VIEWS: 37 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 8/19/2011
POPE PIUS XII: ‘SILENT WITNESS’ OR NAZI SYMPATHIZER Since the name of Pope Pius XII came up for beatification a few years ago, history has taken a closer look at those years during World War II and the role of Pope Pius XII and the Vatican during that time. In October of 2000, John Cornwell wrote a very popular book called Hitler’s Pope: the Secret History of Pius XII. On the front cover, is a photograph of then Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli (then papal nuncio to Germany) leaving a government building in Berlin where 2 German soldiers stood guard. The picture is from 1929 - before Hitler even came into power in 1933. This misuse of the photograph gives us instant insight into Cornwell’s opinion on the relationship of Pope Pius XII with the Nazi regime. Cornwell states in his book that “the failure to utter a candid word about the Final Solution in progress proclaimed to the world that the Vicar of Christ was not moved to pity and anger. From this point of view he was the ideal Pope for Hitler’s unspeakable plan. He was Hitler’s pawn. He was Hitler’s Pope.” On the other hand, the Israeli consul, Pinchas E. Lapide, in his book, Three Popes and the Jews says, “Any words of Pius XII, directed against a madman like Hitler, would have brought on an even worse catastrophe... [and] accelerated the massacre of Jews and priests.” So who is right? Was Pius XII too silent? Did he aid and abet the activities of the Nazi’s by not speaking more boldly? Let’s take a closer look. In 1937, Pacelli, as Vatican secretary of state, authored the German language encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (With burning Anxiety), issued by Pope Pius XI. The encyclical, addressed to the church in Germany, criticized the Nazi regime, including the mistreatment of people because of race or nationality. In his Christmas message of 1942, as Pope Pius XII, he denounced the war in which “hundreds of thousands of people, through no fault of their own and at times only because of their nationality and race, are destined to be killed. . . .” In fact, Pius XI did much to help the Jews during the war. As many as 860,000 Jews were smuggled out of Italy with the aid of the Vatican - more Jews than even Oskar Schindler was able to save. Twelve volumes of Vatican Documents exist from the years of World War II, four of which recount the record of Jewish-Vatican relations. They include the work of the Vatican to assist victims of the war and record of correspondence with the world Jewish organizations asking for help. Jewish leaders were thankful for the readily given assistance received from the Vatican. Following the war, Pius XII was praised and thanked for his generous assistance to the persecuted Jews. In October of 1958, Pope Pius XII died following a series of strokes. Religious and political leaders alike praised him and his efforts during World War II. So what has happened to change the worldview of this great pope? Did he, in fact, not do that for which he was praised? Could he have done more to stop Hitler and his SS troops from carrying out their “final solution” to exterminate the Jews? RESOURCES IN THE PARISH LIBRARY ON THIS TOPIC Pope Pius XII: Architect for Peace by Margherita Marchione. Marchione, author of many books including Yours Is a Precious Witness about Jews and Catholics in World War II Italy, surveys the role of the “austere but politically savvy Pontiff during World War II.” Backed by impressive research, she defends Pius XII against critics like German playwright, Rolf Hochhuth, whose 1963 play “The Deputy” portrayed the pope as indifferent to the Holocaust and sparked the controversy that rages to this day, as well as author, John Cornwell, whose book Hitler’s Pope has renewed the efforts toward defamation of Pius XII. Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican by Pierre Blet, SJ. Blet shows Pius XII as a far more energetic worker for peace than previously realized. Hochhuth’s play “The Deputy” maintains that Pius XII made ineffective efforts to save European Jews from the Nazis in order to protect Church interests, while the actual records indicate otherwise. Hitler the War and the Pope by Ronald J. Rychlak. Written by a professor of Law, this book explores the background facts of Pope Pius XII and his policies during the war. He answers the critical statements against the Pope with “legal analysis and authoritative citation.” His epilogue examines and criticizes Cornwell’s book on the same topic. Pius XII: Greatness Dishonored by Michael O’Carroll. Father O’Carroll defends Pope Pius XII against critics who claim he was responsible for Jewish lives lost in the holocaust because he did not speak out publicly against Hitler. He shows that the Pope saved more Jews than all governments, public agencies, and organizations pooled together. RELATED TOPICS The Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich first published in 1941. The Scarlet and the Black – video about Msgr. Hugh O’Flaherty a priest in the Vatican involved in helping Jews escape Nazi persecution during the war. Schindler’s List – video about the efforts of Oskar Schindler to save the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. Dossier Magazine, Jan.-Feb., 2001 on Pope Pius XII. Includes articles entitled, “The Big Lie” by Ralph McInerney, “Cornwell’s Pope” by Peter Gumpel, SJ, “Pius XII Was No Nazi” by Ralph McInerney, “The Reform of Pius XII” by Mark Brumley, “The Attack on Pius XII” by James Hitchcock, and “Pope Pius XII and Crime” by Gerard Bradley. Crown of Glory – the Life of Pope Pius XII by Alden Hatch and Seamus Walshe. The Red Horse by Eugenio Corti - a historical novel about World War II written from the author’s own personal experiences as an Italian Freedom Fighter. It shows the effects of the war on the families in Corti’s hometown and witnesses to actual events such as Nazi barbarism, the Communist gulag, and the North Italian resistance. Most importantly - and this is what makes this book a masterpiece - is the spiritual dimension of the main character, his family and friends, for it is that which sheds light on the tragedy of the war and its aftermath. It is truly a story of faith and hope in the midst of a time that seemed altogether hopeless. OTHER WORLD WAR II / HOLOCAUST BOOKS Children in the Holocaust and World War II - their secret diaries The Jewish Holocaust for Beginners Hiding to Survive - stories of Jewish children rescued from the holocaust Tell Them We Remember - the story of the holocaust The Hiding Place Witness to Annihilation - surviving the Holocaust: a memoir Catholics Remember the Holocaust Rena’s Promise - a story of sisters in Auschwitz Children of the Flames - Dr. Josef Mengele and the untold story of the twins of Auschwitz But Can the Phoenix Sing (young adult novel) On the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the Second World War. August, 1989. Journey into Terror Catholic Teaching on the Shoah - implementing the holy see’s “We Remember” OTHER VIDEOS The Rise and fall of the third Reich (documentary) One Survivor Remembers (documentary) SHOAH (5 video set) Survivors of the Holocaust (documentary) The Wannsee Conference (documentary) Hanged on a Twisted Cross (about Dietrich Bonhoeffer) Anne Frank Remembered (documentary) Anne Frank (made for tv movie) Maximilian - Saint of Auschwitz Maximilian Kolbe The Seventh chamber of Edith Stein - an interpreted life Edith Stein Ocean of mercy (about St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Maximillian Kolbe, and Pope John Paul II) Holocaust (3 video movie) Life Is Beautiful (movie, WWII Italy) Jakob the Liar Miss Rose White Au Revoir les Enfants (subtitles) CDs The Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust
"POPE PIUS XII SILENT WITNESS OR NAZI SYMPATHIZER"