Perhaps I can be of a little help. I am thinking of the controversy regarding Pope Pius XII and your article “Ad Defends Pius XII on ‘Nazi’ Charges” (April 15–21). People become obsessed when they have little information to go by. Misinformation will condemn an honest man; bigotry and ignorance crucified even Christ.
What people forget is that, were Pope Pius XII to condemn Nazism, in addition to Hitler, he would have had to denounce also the British who had the mandate over Palestine which — despite the Balfour Declaration — kept the doors closed to the Jews. If the Allies were such fine people, why did they not open their doors to Jewish migration? Yet millions of Jews made it to Palestine with the help of the National Socialist Party in Germany (the Nazis).
I was a witness. I remember the boatloads of Jewish refugees fleeing Europe aboard Nazi ships, flying the Swastika, to Palestine. Whom would Pope Pius XII have to have condemned or denounced at that time?
And what did America do when Germany tried to relocate boats full of Jewish refugees to Brazil, a nation willing to receive them, as the Vatican had paid for their passage? America cited the Monroe Doctrine, thereby depriving them entrance to South America.
Whom should the Pope have spoken out against then?
Is it not clear that, in speaking out against the evil of one, Pope Pius XII would also have denounced the evil of American racism? And that of others?
As one who lived in Italy during that terrible time, I still remember the many Jewish people who made their way through Italy, where they were sheltered. As an intake worker for displaced persons, I interviewed many Jewish refugees, some released during the General Amnesty in 1944. Nearly all were trying to reach the ancient homeland in then Palestine. Who did more than Pope Pius XII for the Jewish people at that time? Who, while helping them, also tried to keep peace to save the world?
And finally, had the German army in North Africa, then nearing Alexandria, been able to reach and free Palestine in 1942 — before the Americans landed at their rear — the Jews of Europe would all have been able to return to their homeland (Israel) instead of being returned to those territories in Eastern Europe and, eventually, the Holocaust.
Do not blame Pope Pius XII, do not blame Germany: The entire world was blinded by malice. Pope Pius was a beacon, a savior. Those who condemn him do not know what they are saying.
GIOIA DE ARCHANGELIS
Morrisonville, New York