Some Jewish organizations continue to state that the Catholic Church did not condemn Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror.
As I pointed out in my own books during the past decade, the charge doesn’t jibe with the record. Why would German leaders have said what they said about Pius XII if he wasn’t a thorn in their side? “The Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order,” said the Nazis, “and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.”
When Pius XII learned about the
Nazi roundup on Oct. 16, 1943, he immediately sent an official, personal
protest through the papal Secretary of State Cardinal Luigi Maglione
to German Ambassador Ernst von Weizsäcker. This
protest was published in the
The Pope provided false
identification papers to potential victims. He ordered
How long will honest scholars condone statements by those who defame Pope Pius XII?
Today, even hardened detractors of Pius XII generally consider that, throughout the Second World War, the Holy Father was hailed as a towering moral hero in the face of cataclysmic terror: a man solicitous on behalf of Jews and Gentiles alike who worked tirelessly for peace. Through diplomacy, personal contact with heads of state, and the underground railroad, he protected the Jews and other victims of the Nazis in a way that no other leader with mighty war weapons could provide. His charity and love prevailed.
When Cardinal Eugenio
Pacelli was elected to the papacy and became Pius XII
March 2, 1939, Jewish newspapers in the
After the Allies liberated
In the summer of 1945, 20,000
Jewish refugees from
Pius XII was sympathetic to
Zionism and the creation of a Jewish state, both before and after he became
Pope. On July 30, 1944, Pius XII told the newly-appointed high commissioner for
One wonders why The New York Times heralds books that cast Pope Pius as a racist and hypocrite. Compare New York Times book reviews, editorials and news articles that question Pope Pius’ respected reputation with Times articles and editorials that praised Pius’ efforts on behalf of the Jews. Stated a 1943 editorial: “This Christmas more than ever, the Pope is a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent.”
In 1985, Cardinal Pietro Palazzini was honored by
The Pope’s peace efforts, his denunciation of Nazism, his defense of the Jewish people, have been clearly documented. Recently Rabbi David Dalin stated that “to deny the legitimacy of the collective gratitude of Jews to Pius XII is tantamount to denying their memory and experience of the Holocaust itself, as well as to denying the credibility of their personal testimony and judgment about the Pope’s role in rescuing hundreds of thousands of Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis.”
Among countless other Jewish authorities, Pius XII received praise from Moshe Sharett, Israeli Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, and Pinchas Lapide.
Testimonials of survivors of the Holocaust also make it perfectly clear that the Pope was not anti-Semitic or indifferent to the fate of the Jews and that he did everything possible to help them.
In a letter to me, dated June 18, 1997, historian and Holocaust survivor, Michael Tagliacozzo, clearly expressed his sentiments: “Pacelli was the only one who intervened to impede the deportation of Jews on Oct. 16, 1943, and he did very much to hide and save thousands of us. It was no small matter that he ordered the opening of cloistered convents. Without him, many of our own would not be alive.”
Again, Aug. 8, 2004, Tagliacozzo reiterated his convictions: “Even if gratitude was expressed directly to the Institutions who protected them, the merit goes to Pope Pacelli who, on Oct. 16, 1943, gave orders to open the doors of the parishes, convents and monasteries to save the Jews from deportation.”
Several years ago in an interview,
Sir Martin Gilbert, perhaps the foremost contemporary Jewish historian, noted
that “Christians were among the first victims of the Nazis and that the
Churches took a very powerful stand.” After years of research that began in
1959, Gilbert wrote Never Again: The History of the Holocaust that contains an
extraordinary chapter on Pius XII’s humanitarianism.
Here, Gilbert thanks the
Personally and through his representatives, Pius XII employed all the means at his disposal to save Jews and other refugees during World War II. As a moral leader and a diplomat forced to limit his words, he privately took action and, despite insurmountable obstacles, saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from the gas chambers. The Pope was loved and respected. Of those mourning his death in 1958, Jews — who credited Pius XII with being one of their greatest defenders and benefactors in their hour of greatest need — stood in the forefront.
Religious Teachers Fillipini
Sister Margherita Marchione, Ph.D., has written more than 50 books.
She lectures widely
in North America and