Pius XII and Anti-Semtism

Part I

Dear CINEASTers, for general knowledge information, here is part I as to defending Pope Pius XII Daniel Joseph Barton

1. From the pages of *The Catalyst*, the publication of Catholic League:

Two editorial articles from the New York Times, as follows:

Editorial of Dec 25, 1941: "The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas..in calling for a `real new order' based on `liberty, justice and love' to be attained only by a `return to social and international principles capable of creating a barrier against the abuse of liberty and the abuse of power', the Pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism. Recognizing that there is no road open to agreement between belligerents `whose reciprocal war aims and programs seem to be irreconcilable' he left no doubt that the Nazi aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christian peace."

Editorial of Dec 25, 1942: "No Christmas sermon reaches a larger congregation than the message of Pope Pius XII addresses to a war-torn world at this season. This Christmas more than ever he is a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent. The Pulpit whence he speaks is more than ever like the Rock on which the Church is founded, a tiny island lashed and surrounded by a sea of war."

Catholic League, 1011 First Ave, NYC NY, 10022 has published information within its monthly newsletters defending Pope Pius XII quite often. I believe that they also have a book that deals with the subject.

2. From Catholic Answer's *THIS ROCK*, dated Feb 97:

There are quotes within this issue as to what Dave Hunt, anti-Catholic writer has written as to the Popes in collusion with the Nazis. There are quotes from Jack Chick, famous for his anti-Catholic comic books as to the Popes building up the Nazi war machine.

However, *THIS ROCK* mentions that even before Pope Pius XII was elected Pope, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was the Vatican Secretary of State. On 28 April 1935, Cardinal Pacelli gave a speech to an audience of 250,000 pilgrims at Lourdes France stating that the Nazis "are in reality only miserable plagiarists who dress up old errors with new tinsel. It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of social revolution, whether they are guided by a false concept of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult." According to *THIS ROCK*, it was talks like this, in addition to private remarks and numerous notes of protest that Pacelli sent to Berlin in his capacity as Vatican Secretary of State that earned him a reputation as an enemy of the Nazi party. The Germans were likewise displeased with the reigning pontiff, Pius XI, who showed himself to be an unrelenting opponent of the new German "ideals", even writing an entire encyclical "Mit Brennender Sorge" (1937) to condemn them. When Pius XI died in 1939, the Nazis abhorred the prospect that Pacelli might be elected successor. (To my knowledge, this encyclical is the only one up to then, that had not been titled in Latin, precisely to get the Germans' attention).

Dr Joseph Lichten, a Polish Jew who served as a diplomat and later an official of B'nai B'rith, writes: "Pacelli had obviously established his position clearly, for the Fascist governments of both Italy and Germany spoke vigorously against the possibility of his election to succeed Pius XI in 1939, though the Cardinal had served as papal nuncio to Germany from 1917 to 1929. The day after his election, the *Berlin Morgenpost* said `The election of Cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he has always opposed Nazism and practically determined the policies of the Vatican under his predecessor."

Former Israeli diplomat and now Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide states that Pius XI had "..good reason to make Pacelli the architect of his anti-Nazi policy. Of the forty-four speeches which the nuncio Pacelli had made on German soil between 1917 and 1929, at least forty contained attacks on Nazism or condemnations of Hitler's doctrines...Pacelli who never met Hitler called it `neo-Paganism'."

A few weeks after Pacelli was elected Pope, the German Reich's Chief Security Service issued a then-secret report on the Pope. Rabbi Lapide provides an excerpt: "Pacelli has already made himself prominent by his attacks on National Socialism during his tenure as Cardinal Secretary of State, a fact which earned him the hearty approval of the Democratic States during the Papal elections... How much Pacelli is celebrated as an ally of the Democracies is especially emphasized in the French press."

War came to Europe on 1 Sep 39, when German troops invaded Poland, and Britain & France declared war on Germany for doing such. Early in 1940, Hitler made an attempt to prevent the new Pope from maintaining the anti-Nazi stance he had taken before his election. Hitler sent his underling, Joachim von Ribbentrop to try to dissuage Pius XII from following his predecessor's policies. Von Ribbentrop, granted a formal papal audience, went into a lengthy harangue on the invincibility of the Third Reich, the inevitability of a Nazi victory, and the futility of papal alignment with the enemies of the Fuhrer. Pius XII heard von Ribbentrop out politely and impassively. Then he opened an enormous ledger on his desk, and in perfect German, began to recite a catalogue of the persecutions inflicted by the Third Reich in Poland, listing the date, place and precise details of every crime. The audience was terminated; the Pope's position was clearly unshakable.

The Pope secretly worked to save as many Jewish lives as possible from the Nazis, whose extermination campaign began its most intense phase only after the War had started. It is here that anti-Catholics try to make their hay: Pius XII is charged either with cowardly silence or with outright support of the Nazi exterminations..

Much of the impetus to smear the Vatican regarding WWII came, appropriately enough, from a work of fiction - a stage play called "The Deputy", written after the war by a little-known German Protestant playwright named Rolf Hochhuth. The play appeared in 1963, and it painted a portrait of a pope too timid to speak out publicly against the Nazis. Ironically, even Hochhuth admitted that Pius XII was materially very active in support of the Jews. Historian Robert Graham explains: "PLaywright Hochhuth criticized the Pontiff for his alledged silence, but even he admitted that, on the level of action, Pius XII generously aided the Jews to the best of his ability. Today, after a quarter-century of the arbitrary and one-sided presentation offered the public, the word `silence' has taken on a much wider connotation. It stands for `indifference' and `apathy' and `inaction' and implicitely for anti-Semitism."

Hochhuth's fictional image of a silent (though active) Pope has been transformed by the anti-Catholic rumor mill into the image of a silent and inactive pope - and by some even into an actively pro-Nazi monster. If there were any truth to the charge that Pius XII was silent, the silence would not have been out of moral cowardice in the face of the Nazis, but because the Pope was waging a subversive, clandestine war against them in an attempt to save the Jews. The need to refrain from provocative public statements at such delicate moments was fully recognized in Jewish circles. It was in fact the basic rule of all those agencies in wartime Europe who keenly felt the duty to do all that was possible for the victims of Nazi atrocities and in particular the Jews in proximate danger of deportation to an unknown destination. The negative consequences of speaking out strongly were only too well known. In one tragic instance, the Archbishop of Utrecht was warned by the Nazis to not protest the deportation of Dutch Jews. He spoke out anyway and in retaliation, the Catholic Jews of Holland were sent to their death. One of them was the Carmelite philosopher Edith Stein.

While the armchair quarterbacks of anti-Catholic circles may have wished the Pope to issue, in Axis territory and during wartime, ringing propagandistic statements against the Nazis, the Pope realized that such was not an option, if he were to actually save human lives rather than mug for cameras.

The desire for a low profile were expressed by the very people that Pope Pius XII helped. A Jewish couple from Berlin, who had been held in concentration camps but escaped to Spain with the help of Pope Pius XII stated: "None of us wanted Pope Pius to take an open stand. We were all fugitives, and fugitives do not wish to be pointed at. The Gestapo would have become more excited and would have intensified its inquisitions. If the Pope had protested, Rome would have become the center of attention. It was better that the Pope say nothing. We all shared this opinion at the time, and this is still our conviction today."

While the US, Great Britain, and other countries often refused to allow Jewish refugees to immigrate during the War, the Vatican was issuing tens of thousands of false documents to allow Jews to pass secretly as Christians so they could escape the Nazis.

What is more, the financial aid Pius XII helped provide the Jews was very real, Lichten, Lapide, and other Jewish chroniclers record those funds as being in the millions of dollars - dollars even more valuable then than they are today.

In late 1943, Mussolini, who had been at odds with the papacy all through his tenure, was removed from power by Italians. But Hitler invaded and took over, and re-set Mussolini up again as a puppet ruler. It was then, when the Jews of Rome themselves were threatened, those whom the Pope had the most direct ability to help, that the Pope really showed his mettle.


Daniel Joseph Barton

___________________________________________________ ******* Do not listen gleefully to gossip at your neighbor's expense or chatter to a person who likes finding fault. Otherwise you will fall away from divine love and find yourself cut off from eternal life. -St. Maximos the Confessor *******

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