the American cardinals. By March, he was pope.
His first encyclical defines human nature as “neither gentile nor Jew,” but universal. On Oct. 28, 1939, the New York Times explained it as: “Pope condemns dictators, treaty violators, racism.” Its Jan. 23, 1940, leading item was, “Vatican denounces atrocities in Poland; Germans called even worse than Russians.” On March 11, 1940, Pius confronted German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, which the Times headlined three days later as, “Pope is emphatic about just peace: Jewish rights defended.” After the fall of France in 1940, Pius sent a secret letter telling bishops to help those suffering from racism, reminding them racism is “incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
In its Dec. 25, 1941, editorial, the New York Times applauded the pope for placing “himself squarely against Hitlerism,” upset that “the voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas.”
In the face of this overwhelming record, how is it possible so many believe the opposite? Except for Nazi and communist propaganda, the sources are one play by Rolf Hochhuth, The Deputy, and John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope. Despite the fact that 12 volumes of unrefuted material were produced by four Jesuit historians rebutting the play, the literary set loved it. They preferred the art to the facts and ignored that Mr. Hochhuth was in the Hitler Youth, trained in its virulent anti-clericalism.
Mr. Cornwell said he was convinced of the pope’s innocence before he searched “long-buried Vatican files,” when his eyes were opened. In fact, he did not see any archival documents dated after 1922 – before Hitler had any political significance whatsoever. He admitted in 1989 that he was a “lapsed Catholic for more than 20 years,” and an ex-seminarian who enjoyed testing the faith of his fellow students.
The charge against Pius XII is slander against a good man and nothing more. After the “final solution” leaked out, the New York Times headlined, on Aug. 6, 1942: “Pope is said to plead for Jews listed for removal from France.” It was Israeli consul to Italy Rabbi Pinchas Lapide who researched Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and reported that Pope Pius XII led efforts to save 860,000 Jews, “more than all other churches, religious institutions and rescue organizations put together.” What motivates those who take the Times as holy writ and ignore these facts?
Read the whole article at the CERC (reprinted from the Washington Times): Hitler’s Pope?
Another quick, good read is this piece from the Telegraph: ‘Hitler’s Pope’ saved thousands of Jewish lives.