The Charity of Pope Pius XII  by Eugenio Zolli |
From Before the Dawn: Autobiographical Reflections by Eugenio Zolli, Former Chief Rabbi of Rome

"Did you become a convert out of gratitude toward the Pope, who did so much for the Jews of Italy during the Nazi persecution?" This question was addressed to me, and still is, by reporters. In many interviews (inaccurate or invented), they describe me as answering in the affirmative. Why? I suppose to please readers by providing them with a precise and pleasing explanation. In reality, my reply has always been in the negative, but this ought not to be interpreted as a lack of gratitude, and in fact in another book of mine [1] I have emphasized the great charity of the Holy Father and my admiration for him and his work.

As from the Cross of Christ, so from the Chair of Peter, proceed spiritual rays that aim at reaching and illuminating and doing good to all without distinction. One might say of the reign of Plus XII that he is inspired by Isaiah's words: Peace is harmony, peace is salvation, to those near, to those afar off. I want to heal them all.

The Catholic Church loves all souls. She suffers with all and for all; she awaits her children on the sacred threshold of Peter with love, and her children are all men. Wisdom, in the Proverbs of Solomon, invites all to her table. The Church, through her visible Head, offers her love and truth and freedom to all. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (Jn 8:32).

Jesus Christ spoke of Himself as the "door"; and, again, He said: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" (Rev 2:20). The Vicar of Christ wants all men to be within the sphere of human and divine charity. Only charity makes men free. At the very hour in which the terrible sacrificial rite of blood was initiated, the destruction en masse in the name of race, of nation, of the state, concentrating the three into one factor: "blood"--precisely then, in the midst of so many fanatics, the great Pontiff, unique, serene and wise, exclaims: "But the legitimate and just love toward one's own country must not close the eyes to the universality of Christian charity, which also considers others and their prosperity in the pacifying light of love!"

There is no place of sorrow where the spirit of love of Plus XII has not reached. Volumes could be written on the multiform works of succour of Plus XII. The Catholic priesthood throughout the whole world, religious men and women and the Catholic laity, stand behind the great Pontiff Who could ever tell what has been done? The rule of severe enclosure falls, every thing and all things are at the service of charity. As the sufferings grow, so grows the light from the heart of Christ, and from His Vicar; more vigilant and ready for sacrifice and martyrdom are his sons and daughters in Christ. Young Levites and white-haired priests, religious of all orders, in all lands, dedicated Sisters, all in quest of good works and ready for sacrifice. There are no barriers, no distinctions. All sufferers are children of God in the eyes of the Church, children in Christ, for them and with them all suffer and die. No hero in history has commanded such an army; none is more militant, more fought against, none more heroic than that conducted by Plus XII in the name of Christian charity.

An old priest who could do nothing further gathered around him in the church the women and children of the village (the men had been slaughtered outside the village) so that they might die together in the presence of the crucifix. His dead body is thrown upon the altar, where once he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice, and there he lies, himself sacrificed. An army of priests works in cities and small towns to provide bread for the persecuted and passports for the fugitives. Sisters go into unheated canteens to give hospitality to women refugees. Orphans of all nations and religions are gathered together and cared for. No economic sacrifice is considered too great to help the innocent to flee to foreign lands from those who seek their death. A religious, a most learned man, works incessantly to save Jews, and himself dies a martyr. Sisters endure hunger to feed the refugees. Superiors go out in the night to meet strange soldiers who demand victims. They manage, at the risk of their lives, to convey the impression that they have none--they, who have several in their care.

The attic of one of the great churches in the center of Rome is divided into many sections, each bearing the name of the saint in whose honor the altar below is dedicated. The refugees are divided for the distribution of food into groups according to the names of these saints. Must not the soul of the saint rejoice in such a tribute? Schools, administrative offices, churches, convents all have their guests.

Pope Plus XII is followed by all with the fervor of that charity that fears not death. No one asks for anything except to follow in the footsteps of the Master under the guidance of Plus XII.


The Truth of Pope Pacelli
A Look at the Man Who Became Pius XII

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, NOV. 27, 2008 - November in Rome offers time for reflection, as the usual local exuberance is tempered by the encroaching darkness of winter.

A new exhibit on the life of Pope Pius XII in the Charlemagne wing of St. Peter's Basilica offers the possibility to pilgrims, students and the simply curious to examine the multiple facets of this Pope's remarkable life.

"Pius XII: The Man and the Pontificate" opened on Nov. 6 and will remain until Dec. 5. It has no admission fee; all are invited to come and learn more about this much maligned and misunderstood Pontiff.

An impressive array of sponsors put the show together, drawing on archives from Argentina, Hungary, Uruguay, Brazil, France and Germany, as well as Vatican archival material. The Italian state television RAI and Vatican Radio offered footage and recordings, while scholars from all over the globe produced the astonishing quantity of didactic material.

The first few displays introduce the visitors to the young Roman boy, Eugenio Pacelli, born into a devout family of successful professionals. Even as a youngster living near Piazza Navona, he distinguished himself through his love of music and reading.

At eight years old, Eugenio began spiritual direction with Father Giuseppe Laus of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. This connection with the Oratorians would fuel his spirit of galvanizing the laypeople into preaching and living the Gospel in their lives and actions.

Eugenio Pacelli soon entered the seminary and on April 2, 1899, Easter Sunday, he was ordained a priest. A photograph from that happy era shows light radiating on a high intelligent brow and his direct gaze warmly engaging the viewer. Comparing this serene and hopeful portrait with later pictures, underscores how much his times and trials marked him.


The exhibit is biographical, and traces the various steps of Pacelli's life from his ordination as bishop in the Sistine Chapel in 1917, his years as nuncio in Germany, his rise to cardinal and election to the papacy. Scattered amid the chronological narrative are some shimmering moments that bring out various facets of the nuanced personality of Pope Pius XII.

A jeweled ring sitting in a glass case carries an unusual history. It was Pacelli's bishop ring from his ordination to the episcopate, which in 1958, he slipped off his own finger to give to the neo-archbishop of Montreal. The ring was then given to Pope Paul VI who returned it to the Pacelli family.

Also from the Pacelli family archives is a letter written from Bishop Pacelli to his brother on Oct. 2, 1928, imploring him to intercede to prevent him from being made cardinal and "condemned to purely bureaucratic work in the congregations."

Bishop Pacelli begs to remain in Germany where he can be of much greater assistance to the relationship between the Church and Germany.

The German Catholics loved Eugenio Pacelli for his galvanization of the faith among the laity. He strongly promoted Katholiktag every year, when thousands of Catholics gathered together to affirm their identity and pray.

Undoubtedly many of the connections forged in those days became crucial to the network of Christians helping refugees during the era of Hitler.

Photographs record Bishop Pacelli's visits to prison camps to ensure better treatment for prisoners and the release of the ill or infirm. Eugenio Pacelli also set up the Ufficio Informativo Vaticano to let families know the whereabouts of prisoners of war.

Another picture shows the bishop in miner's gear, visiting the mining camps to learn about the conditions of workers.

Reaching out

Bishop Pacelli's ceaseless desire to learn about all branches of human activity brought him to converse with Einstein, while another photo has him standing with Gugliermo Marconi, inventor of the radio.

Marconi would oversee the design of Vatican Radio and Pope Pius XII would embrace the invention, delighting in the ability to reach more and more people throughout the world.

As his mission became increasingly universal, Pacelli studied constantly to keep up with the developments of the modern age. Health workers, scientists and philosophers were all amazed by the versatility and depth of his knowledge.

Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope in 1939 just as the situation in Germany was rapidly deteriorating. The exhibition, in its attempt to move beyond the malicious slander of Pius' alleged collaboration with Hitler's regime, offers just a few telling photos, such as Jewish refugees hidden in his summer home of Castel Gandolfo.

Sadly, it does not pause to present the worldwide thanks and tributes offered to Pope Pius after the war by Golda Meir and many others, long before the campaign of lies initiated by the 1963 play "The Deputy."

"We are either with Christ or against Christ," announced Pope Pius XII in his Christmas message of 1947, prophetic words which defined his own life.

His message and his example are sorely needed in our times, but his words have been drowned out by the torrent of falsehoods poured out from Eastern Europe and channeled through the West.

Emerging from the Charlemagne wing after pondering the extraordinary life of Eugenio Pacelli, I hoped for a day when Pope Pius XII would join the saints peopling the colonnade of St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquense University's Italian campus. She can be reached at


Pius XII Display Includes Rabbi Thank You
'44 Letter Recalls Jews Saved in Rome

ROME, NOV. 5, 2008 - A Pius XII display at the Vatican exhibits a letter from a French rabbi thanking Pius XII and Catholic priests for their aid to Jews during the Holocaust.

The letter from Rabbi André Zaoui, a chaplain and captain of a French expeditionary force, was dated June 22, 1944. It is among the pieces in the "Pius XII: The Man and the Pontificate" display, which opened to the public Tuesday and runs through Jan. 6.

The rabbi notes how he attended a public audience of the Pope on June 6, 1944, at 12:20 with "numerous allied soldiers and officials."

He also mentions his visit to the Pius XI Institute, "which protected for more than six months some 60 Jewish children, among them some little refugees from France."

Zaoui wrote that he was impressed with the "paternal solicitude of all the teachers," and recalled that the prefect of studies affirmed, "We have done nothing more than our duty."

The rabbi recounts another event, of June 8, 1944: the reopening of the synagogue of Rome, which had been closed by the Nazis in October, 1943.

He spoke of the presence of a priest, Father Benoit, a "French fugitive" who dedicated himself "to the service of the Jewish families of Rome." He recalled the impression made on him by the words of the priest: "I love the Jews with all my heart."

Zaoui affirmed his gratitude, saying, "Israel will never forget."

This letter is also reproduced in the catalogue of the display, published by the Vatican Publishing House. In the catalogue, Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, highlights the importance of the exhibit, saying that "it makes better known a Pontiff who is justly recognized as one of the greatest personalities of the 20th century."

The cardinal thanks those who made the exhibit possible, and expresses his hope that it "brings people, especially young generations, to appreciate the extraordinary figure of this Pope, who knew how to prepare, with prophetic intuition into the signs of the times, the path of the Church during his time."

The display aims to present Pius XII's personality, ranging from his love for animals -- with photographs of him with a canary and some lambs; his fascination for modern inventions -- with his electric razor and his typewriter; his concern for the needy -- with photos of mattresses set up even on the steps of the Apostolic Palace for World War II refugees; his love for art -- noting the concert from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel on May 25, 1955, as a sign of gratitude for his work in favor of the Jews; to his repeated interventions during the war.


Pius XII Saw "Miracle of the Sun"
Handwritten Note Reveals Pope's Experience

By Antonio Gaspari

ROME, NOV. 4, 2008- According to his own testimony, the Pope who declared the dogma of the Assumption saw the "miracle of the sun" four times.

This information is confirmed by a handwritten, unpublished note from Pope Pius XII, which is part of the "Pius XII: The Man and the Pontificate" display. The display opened in the Vatican to the public today and will run through Jan. 6.

A commissioner of the display and a Vatican reporter for the Italian daily Il Giornale, Andrea Tornielli, explained to ZENIT that the note was found in the Pacelli family archives. It describes the "miracle of the sun," an episode that until today had only been affirmed by the indirect testimony of Cardinal Federico Tedeschini (1873-1959), who recounted in a homily that the Holy Father had seen the miracle.

Pius XII wrote, "I have seen the 'miracle of the sun,' this is the pure truth."

The miracle of the sun is most known as the episode that occurred in Fatima, Portugal, on Oct. 13, 1917. According to the Fatima visionaries, Mary had said there would be a miracle that day so that people would come to believe. Thousands had gathered at the site of the visions, and the sun "danced," reportedly drying instantaneously the rain-soaked land and spectators.

Confirming the dogma

Pius XII's note says that he saw the miracle in the year he was to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, 1950, while he walked in the Vatican Gardens.

He said he saw the phenomenon various times, considering it a confirmation of his plan to declare the dogma.

The papal note says that at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, 1950, during his "habitual walk in the Vatican Gardens, reading and studying," having arrived to the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, "toward the top of the hill […] I was awestruck by a phenomenon that before now I had never seen."

"The sun, which was still quite high, looked like a pale, opaque sphere, entirely surrounded by a luminous circle," he recounted. And one could look at the sun, "without the slightest bother. There was a very light little cloud in front of it."

The Holy Father's note goes on to describe "the opaque sphere" that "moved outward slightly, either spinning, or moving from left to right and vice versa. But within the sphere, you could see marked movements with total clarity and without interruption."

Pius XII said he saw the same phenomenon "the 31st of October and Nov. 1, the day of the definition of the dogma of the Assumption, and then again Nov. 8, and after that, no more."

The Pope acknowledged that on other days at about the same hour, he tried to see if the phenomenon would be repeated, "but in vain -- I couldn't fix my gaze [on the sun] for even an instant; my eyes would be dazzled."

Pius XII spoke about the incident with a few cardinals and close collaborators, such that Sister Pascalina Lehnert, the nun in charge of the papal apartments, declared that "Pius XII was very convinced of the reality of the extraordinary phenomenon, which he had seen on four occasions."

Son of Our Lady

Tornielli told ZENIT that there was always a close link between the life of Eugenio Pacelli and the mystery of the Virgin Mary.

"Since childhood," he said, "Eugenio Pacelli was devoted [to Our Lady] and was registered in the Congregation of the Assumption, which had a chapel close to the Church of Jesus. A devotion that seemed prophetic, since he would be precisely the one to declare the dogma of the Assumption in 1950."

The future Pope celebrated his first Mass on April 3, 1899, at the altar of the icon of Mary "Salus Populi Romani" in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. "And then," Tornielli continued, "Eugenio Pacelli received episcopal ordination from Pope Benedict XV in the Sistine Chapel on May 13, 1917, the day of the first apparition of the Virgin of Fatima."

As Pope, in 1940, he approved the Fatima apparitions, and in 1942, consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As well, Pius XII often spoke with Sister Lucia, the visionary of Fatima, and he asked her to transcribe the messages she received from the Virgin. He thus became the first Pope to know the "third secret of Fatima," which Pope John Paul II would later make public.


Myth and Lies

Last Oct. 9, the Church offered a magisterial example of the virtue of gratitude while remembering the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, one of the unsung heroes of the 20th century.

The life of Pius XII seems to have certain parallels with this summer's blockbuster film "The Dark Knight." The hero, Batman, out of love for his fellow citizens, must sacrifice recognition for his relentless battle against evil and ultimately endure persecution by the very people he is protecting.

Pius XII, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, spanning the years of the Second World War, was universally lauded for his wartime efforts after the defeat of the Nazis. But revisionists of many stripes in the late 20th century have competed with one another to besmirch his name, culminating in the scandalous label -- or libel -- of John Cornwall's "Hitler's Pope."

Obscured by the flood of false accusations, from criminal silence regarding the fate of the Jews in Germany to active participation in their persecution, the brilliantly innovative aspects of this pontificate have been completely neglected.

But the tables recently turned for Pius XII as, in the words of Vatican reporter John Allen, Benedict XVI initiated a "full court press" to redeem the name of this great Pope and push forward the cause for his beatification.

An international symposium was held in Rome last September under the auspices of the Pave the Way foundation in order to shed light on the activities of Pius XII in favor of the Jews during World War II.

This organization was founded by an American Jew, Gary Krupp, who believes that in order to create a fruitful dialogue among religions, the accusations regarding Pius XII, a source "of friction between people," must be laid to rest through the discovery of the truth.

Among the findings of the conference was that those who "lived through the brutality of the Nazis and were saved by the church's actions" had a high opinion of the Pope. The Israeli Philharmonic orchestra asked to play for Pope Pius in 1955, and at his death Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir mourned "a great servant of peace."

Krupp noted that it has been the "subsequent generations born into the safety of the defeat of the Nazi regime" who have bought into the myth of the Pius XII as a Nazi collaborator.

During the three-day conference, the meticulous research of Sister Margherita Marchione, Rabbi David Dalin, Andrea Tornielli, Ronald Rychlak and many others was presented, refuting the spurious accusations against the Pope and demonstrating his tremendous role in saving Jewish lives.

Paolo Mieli, director of Italy's leading newspaper, "Corriere della Sera," who happens to be a secular Jew, added another interesting point in an interview published in L'Osservatore Romano when he noted that the hostility toward Pius XII did not originate among the Jews.

It was an Eastern European playwright, Rolf Hochhuth, apparently backed by the KGB, who started the ripple that turned into an earthquake with his six-hour play "The Deputy," in which the playwright accused the Pius XII of culpable silence regarding the persecution of the Jews.

The theatrical piece was quickly picked up by leftist promoters in Paris and London and soon enough, Anglo-Saxon "scholars" hopped on the bandwagon with bestselling books like "Hitler's Pope," "Papal Sin" and "Under His Very Windows."

But when Pope Paul VI announced the opening of the beatification process of both John XXIII and Pius XII in 1965, there were no objections. The Pope's decision to jointly open the two processes was a message of continuity within the Church.

The lies regarding Pius XII were welcomed and even abetted, however, by those who wanted to create a division in the 20th-century Church by drawing a line between the "good" John XXIII and the "bad" Pius XII, and between the "old" Church and the "new" Church of the Second Vatican Council.

But in this wonderful week, as Benedict XVI celebrated a Mass in honor of his esteemed predecessor in a packed St. Peter's Basilica, a giant step was taken toward putting to rest the fictitious legend and honoring the great contributions of Pius XII.

Earlier in the day, the Pope's secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wrote in L'Osservatore Romano of Pius XII's material assistance to the Jews. He said that if Pius XII "had intervened publicly, he would have endangered the lives of thousands of Jews who, at his request, were hidden in the 155 convents and monasteries in the city of Rome alone."

During his homily, Benedict XVI offered a refreshing new view of Pius XII indicating "a great multitude of speeches, addresses and messages delivered to scientists, doctors, and representatives of the most varied categories of workers, some of which even today still possess an extraordinary relevance and continue to be a concrete point of reference."

The current Pontiff concluded with the thought: "As we pray the process of beatification of servant of God Pius XII proceeds happily, it is well to recall that holiness was his ideal, an ideal that he constantly urged for all."

At last, a hero's welcome for Pope Pius XII.


Blessed Pius XII?

The rabbi of Haifa protests, and "La Civiltà Cattolica" bridles. But the beatification of Pope Eugenio Pacelli continues to draw near. And history will also have to do him justice, according to Paolo Mieli, a secular Jew, in "L'Osservatore Romano"

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, October 10, 2008 – Celebrating the Mass for the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Pius XII yesterday at St. Peter's, Pope Joseph Ratzinger invited all to pray "that his beatification cause may proceed smoothly."

It was Paul VI himself, in the hall of Vatican Council II, who proposed the beatification of Pius XII, together with that of John XXIIII. It was November 8, 1965, and Pope Eugenio Pacelli was already the target of mounting accusations that he had collaborated, through his silence, in the Nazi extermination of the Jews: these accusations achieved worldwide prominence through the play "The Vicar" by Rolf Hochhuth, performed for the first time two years earlier in Berlin.

Since then, the beatification cause of Pius XII has crossed paths with the controversy over his silence. On May 8, 2007, the Vatican congregation for the causes of saints voted unanimously in approval of "the heroic virtue" of Pope Pacelli, the last step before the beatification process properly speaking. But so far, Benedict XVI has not signed the decree. A study commission has been charged with making further investigations, also on the basis of documents held in the Vatican archives but not yet accessible to the public.

Opposition to the beatification of Pius XII has been expressed repeatedly in recent years by some representatives of Judaism. These include the current chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni.

In a surprise move, they were joined last October 6 by the chief rabbi of Haifa, Shear Yashuv Cohen.

This was surprising because Rabbi Cohen spoke out against the beatification of Pius XII immediately after speaking before the assembly of the synod of bishops, to which he had been invited as a special guest, entering the hall with full honors, at the side of Benedict XVI, for the first time in the history of the synods.

And there, as well at the end of his speech, he issued a veiled accusation against Pope Pacelli, saying:

"We cannot forget the sad and painful fact of how many, including great religious leaders, didn’t raise a voice in the effort to save our brethren, but chose to keep silent and help secretly."

At the secretariat of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and foreign minister Dominique Mamberti were rather irritated with the snap from the rabbi, and even more so with the decision to invite him, when there are many prominent Jewish leaders who have great respect for Pius XII.

The Vatican authorities, naturally, do not accept outside interference in their decisions, like the proclamation of saints and blesseds, which belongs exclusively to the Church. But the most insidious opposition to the beatification of Pius XII comes from inside the Catholic camp, not from outside of it.

Some of this opposition was to be taken for granted, like the frontal opposition from the scholars of the "school of Bologna," whose exaltation of John XXIII goes hand-in-hand with their rejection of Pius XII.

But other forms of opposition are more subtle, and invested with authority. This is the case of "La Civiltà Cattolica," the magazine of the Rome Jesuits that is printed after review by the secretariat of state.

Last September 18, the same day on which Benedict XVI was defending the heroic virtues of Pius XII in speaking to a group of Jews from the Pave the Way Foundation, "La Civiltà Cattolica" published an article by its historian, Fr. Giovanni Sale, highly critical of the diplomatic caution with which Pacelli, as secretary of state, reacted to the anti-Jewish racial laws promulgated in Italy in 1938.

The article – republished in several languages on www.chiesa – prompted an uproar at the Vatican. Some accuse the Jesuits of "La Civiltà Cattolica" of working for a boycott, while others accuse the secretariat of state of failing to exercise proper supervision.

Cardinal Bertone has tried to settle things down by giving great emphasis, in the October 8 edition of "L'Osservatore Romano," to his preface to a book in staunch defense of Pius XII, "The Truth Will Set You Free," written by an American sister, Margherita Marchione, and released that day by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

But another backlash in the quarrel provoked by "La Civiltà Cattolica" could be found in "L'Osservatore Romano" on the following day, in a question from an interview about Pope Pacelli.

"La Civiltà Cattolica has written that Pius XII failed to speak with a prophetic voice. Isn't that a somewhat anachronistic judgment?"

The interview is with Paolo Mieli, a student of the great historian of fascism Renzo De Felice, and the director of the leading Italian newspaper, "Corriere della Sera." Mieli is of Jewish family, with relatives who died in the Nazi concentration camps.

And on an entire page of "the pope's newspaper," Mieli absolutely dismantles the "black legend" weighing against Pius XII, whom he calls "the most important pope of the twentieth century."

The interview was conducted by Maurizio Fontana, who signed the article, and by the director of "L'Osservatore Romano", Giovanni Maria Vian. It was published on October 9, the same day on which, at the Mass for the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Pius XII, Benedict XVI said this of him in the homily:

"He often worked in a secret and silent way precisely because, in the light of the concrete situations of that complex historical moment, he intuited that this was the only way to prevent the worst from happening, and to save the largest possible number of Jews."

Here is the interview, in its entirety:

History will do justice to Pius XII

An interview with Paolo Mieli

Q: There is often talk about the play by Rolf Hochhuth "The Vicar," performed for the first time on February 20, 1963, at the Freie Volksbühne in Berlin. But the criticism of Pope Pacelli's attitudes dates back to long before this. When did the "Pius XII problem" truly emerge?

A: The watershed was without question the performance of "The Vicar," but some of the accusations, even if they were not of the same kind as those of Hochhuth, go back even before the beginning of the second world war. The first to speak of the reticence of Pius XII was, in fact, Emmanuel Mounier, who in May of 1939 courteously objected to a silence that brought embarrassment to many: that of Pius XII concerning Italian aggression against Albania.

The same kind of accusation was then lodged against him by another French Catholic intellectual, François Mauriac, who in 1951 lamented, in the preface to a book by Léon Poliakov, that the persecuted Jews had not had the comfort of hearing the pope condemn in clear and distinct terms "the crucifixion of countless brothers in the Lord." But it should also be recalled that this same book – one of the first important texts on anti-Semitism – presented justifications for this silence. In essence, Poliakov, himself a Jew, wrote that the pope had been silent in order to avoid compromising the safety of the Jews to a much greater extent than had already been done.

Q: So, the first statement on this topic by a Jewish scholar was very cautious?

A: I would go even further. Except for Poliakov, the first assessments of the Jewish community all over the world were not only cautious, they were very favorable toward Pius XII.

Q: Could one reason for this caution be the fact that the real accusations against the pope began to come, already during the war, from the Soviets?

A: Pius XII was certainly a pope who was also – and I emphasize "also" – anti-communist. And during these decades of controversy, he has often been criticized for being swayed by this view. We recall, for example, two famous speeches he delivered before becoming pope, during his trip to France (1937) and to Hungary (1938), in which he emphasized the persecutions of the communist regime rather than those of the Nazi regime.

But a premise must be noted in this regard: the thematization of the Holocaust as we know it today came many decades after the end of the second world war. I remember that during the 1950's and '60's, one still spoke roughly of deportees in the concentration camps. It was known that the Jews had suffered the worst fate, but full awareness of the Holocaust came later. During the 1930's, very few had any idea about what could happen to the Jews. Of course, in Germany, there had been the "night of broken glass." But it is obviously much easier to interpret and understand the facts today, in hindsight. And the Jews who escaped from Germany were not welcomed with open arms in any part of the world, not even in the United States. In short, it was a complex problem. The Western world, the civil world, apart from a few exceptions, did not understand, did not realize what was happening. For this reason, when we talk about a pope at the end of the 1930's, we can understand why he would be more sensitive to anti-Christian persecution in the Soviet Union then to what was emerging in the Nazi world. This does not mean that he was secretly a Nazi.

Q: The 1930's: controversy is often directed at Pius XI as well . . .

A: One of the criticisms of Cardinal Pacelli, who was secretary of state for Pius XI, is that he softened the condemnations of National Socialism. Among the many accusations – which I do not believe are entirely justified – against Pacelli was that he moderated the tone of the encyclical "Mit Brennender Sorge." In reality, examining Pope Pacelli's activities from an historical standpoint, I would recall a few details. When the war began, he criticized the apathy of the French Church under Nazi domination in Vichy France; he then criticized the flagrant anti-Semitism of Slovakian Monsignor Josef Tiso; he extended – as documented in a book by Renato Moro, "La Chiesa e lo sterminio degli ebrei [The Church and the extermination of the Jews]," published by Il Mulino – his own willingness, and even assistance, with highly risky decisiveness, to some of those who plotted against Hitler between 1939 and 1940. I continue: when in June of 1941, the Soviet Union was invaded by Germany, there was a certain resistance in the Western world to making pacts with those who until that moment had fought on the side of Nazi Germany. Pius XII instead exerted himself greatly to facilitate an alliance between Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

And finally, there is the most important chapter: during the Nazi occupation of Rome – as recounted, for example, in two books, the famous volume by Enzo Forcella ("La resistenza in convento [The resistance in the convent]," published by Einaudi) and one just recently released by Andrea Riccardi ("L'inverno più lungo [The longest winter]," Laterza) – the Church made all of its resources available: almost every basilica, every church, every seminary, every convent accommodated and helped the Jews. So much so that in Rome, in comparison with two thousand deported Jews, ten thousand were able to save themselves. Now, I don't mean to say that all of those ten thousand were saved by the Church of Pius XII, but without a doubt the Church contributed to saving most of them. And it would have been impossible for the pope to be unaware of what his priests and sisters were doing. The result was that for years, for years and years – dozens of examples could be given – extremely important figures in the Jewish world acknowledged this contribution, attributing it explicitly to Pius XII.

Now, almost any trace of these witnesses has been lost. This was the subject, for example, of a wonderful book by Andrea Tornielli ("Pio XII il papa degli ebrei [Pius XII, the pope of the Jews]," Piemme). It is an extremely vast literature, of which I would like to provide just a sample. In 1944, the grand rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, said: "The people of Israel will never forget what Pius XII and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion that are at the basis of authentic civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history. This is living proof of divine providence in this world."

That same year, Sergeant Major Joseph Vancover wrote: "I would like to tell you about Jewish Rome, about the great miracle of finding thousands of Jews here. The churches, the convents, the monks and nuns, and above all the pontiff, ran to the aid and rescue of the Jews, snatching them from the clutches of the Nazis and of their fascist Italian collaborators. These great efforts, not without their dangers, were undertaken to conceal and feed the Jews during the months of the German occupation. Some religious paid with their lives for this rescue operation. The entire Church was mobilized for this purpose, working with great dedication. The Vatican was at the center of every activity of assistance and rescue, under the given circumstances an under Nazi domination."

I also cite a letter from the Italian front, by the soldier Eliyahu Lubisky, a member of the socialist kibbutz Bet Alfa. It was published in the weekly "Hashavua" on August 4, 1944: "All of the refugees are talking about how helpful the Vatican was. Priests put their lives in danger to conceal and save Jews. The pontiff himself participated in the work to rescue the Jews."

Again, October 15, 1944. We note the address given by the extraordinary commissioner of the Jewish community in Rome, Silvio Ottolenghi: "Thousands of our brothers were saved in the convents, in the churches, in the extraterritorial buildings. On July 23. I was summoned to meet with His Holiness, to whom I communicated the thanks of the community of Rome for the heroic and affectionate assistance extended to us by the clergy through the convents and colleges . . . I told His Holiness about the desire of my fellow Jews in Rome to go en masse to thank him. But this kind of demonstration was not possible, except at the end of the war, in order to avoid compromising all of those in the north who still needed to be protected."

Q: This was while the war was still going on. Let's come to today . . .

A: Today, unfortunately, attention to Pius XII is so strong that even a normal historiographic discussion becomes heated.

Q: The issue is so incendiary that there is still the problem of the photograph of Pius XII at Yad Vashem, and its caption. This in spite of the mass of testimonies to which you have just referred. What happened?

A: What happened is that over the years, the black legend of Pius XII has been spread. We recall the books by John Cornwell ("Hitler's Pope") and by Daniel Goldhagen ("Hitlers willige Vollstrecker [Hitler's willing executioners]"), in which these accusations are made more explicit. A common judgment was formed, according to which Pius XII was seen as a pontiff who was nothing less than an accomplice of the Nazi Führer. This is crazy! And just think that at Eichmann's trial in 1961, a judgment about the pope was expressed that is worth rereading. The person speaking is Gideon Hausner, the state prosecutor in Jerusalem: "In Rome, on October 16, 1943, a vast round-up was organized in the old Jewish neighborhood. The Italian clergy participated in the rescue operation, the monasteries opened their doors to the Jews. The pontiff intervened personally in favor of the Jews arrested in Rome."

Q: This was just two years before the performance of "The Vicar" . . .

A: And it was in 1963 that a twofold revision of Pius XII's role began taking hold. One of these was malicious – inside the Church itself – and contrasted Pius XII with the figure of John XXIII. It was a devastating operation: John XXIII was treated as a pope who had demonstrated a sensitivity during the second world war that Pius XII had not. This is a very bizarre idea. And between the lines of the invective against Pacelli, it seems to emerge that the pontiff has been made to pay for his anti-communism. In reality, Pius XII was a pope in line with the history of the Catholic Church in the 20th century. If one reads what he wrote or listens to the recordings of his speeches, one realizes how he also expressed, for example, criticism of liberalism. I mean that he was not at all a pawn of anti-communist Atlantism.

Q: This means that he wasn't the chaplain of the West . . .

A: Absolutely not. The image of Pius XII as the chaplain of the great anti-communist offensive during the cold war is off track. Although, naturally, he was anti-communist. And for this anti-communism, he has been made to pay a very high price, which has distorted his image through theatrical performances, publications, and films. But anyone who has not taken a prejudicial attitude and has tried to understand Pacelli through the documents cannot help but be stunned by this black legend, which makes no sense. Pius XII was a great pope, able to meet the situation. It is as if today we were to blast Roosevelt for not speaking more clearly about the Jews. But how can one scrutinize a war, especially regarding an unarmed figure like the Pope? This speciousness of this offensive against Pius XII seems truly suspect to any person of good faith, and it is a speciousness that should be opposed. Sooner or later, someone will reinterpret the facts in the light of the testimonies to which I referred earlier.

Q: Are there differences between European, and in particular Italian, historiography on Pius XII, versus American?

A: I think so. We should not forget that this aversion toward Pius XII emerged in the Anglo-Saxon, Protestant world. It did not emerge from the Jewish world, which instead adapted itself over time in order to avoid being caught off guard by an international campaign. To put it in another way: if the pope is accused of letting anti-Semitism run free, obviously the Jewish world feels itself responsible for seeing things clearly. This brings us to the episode of the seventh hall of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, where a photograph of the pope appears with a caption that describes his behavior as "ambiguous." Or to the request, in 1998, by of the ambassador of Israel to the Holy See at the time, Aaron Lopez, to put a moratorium on the beatification of Pius XII. Now, I have nothing to do with this matter of the moratorium, because it is not an historiographical issue. But there is something excessively obstinate about attitudes toward this pope, and it stinks from a mile away.

It was in 1963 that the spotlight was focused on Pius XII, in an effort to find evidence of his guilt, and nothing emerged. On the contrary, the studies brought to light copious documentation attesting to how his Church gave crucial help to the Jews. I recall, in this regard, one beautiful gesture: in June of 1955, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra asked to be allowed to give a concert at the Vatican in honor of Pius XII, to express gratitude to this pope, and it played in the presence of the pope a movement from Beethoven's seventh symphony. This was the atmosphere. And when the pope died, Golda Meir – Israel's foreign minister, and future prime minister – said: "When the most appalling martyrdom ever struck our people during the ten years of the Nazi terror, the voice of the pontiff was raised in favor of the victims. We weep for the loss of this great servant of peace." For some, the pontiff's voice had not been raised, but they had heard it. Understand? Golda Meir had heard his voice. And William Zuckerman, director of the magazine "Jewish Newsletter," wrote: "All the Jews of America pay homage and express their sorrow, because it is likely that no leader of this generation gave more substantial help to the Jews in the hour of tragedy. More than anyone else, we were able to benefit from the great and charitable goodness and magnanimity of the lamented pontiff during the years of persecution and terror." This is how Pius XII was considered for years, for decades. Were they all crazy? No, they were the ones who had suffered the persecutions for which Pius XII is blamed as an accomplice. If we take this as a case of historiography, the black legend is crazy. But I think that, apart from some polemicists, any historian worthy of the name – even in the case of people like me who are not Catholic – will fight to reestablish the truth.

Q: What has emerged so far from Israeli historiography? Has there been an evolution in the judgment of historians? Is there still a debate about Pius XII?

A: I would say that Israeli historiography is very restrained. In reality, the case is still open because of the obstinance of another world, which is not the Jewish world. I think that three aspects must be considered. First of all, Pius XII has been made to pay for his anti-communism. Second: this pope knew Germany well, and had a pro-German attitude that, make no mistake, does not mean pro-Nazi. Finally, it must be said that the criticisms of Pius XII always come from circles that could be criticized ten times as much themselves. During the Holocaust, these circles were unable to demonstrate a presence anywhere near what they criticize Pius XII for not doing.

Q: Do you want to give us some examples?

A: I think about what happened in France, in Poland, but even in the United States. Let's think about it: the idea of those who accuse Pius XII is that everyone knew, or that in any case it was possible to know. So I ask: whom do we remember, during the second world war, among the personalities of these circles who raised their voices in a way that the pope is criticized for not doing? I don't know any.

Q: Are you also referring to the Italian anti-fascists?

A: Absolutely. But essentially: who can be pointed to as someone who did for the Jews something that the pope did not do? I don't know anyone. There are individual cases, just as there were individual cases among Church authorities. At least this pope did everything he was able to do. He made it possible for ten thousand Jews in Rome – but this also happened in other parts of Italy – to save themselves, compared to the two thousand who were killed. I don't understand what the terms of comparison should be. So I believe that it is possible to conjecture that these criticisms, these invectives, come from circles whose consciences are not at ease in regard to this problem.

Q: So the black legend is a case of a guilty conscience?

A: I would say so. it doesn't make sense otherwise. The truth is that hatred for Pius XII emerged in a specific context, at the start of the cold war. We should remember that it was the pope who made possible the victory of Democrazia Cristiana in 1948. I am convinced that the accusations against him are the purging of a hatred that emerged in the second half of the 1940's and during the 1950's. The literature hostile to Pius XII came after the war. In Italy, it began after the collapse of the national unity government in 1947, and became more heated during the 1950's. This entire depository of hatred and strong aversion emerged in later years. If it had come to light immediately, the Jews whose lives have been saved thanks to this Church would not have permitted the speaking and writing of what has been said and written. Because it came out twenty or thirty years later, all of the witnesses, all of those who were saved – we are talking about thousands of people – were gone, and the new generation of their children took in these accusations. And in fact, who was it who resisted the accusations? The historians.

Q: In addition to this, there were Catholic voices that have contrasted Pius XII and his successor, John XXIII.

A: In fact, I believe that the opening of the beatification causes of these two popes was not announced at the same time by accident. When Paul VI went to the Holy Land in 1964, and spoke in very warm terms about Pius XII, there were no great protests. No one protested. And operation "Vicar" had already begun. The accusations seemed incredible. After this, the landslide gradually gained force, as the generation of eyewitnesses disappeared. In any case, I think that historians will do justice to Pius XII.

Q: We have mentioned the Catholics. "La Civiltà Cattolica" has written that Pius XII failed to speak with a prophetic voice. Isn't that a somewhat anachronistic judgment? Should the pontiff have gone to the ghetto on October 16, 1944, as he had gone to the bombed neighborhood of San Lorenzo a few weeks earlier?

A: Sincerely, the Jewish blood that runs through my veins makes me prefer a pope who helps my fellow Jews to survive, rather than one who performs a showy gesture. A pope who goes to a bombed neighborhood is a pope who weeps for the victims, he performs a gesture of warmth and affection for the city, while his presence in the ghetto might be controversial. Of course, in hindsight anything can be said, even – as has been written – that it would have been right for him to throw himself on the tracks to keep the trains from leaving. But I think that these are frivolous judgments. And also, in sincerity, criticizing another for not doing what none of your own people did is a bit risky. In fact, I don't recall that any representatives of the anti-Nazi Roman resistance went to the ghetto, or threw themselves on the tracks. These discussions are truly lacking in moderation.

Q: About the controversy within Catholicism, Rabbi David Dalin has gone so far as to write that Pius XII is the biggest club that the progressives can use to attack the traditionalists . . .

A: The most inconvenient aspect, but to me it is evident (even if I am looking at it from the outside) is that this battle in the Catholic world that opposes the figures of John XXIII and Pius XII is not very courageous, because no one does it openly. There is no book or article from an authoritative representative of the Catholic world that says clearly, John XXIII yes and Pius XII no. It is a battle carried out between the lines, made up of subtleties. For me, the issue is clear: either one is truly convinced that Pius XII was a Nazi accomplice, or if instead things are the way they have been discussed in this interview, then certain people should realize that these arguments contributed only to perpetuating the black legend about this pope. It should be noted: I believe that this black legend is running out of time. Pius XII will not be a pope marked by a "damnatio memoriae."

Q: Why do you say this?

A: Precisely from the historical point of view, the evidence in favor is so strong and extensive, and the lack of contrary evidence is so glaring, that this offensive against Pius XII is destined to exhaust itself.

Q: A final question about the attitude of Pius XII. How is it possible to reconstruct the nature of his silent work regarding the Holocaust?

A: I have often thought about Pius XII, trying to imagine what kind of personality he had. He has been compared to Benedict XV, the pope of the first world war. But the second world war was very different. Certainly Pacelli was a tormented man, one who had his doubts. He himself dwelt upon his own "silence" in 1941. He found himself at a horrible crossroads that brought some of his convictions into question. Then there was a long period after the war, until 1958, in which he continued to be a strong pope, present, important, decisive for the reconstruction of Italy in the period following the war. He may have been the most important pope the 20th century. He was certainly tormented by doubts. On the matter of his silence, as I have said, he questioned himself. But it is precisely this that gives me a sense of his greatness.

One thing has struck me above all. Once the war was over, if Pius XII had had a guilty conscience, he would have bragged about his work to save the Jews. But he never did this. He never said a word. He could have. He could have had it written about, had it said. He didn't do it. For me, this is the proof of how substantial his character was. He was not a pope who felt the need to defend himself. Regarding judgment about Pius XII, I must say that there remains in my heart what Robert Kempner, a Jewish lawyer of German origin and the second prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial, wrote in 1964: "Any propagandistic statement of position by the Church against the government of Hitler would not only have been premeditated suicide, but would have accelerated the killing of a much greater number of Jews and priests."

I conclude: for twenty years, the judgments about Pius XII were unanimous. In my opinion, therefore, there is something that doesn't add up about the offensive against them. And anyone who ventures to study him with intellectual honesty must start from precisely this point. From these figures that don't add up.


A Son of the Church of Pius XII Breaks the Silence on His Sanctity

The beatification of pope Pacelli brings division again. Some Jews and Catholics reject it. Pietro De Marco defends it. And he explains what is the real miracle accomplished by this pope

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, January 27, 2005 – In relations between the Jews and the papacy, lights alternate with shadows.

One great moment of light was the January 18 meeting in the Vatican between John Paul II and 130 Jewish rabbis from various countries.

The purpose of the meeting – initiated by the rabbis and organized by the Pave the Way Foundation, headed by Gary Krupp – was to thank the pope for his extraordinary commitment to reconciling Jews and Christians and to defending the Jewish people, ever since he was a young priest in Poland. After saying "thank you" and "shalom" with great emotion in their voices, three rabbis blessed John Paul II with formulaic prayers in Hebrew and English.

The previous evening, in a conference in Rome at the Pro Unione center, rabbi Jack Bemporad of the Center for Interreligious Understanding had faced the question of Pius XII and his much-discussed "silence" on the exterminations carried out by the nazis.

"By his judgement Pius XII did what he had to do," he said. "Look at what happened in Greece and Thessalonika, where over 96 percent of the Jews were rounded up and sent to the camps. There both the Catholic and the Orthodox bishops did speak out, and they were rounded up and shipped off too."

In Poland, too, the bishops repeatedly asked the pope to raise a public protest against the killing of priests and religious sisters. But he didn't do it. "Are we supposed to think that Pius XII was anti-Catholic because he didn’t condemn the killing of Catholics in Poland?"

Bemporad concluded that it is extremely difficult to express judgments on Pius XII, given the extreme threats he had to face. "It was not clear who was going to win the war, and if the Church would even be able to survive."

He was echoed by another rabbi of the delegation, Moses A. Birnbaum of the Plainview Jewish Center in Long Island, New York: "Let’s not forget that Jewish groups praised Pius XII after the war." The Jews, he added, should stay out of the discussion about the possibility of his beatification.

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But the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, had indeed spoken out against the beatification of Pius XII a few days earlier.

Using as his launching point the new Vatican documents that had appeared in the newspapers, dealing with the Jewish children sheltered during the war by Catholic families and institutes – documents he defined as "horrible" – Di Segni told the news agency Apcom on January 11:

"The Church has every right to elevate to the altars whoever suits it. If anything, the problem is ours, because if the Church beatifies someone it is doing nothing other than indicating a model of spiritual perfection to Christians. Faced with a Church that identifies as a spiritual ideal a subject who has behaved in a certain way, we [Jews] can, as a consequence, also decide whether and how to engage in dialogue."

During those same days, Catholic historian Alberto Melloni, of the Institute for Religious Studies in Bologna founded by Fr. Giuseppe Dossetti and headed by Giuseppe Alberigo, also spoke out against the beatification of Pius XII, started by Paul VI in 1965. Melloni wrote in "Corriere della Sera" on January 9:

"A process [of beatification] is not a dogma before which historians and Catholics, and above all Jews, must bow down in order not to block its development."

Pius XII, in the judgment of Melloni and Alberigo, was "a solitary and calculating pope, whose person was dominated by the internal logic of political factors."

But curiously, in the most recent edition of the magazine directed by Alberigo and Melloni, "Christianity in History," there appears an essay by Kenneth L. Woodward which records the unanimously positive opinions about Pius XII that appeared in the English-language press after his death in 1958.

"For example," Woodward writes, "an editorial in ‘The New York Times,’ now one of the most sympathetic forums for Pacelli criticism, praised the pope for standing up to the Nazis [...] noting [his] intense spirituality." The only criticism that the most critical newspaper at the time, the liberal 'The Reporter', directed against the deceased pope was his "failure to replenish the much-depleted College of Cardinals."

Woodward adds that judgments on Pius XII would change in "another five years [with] the publication of Rolf Hochhuth’s play, ‘The Deputy,’ generally regarded as the event that precipitated the revised and largely negative assessment of Pacelli in our own time, at least in some circles."

* * *

In short, Pius XII continues to be a sign of contradiction, both within and outside of the Church. And he would be so even more as soon as he was proclaimed blessed.

But behind the curtain of the polemics, the authentic Pius XII is in danger of disappearing. And any understanding of his sanctity remains elusive.

In the note below, Pietro De Marco – who was a son of the Church of Pius XII – penetrates this wall of incomprehension and traces a profile of this pope free from the usual categories. Free, and liberating.

Pietro De Marco, a specialist in religious geopolitics, is a professor at the University of Florence and the Theological Faculty of Central Italy. He wrote this note for www.chiesa:

Towards an Evaluation of Pius XII

by Pietro De Marco

My Christian formation took place in the Church of Pius XII. My parish priests, my religion teachers were men of the Church of Pius XII. No anti-Semitic attitudes were transmitted to me, unless one maintains that the Creed, the Catechism, the Mass, and the Gospels were or are anti-Semitic. For years, I prayed on every Good Friday for the "perfidi Judaei," knowing since my youth that "perfidus" in Church Latin means "unbelieving" with respect to Christ.

My high school religion teacher and spiritual director – mine, and of many others in Florence – until the time of his death, Fr. Raffaele Bensi, was a priest of the Church of Pius XII, even though he had been trained for the priesthood during the two preceding pontificates. He was a priest of the Church of Pius XII also in his intense activity to help the Jews and the men of the Italian anti-fascist Resistance conducted during the war.

But I learned from Fr. Bensi that the Church, with the same courage and freedom with which it sought to help the Resistance and the Jews, also meant to save the lives of the men on the other side, when the defeated were made beasts to be hunted.

The Church of Pius XII was then still the sovereign Church in its judgment of history, in the decisions its men faced, in the horizons of ultimate choice to which these were called. It might err, in men just as in this or that act or judgment, but it drew its capacity for judgment and for jurisdiction from its own supernatural foundation: and in that, no circumstance founded otherwise could replace or compel it. This is the meaning of its "perfectio," which is strictly connected with martyrdom, because collision with other powers – even the most legitimate – is certain.

I add that the tested and enlightened humanity that emerged from the second world war and from its chains of retaliations and massacres understood the meaning of this limitless and sovereign exercise of charity (and forgiveness) by the Church, according to which it had one day saved an Italian resistance fighter and the next day had wished to withdraw from summary execution a German or a fascist. It was the right to give sanctuary, the right to bind and loose, as a manifestation of the lofty and meek justice of God.

Fr. Bensi spoke to us with admiration and, at the same time, detachment of the book "Pastoral Experiences" by the "rebel" Fr. Lorenzo Milani. But Milani himself, perhaps his most beloved pupil, had been born for the priesthood and always held to the austere, difficult, virile dialectic of the Church of Pius XII; he was never "conciliar." Bensi himself had no tolerance for the fashions and the choruses of the conciliar period; he taught us to keep our minds and hearts vigilant against catchwords, against "turning points" and "conquests," which are always equivocal in a religious tradition.

Thus, even during my time as a young Catholic connected with projects of "reformatio Ecclesiae" and very close to the political left – the 1960's and '70's, to give an idea – the Church's more than spiritualistic transcendence and its ultimate primacy over the city of man remained for me undeniable facts. This meant a primacy that was also "social," in the meaning proposed by Henri De Lubac in "Catholicisme." It meant the Church-as-institution as an irrevocable form of the manifestation of the Holy.

Together with the Church-as-institution and Rome, which represents it, not even the "white Father" of my adolescence was ever eliminated from within me by upheavals or revolts. My Catholic ties to pope Pius XII weathered the test of the 1960's. The aggression carried out against him by the "Vicar" of Hochhuth seemed to me – and still seems – despicable; but in reality it seemed that way to everyone, even in progressivist Catholic circles. It must be said, however: persons born, like me, at the time of the war, if they were not subsequently "remade" ideologically, retain an unparalleled sense of the complexity of daily life and of history, and an aversion to rhetoric. To the contrary; they retain a sense of and a need for truth that has little to do with an abstract raging, whether twenty or sixty years later, over events that have become incomprehensible in the meantime, even when their details are better known.

Anyone who had told him that Pius XII should have "spoken," "born witness," "incarnated the Word," would not have been spared Fr. Bensi's reproof. The "white Father" did what his conscience told him: and it was the conscience of a pope; that is, of someone really, and not just rhetorically, responsible for the universal Church and for the spiritual and, at that moment, even physical health of many. Pius XII both wanted and knew how to avoid being impeded from action. And from the safety of his position between spiritual guide and head of state, he worked in practical ways for the good of many, and to an enormous extent, I believe.

The unfavourable comparison with Gandhi – newly proposed in recent days – is unsustainable. The Church, the Christian people, is not a nation, does not mobilize itself as a great ethnic group; the German army of occupation cannot be compared to the English troops; the British leaders were not the SS. Pope Eugenio Pacelli did not have decades before him, but a meager ration of days, each of which might have been the last of his rule. Nor did Gandhi – I hazard to say – have the complexity of a Christian saint; he was imbued from the start with Tolstoy's simplified Gospel. It is foolish to imagine the pope at the head of a non-violent demonstration in St. Peter's Square, on any day whatsoever of 1943. Such an exhibition, supposing it would have been thinkable for the rigorous mind of Pius XII, would not have disconcerted the German high command.

It was, instead, pope Pacelli's impenetrable brilliance and his capacity as a leader that stopped Hitler at the gates of Vatican City. Words could not have had any effect on Hitler, but he probably was affected both by the manifestation of the bond between the Vicar of Christ – yes, the Vicar! – and his universal people, i.e. an extraordinary degree of political-religious charisma, and by the fear that laying hands on the pontiff would have had a delegitimizing, profaning effect upon him, Hitler, and not only among Catholic peoples.

In short, the only foundation and the only arena of political action that remained for Pius XII in the face of Hitler was his person, as the "Pope's body," and his charisma of authority. He wanted these to remain free and operative, and he kept them so for as long as he could. Pacelli's freedom was the residual "libertas Ecclesiae," and this represented, and saved, the lives of many.

It is too simple to insist today – perhaps recalling as a counterexample the sacrifice of Fr. Kolbe – that Pacelli, in the midst of that turbulence, should have gone to meet a personal "martyrium." Martyrdom would have been only a liberation from the burdens of office, from the daily exercise of charisma. I have reread "Murder in the Cathedral" by T.S. Eliot. It was published and performed in 1935, but I don't know if Pacelli was familiar with it at the time. Shortly before his death the protagonist, Thomas Becket, faces temptations old ("real goods, worthless but real," as he says) and new, presented to the archbishop by the ultimate Tempter, himself. In the face of the supreme temptation, that of certain sanctity through martyrdom, Thomas examines and chooses the option of sufferance, of non-action: neither going towards nor drawing back from martyrdom.

Pacelli chose action. But there's a difference between him and Becket. Thomas could rely on the pope to make up for the blood spilled and the void left in Canterbury by his own defenseless self-offering to his assassins. But Pacelli was the pope, and there was no principle of order greater than him on the earth.

In Pius XII, therefore, there is manifested the heroism of the one who works under extreme responsibility, in the exceptional situation: it is the sanctity of the rock, the marvelous Catholic sanctity that flows from decisive action, and not from homilies. It is a sanctity that, perhaps after torment, knows it cannot stop because of torment and indecision.

The miracle of Pius XII is that of the house built upon the rock (Mt. 7:24), which he kept intact in silence – and by virtue of silence – and which was thereby capable of providing shelter and protection in a place that words would have destroyed.

Of course, Pacelli has nothing to do, in part because of his aristocratic birth, with the famous "clasa discutidora" of Donoso Cortés. Pacelli had already experienced the dangerous vacuity of revolutionary wordmongering as a nuncio in Munich, Germany, in 1919.

Rationality, incarnating the role of the guide – "pasce oves meas" – and work: in part because of all these the "gentle Christ on earth" looked upon the horror with eyes that, in my mind, fortunately do not resemble those of the Dostoyevskian reprises of Christ so attractive for us. He was a model of sanctity neither smiling, nor utopian, nor sacrificial.

For this reason, too, it is a source of riches for us – and a gift of the Catholic "complexio oppositorum" – that the sanctity of Pius XII should be so, and that the Church should intend to propose it to us. Raised to the altars, he will be a lofty model of charismatic responsibility and rational rigor, of which we have a tremendous need.


Pope's Homily on Pius XII
"Sanctity Was His Ideal"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2008 - Here is a translation of the homily given by Benedict XVI at a Mass said in St. Peter's today in memory of the death of Pius XII on the 50th anniversary of his death.

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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The passage from the Book of Syracide and the prologue from the First Letter of Saint Peter, proclaimed as the first and second reading, offer significant points for reflection in this Eucharistic celebration, during which we remember my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Pius XII. Exactly fifty years have passed since the time of his death, which occurred in the first hours of October 9 1958. The Syracide, as we heard, reminded those who wish to follow the Lord that they must prepare themselves to face new trials, difficulties and suffering. To not be overcome by these -- he admonishes -- one needs a righteous and constant heart, faithfulness to God and patience united to an inflexible determination in continuing on the path of good. Suffering sharpens the heart of the Lord's disciple, just as gold is purified in the furnace. The sacred author writes: "Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient, since gold is tested in the fire, and the chosen in the furnace of humiliation" (2:4).

On his part, Saint Peter in the pericope that was proposed to us, turning to the Christians of the communities of Asia Minor who "bear all sorts of trials", goes beyond this: he asks them to feel, despite all this, "great joy" (1 Pet 1:6). Proof is in fact necessary, he observes, "so that the worth of your faith, more valuable than gold, which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire, may be proved -- to your praise and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Pet 1:7). And then, for the second time, he exhorts them to be joyous, rather exult "with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described" (see 1:8). The profound reason of this spiritual joy is the love for Jesus and the certainty of His invisible presence. He makes the believers' faith and hope unshakeable, even when faced with the most complicated and harsh events of existence.

In the light of these Biblical texts we can read about the earthly life of Pope Pacelli and his lengthy service to the Church, which began in 1901 under Leo XIII and continued with Saint Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI. These Biblical texts help us, above all, to understand which was the source he drew from for his courage and patience in his pontifical ministry, during the troubled years of World War II and the following ones, no less complex, of reconstruction and difficult international relationship of history called "the Cold War."

"Miserere mei Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam": with this invocation from Psalm 50(51), Pius XII began his testament. And he continued: "These words, conscious of being unworthy and unequal, which I pronounced the moment I gave, trembling, my acceptance of the election as Supreme Pontiff, with greater conviction I repeat now." This was two years before his death. To abandon oneself in the hands of the merciful God: This was the attitude my venerable Predecessor constantly cultivated, the last of the Popes born in Rome and belonging to a family tied to the Holy See for many years.

In Germany, where he was the Apostolic Nuncio, first in Munich of Bavaria and then in Berlin until 1929, he left behind grateful memories, especially for having collaborated with Benedict XV in the attempt to stop the "useless slaughter" of the Great War, and for having realized from the beginning the danger of the monstrous Nazi-Socialist ideology with its pernicious anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic root. He was created a Cardinal in December 1929, and shortly after became the Secretary of State. For nine years he was a faithful collaborator of Pius XI, in a time marked by totalitarianism: Fascist, Nazi and Soviet Communism, all condemned by the encyclicals "Non Abbiamo Bisogno," "Mit Brennenbder Sorge" and "Divini Redemptoris."

"Whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life" (Jn 5:24). This assurance made by Jesus, which we have heard in the Gospel, makes us think back to the hardest moments of the Pontificate of Pius XII when, realizing the loss of any human security, he felt the need, even through constant ascetic effort, to belong to Christ, the only certainty that never sets. The Word of God thus becomes the light of his path, a path in which Pope Pacelli had to comfort the homeless and persecuted persons, dry the tears of suffering and the crying of so many victims of the war. Only Christ is the true hope of man; only entrusting the human heart to Him can it open up to love that overcomes hate. This knowledge followed Pius XII in his ministry as the Successor of Peter, a ministry that began when the menacing clouds of a new world conflict grew over Europe and the rest of the world, which he tried to avoid in all ways: He called out in his message on the radio on August 24 1939: The danger is imminent, but there is still time. Nothing is lost with peace. Everything can be lost with war" (AAS, XXXI, 1939, p. 334).

The war highlighted the love he felt for his "beloved Rome," a love demonstrated by the intense charitable work he undertook in defense of the persecuted, without any distinction of religion, ethnicity, nationality or political leanings. When, once the city was occupied, he was repeatedly advised to leave the Vatican to safeguard himself, his answer was always the same and decisive: "I will not leave Rome and my place, even at the cost of my life" (cf Summarium, p. 186). His relatives and other witnesses refer furthermore to privations regarding food, heating, clothes and comfort, to which he subjected himself voluntarily in order to share in the extremely trying conditions suffered by the people due to the bombardments and consequences of war (cf A. Tornielli, "Pio XII, Un uomo sul trono di Pietro"). And how can we forget his Christmas radio message of December 1942? In a voice breaking with emotion he deplored the situation of "the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline" (AAS, XXXV, 1943, p. 23), a clear reference to the deportation and extermination of the Jews. He often acted secretly and silently because, in the light of the concrete realities of that complex historical moment, he saw that this was the only way to avoid the worst and save the largest possible number of Jews. His interventions, at the end of the war and at the time of his death, received numerous and unanimous expressions of gratitude from the highest authorities of the Jewish world, such as, for example, the Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir, who wrote: "During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and commiserate with their victims"; ending emotionally: "We mourn a great servant of peace."

Unfortunately, the historical debate on the figure of the Servant of God Pius XII, which has not always been the calmest, has prevented us shining a light on all the aspects of his multifaceted Pontificate. There was a great multitude of speeches, addresses and messages delivered to scientists, doctors, and representatives of the most varied categories of workers, some of which even today still possess an extraordinary relevance and continue to be a concrete point of reference. Paul VI, who was his faithful collaborator for many years, described him as an erudite man, an attentive scholar, open to modern means of research and culture, with an ever-strong and coherent fidelity both to the principles of human reasoning, as well as to the intangible depository of the truth of faith. He considered him a precursor of Vatican Council II (cf Angelus of 10 March, 1974). From this point of view, many of his writings deserve to be remembered, but I will limit myself to quoting from only a few. With the Encyclical "Mystici Corporis," published on 29 June 1943, while war still raged, he described the spiritual and visible relationships that unite men to the Word Incarnate, and he proposed integrating into this point of view all the principle themes of ecclesiology, offering for the first time a dogmatic and theological synthesis that would provide the basis for the Conciliar Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium."

A few months later, on 20 September 1943, with the Encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu" he laid down the doctrinal norms for the study of Sacred Scripture, highlighting its importance and role in Christian life. This is a document that bears witness to a great opening to scientific research on the Biblical texts. How can we not remember this Encyclical, during the course of the work of this Synod that has as its own theme "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church"? It is to the prophetic intuition of Pius XII that we owe the launch of a serious study of the characteristics of ancient historiography, in order to better understand the nature of the sacred books, without weakening or negating their historical value. The deeper study of the "literary genres," whose intention is to better understand what the sacred author meant, was viewed with a certain suspicion prior to 1943, in part thanks to the abuse that had been made of it.

The Encyclical recognized that it could be applied correctly, declaring its use legitimate not only for the study of the Old Testament, but also the New. "In the present day indeed this art -- explained the Pope -- which is called textual criticism and which is used with great and praiseworthy results in the editions of profane writings, is also quite rightly employed in the case of the Sacred Books, because of that very reverence which is due to the Divine Oracles." And he added: "For its very purpose is to insure that the sacred text be restored, as perfectly as possible, be purified from the corruptions due to the carelessness of the copyists and be freed, as far as may be done, from glosses and omissions, from the interchange and repetition of words and from all other kinds of mistakes, which are wont to make their way gradually into writings handed down through many centuries" (AAS, XXXV, 1943, p 336).

The third Encyclical I would like to mention is the "Mediator Dei," dedicated to the liturgy, published 20 November 1947. With this document, the Servant of God provided an impulse to the liturgical movement, insisting that "the chief element of divine worship must be interior. For -- he writes -- we must always live in Christ and give ourselves to Him completely, so that in Him, with Him and through Him the heavenly Father may be duly glorified. The sacred liturgy requires, however, that both of these elements be intimately linked with each another. ... Otherwise religion clearly amounts to mere formalism, without meaning and without content."

We cannot do other then than acknowledge the notable impulse this Pontiff gave to the Church's missionary activity with the Encyclicals "Evangelii Praecones" (1951) and "Fidei Donum" (1957), that highlighted the duty of every community to announce the Gospel to the peoples, as Vatican II would go on to do with courageous strength. Pope Pacelli had already shown this love for the missions from the outset of his Pontificate when in October 1939 he had wanted to consecrate personally twelve bishops from mission countries, including an Indian, a Chinese and a Japanese, the first African bishop and the first bishop of Madagascar. One of his constant pastoral concerns, finally, was the promotion of the role of lay people so that the ecclesial community could make use of all its possible energy and resources. For this too the Church and the world are grateful to him.

Dear brothers and sisters, while we pray that the cause of beatification of the Servant of God Pius XII may continue smoothly, it is good to remember that sanctity was his ideal, an ideal he never failed to propose to everyone. This is why he promoted the causes of beatification and canonization for persons from different peoples, representatives of all states of life, roles and professions, and granted substantial space to women. And it was Mary, the Woman of salvation, whom he offered to humanity as a sign of certain hope, proclaiming the dogma of the Assumption, during the Holy Year of 1950. In this world of ours, which, like then, is assailed by worries and anguish about its future; in this world where, perhaps more than then, the distancing of many from truth and virtue allows us to glimpse scenarios without hope, Pius XII invites us to look to Mary assumed into the glory of Heaven. He invites us to invoke her faithfully, so that she will allow us to appreciate ever more the value of life on earth and help us to look to the true aim that is the destiny of all of us: that eternal life that, as Jesus assures us, already belongs to those who hear and follow his word. Amen!

[Translation issued by the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops]


Symposium Finds "Stunning" Facts About Pius XII
Pope Says He Hopes Truth Can Be Made Known

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 - Benedict XVI says he hopes the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII this year will offer an occasion to get to the historical truth about him, overcoming prejudices that hide the facts.

The German Pontiff said this today when he spoke to an interreligious foundation that organized a symposium this week to study the life of Pius XII (1876-1958).

The Pope's address to the Pave the Way Foundation and its president, Gary Krupp, thanked the group for aiming to analyze "without bias the events of history and [concern] yourselves only with seeking the truth."

"So much has been written and said of [Pius XII] during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light," the Holy Father noted. "The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favor of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth.

"When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people."

Benedict XVI said the Pave the Way symposium offers the public forum the possibility of knowing better what Pius XII achieved for Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes.

Courageous and paternal

The symposium gathered and presented a large amount of documented material, supported by authoritative testimonies.

"In the proceedings of your convention," the Holy Father noted, "you have also drawn attention to [Pius XII's] many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them."

"It is my great hope that this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of my venerated predecessor's death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice," the Pontiff concluded.

Direct contradiction

Krupp, himself a Jew, told ZENIT that the results of the symposium were significant. He said that the Pave the Way Foundation feared that misinformation about Pius XII will "never go away" even when the Vatican Archives for the war years are opened.

"We discovered that many messages and orders were verbal and encrypted and since archival researchers seem to believe that if it wasn't written it didn't happen, that any lack of discovered documents would only spawn accusations of intentional document destruction," he said. "This is why we sought out those who are eye witnesses to papal intervention."

In his address to the Pope today, Krupp explained why the foundation took on the project of investigating Pius XII.

"Pave the Way has identified the papacy of Pope Pius XII as a source of friction and misunderstanding," he said. "Accordingly, we have undertaken an independent investigation to identify significant documents and to video-record eye witness testimony. I wish to report to you that results of this investigation [are] stunning, and directly contradict the negative perception of the Pope's wartime activities."

"This year," he continued, "for Catholics, Oct. 9, 2008, will be the commemoration the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII. For Jews that date is also significant as it is our holiest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. May this providential date usher in a new effort to correct the historical record and bring to light the truth of this papacy."


Papal Address on Pius XII Symposium
"Not All the Genuine Facets Have Been Examined In a Just Light"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 - Here is the text of Benedict XVI's address today to Gary Krupp, the president of the Pave the Way Foundation, which organized a symposium on the papacy of Pope Pius XII.

The symposium was held Monday through Wednesday.

* * *

Dear Mr Krupp,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to meet with you at the conclusion of the important symposium organized by the Pave the Way Foundation. I know that many eminent scholars have participated in this reflection on the numerous works of my beloved predecessor - the Servant of God Pope Pius XII - accomplished during the difficult period around the time of the second world war. I warmly welcome each of you especially Mr Gary Krupp, President of the Foundation, whom I thank for the kind words expressed on your behalf. I am grateful to him for informing me how your work has been undertaken during the symposium. You have analyzed without bias the events of history and concerned yourselves only with seeking the truth. I also greet those accompanying you on this visit, as well as your family members and loved ones at home.

The focus of your study has been the person and the tireless pastoral and humanitarian work of Pius XII, "Pastor Angelicus." Fifty years have passed since his pious death here at Castel Gandolfo early on the ninth of October 1958, after a debilitating disease. This anniversary provides an important opportunity to deepen our knowledge of him, to meditate on his rich teaching and to analyze thoroughly his activities. So much has been written and said of him during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light. The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favour of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people.

Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies, your symposium offers to the public forum the possibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes. One understands, then, that wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. In the proceedings of your convention you have also drawn attention to his many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them. One need only recall Pius XII's meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your visit and for the research you have undertaken. Thanks also to the Pave the Way Foundation for its ongoing activity in promoting relationships and dialogue between religions, as witnesses of peace, charity and reconciliation. It is my great hope that this year, which marks the fiftieth-anniversary of my venerated predecessor's death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice. With these sentiments I invoke upon you and the proceedings of your symposium an abundance of divine blessings.


Pave the Way Foundation's Address to Pope
Working to "End the Malevolent and the Illegal Use of Religion"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 - Here is the address Gary Krupp, president of the Pave the Way Foundation, gave today upon meeting Benedict XVI at the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

The Pope granted an audience to the participants of the congress "Examining the Papacy of Pope Pius XII," which was organized by the foundation. The three-day symposium ended Wednesday.

* * *

You Holiness, The mission of Pave the Way Foundation is to end the malevolent and the illegal use of religion. We begin this process by establishing credible and trusted relationships through our historic gestures of good will and with the identification and elimination of obstacles between the faiths.

Some examples of our projects are that we worked for over 20 years to help the equipment acquisition of the hospital of St. Padre Pio here in Italy. We worked behind the scenes to remove obstacles and to move the fundamental agreements with the Israeli government and the Holy See. We initiated the Jewish thank you to Pope John Paul II for his efforts to achieve religious reconciliation. We brought the manuscripts of Maimonides for the first time in history from the Vatican Library to the state of Israel, and in 2007, we implemented the gift to your library of the oldest manuscripts of the Gospels of St. John and St. Luke, the Bodmer papyrus.

Your Holiness, for all of these benevolent projects I wish recognize, in your presence, one who has dedicated over 20 years behind the scenes to help us to complete this vital work: Doctor Rolando Clementoni.

In the furtherance of our mission, Pave the Way has identified the papacy of Pope Pius XII as a source of friction and misunderstanding. Accordingly, we have undertaken an independent investigation to identify significant documents and to video record eyewitness testimony. I wish to report to you that results of this investigation are stunning, and directly contradict the negative perception of the Pope's wartime activities.

All of the documented material that we have gathered, including the transcript of our just completed three-day symposium, will be turned over to your pontifical institutions and to the internationally recognized Holocaust centers for further study.

Based on their review of these new materials, and in the interest of maintaining their historical integrity and accuracy, we call upon these institutions to carefully review this new information in order to redefine the current perception on this papacy.

This year, for Catholics, Oct. 9, 2008, will be the commemoration the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, for Jews that date is also significant as it is our holiest Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. May this providential date usher in a new effort to correct the historical record and bring to light the truth of this papacy.

I wish to close with a passage from a book written by Ambassador Pinchas Lapide, a former Israeli consul general in Italy, and a Jewish theologian: "No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews upon his death in 1958. Several suggested in open letters that a Pope Pius XII forest of 860,000 trees be planted on the hills of Judea in order to fittingly honor the memory of the late Pontiff, because the Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving the lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands."

You Holiness, we humbly ask you to keep the mission of Pave the Way Foundation and its vital work to end the malevolent use of religion in your prayers, and thank you for allowing us this time today.


Tornielli's Pius XII Passion

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, OCT. 18, 2007 .- Our modern media age has given us much to be skeptical about. Poorly informed scandal-mongering often seems to rule the day, and we tend to view journalists with a jaundiced eye, particularly in what often passes for Catholic journalism in the secular press, where the norm seems to be an ill-concealed and anti-magisterial position.

In the space of one week I met two remarkable Catholic journalists, one based in Ireland and one in Italy. These two men not only provide intelligent reporting and commentary on Church news, but have pursued their vocations to make lasting contributions to Catholic culture.

Andrea Tornielli hails from Venice and has been covering Vatican news for the Italian daily Il Giornale for 11 years. Surprisingly, he has avoided cynicism and maintained a refreshing buoyancy that many journalists quickly lose.

But beyond his well-informed coverage of everything from papal trips to the latest questions in the Italian bishops' conference, Tornielli has taken an interest in the case of Pope Pius XII, producing four books on the man Eugenio Pacelli, who reigned as Pontiff from 1939 to 1958.

The 1998 Berlin commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the Kristallnacht sparked Tornielli's interest in Pius XII. The Night of Broken Glass took place on Nov. 9-10, 1938, and opened the era of Jewish persecutions in Germany.

On that occasion in 1998, Yisreal Meir Lau, then chief rabbi of Israel, asked during his impassioned speech the damning question: "Pius XII, where were you? Why were you silent during the Kristallnacht?" Two Italian newspapers the next day ran that as their headline, with the subhead "The Shameful Silence of Pius XII."

The evident problem with this, Tornielli pointed out, was that Pius XII was not elected until March 1939, four months after the Kristallnacht. This event vividly demonstrated to the Italian journalist that when it came to Pius XII, anything goes. "The black legend around him had become so great that anything negative, including lies, would get newspaper space," wrote Tornielli.

Andrea spent several years investigating documents, records and Vatican archives working with Italian history professor Matteo Napolitano to learn more about this much-maligned Pope.

Tornielli came out swinging in 2001 with the 400-page book "Pio XII. Papa degli ebrei" (Pius XII: The Pope of the Jews), tackling the origins of the blackening of Pius XII's name. This was followed by "Il Papa che salvò gli Ebrei" (The Pope Who Saved the Jews), written with Napolitano.

Tornielli points out that after World War II the state of Israel officially recognized Pope Pius XII's efforts to help the Jews, and that unheard-of honors were accorded to the Pope before and after his death.

"The Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel," Andrea observed, "which refused to play Wagner, considering him Hitler's inspirational composer, asked permission to perform before Pope Pius XII. How can one imagine that they would go and play for 'Hitler's Pope'!"

Tornielli noted that a dark cloud gathered over Pius XII during the turbulent years of the Cold War as well as during the progressive movements of the late 1960s.

Yet this new anti-Pius wave was not caused by the discovery of new information regarding his papacy. In fact, no new documents had come to light since the encomium of the 1950s. And in those years, Andrea points out, "everyone knew what the Pope had said, and more importantly what he had done, during World War II."

Rolf Hochhuth's play "The Deputy" debuted in the Proletarian Theater of Berlin in 1962. Tornielli describes it as "written by a mediocre playwright, seven hours long and intended to purge the German conscience for having democratically elected Hitler."

Despite its tediousness, the play was staged in Paris and London within the year, and the world learned to condemn Pius XII for "his silence."

Tornielli points out that "The Deputy" was actively sponsored by the Soviet Union, which was intensely hostile to the Church. At the same time, many Catholic progressives saw the defamation of Pius XII as a way to divide the old Church regime from the "new Church" they expected to emerge from the Second Vatican Council.

Once Tornielli realized this, he studied the life of Pius XII even more closely, producing two more books, the most recent published this year, a 661-page biography of Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII. This work includes unpublished material from the Pacelli family archives.

Tornielli's book illustrates the continuity of the Church through the period from the first to the second half of the 20th century, as well as the extraordinary modernity of Pope Pius XII.

The journalist observed that "television has affected a great deal of how we perceive John XXIII and Pius XII." Little footage of Pius XII exists, but John XXIII was elected in the age of television. "When John XXIII brought Christmas gifts to the sick children at Bambino Gesù hospital, the televised event moved the world," he wrote.

But he adds, "When Pius XII went in 1943 to the Gregorian to visit 2,000 orphaned children and distributed gifts, no television camera was present."

Tornielli's work has uncovered documents recognizing Pius XII's early understanding of the anti-Catholic nature of the nationalist parties, as well as refreshing details about his pontificate. He reported, "After John Paul II, Pius XII canonized more women than any other Pope, and percentagewise he actually canonized the most -- at 54%."

Pius XII also continued with the topic of liturgical reform and was open to the hypothesis of evolution, which he cited in his encyclical "Humani Generis." He met and addressed all sorts of scientists from astrophysicists to plastic surgeons; reading and learning about their work to be able to discuss their work with them from a more informed position.

Last May 8, Pius XII received a proclamation of heroic virtue, the first step up the ladder of sainthood. I asked Tornielli whether he thought he would live to see Pope Pacelli canonized. He shrugged with a wry smile, "All we can do is pray." And in Tornielli's case, publish.


Catholics Resisted Nazism, Says Expert
Film on Sophie Scholl Analyzed in Congress

BARCELONA, Spain, AUG. 30, 2007 ( Catholics resisted Nazism during the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler in Germany, and if they didn't do it in a more decisive way, it was because of "a certain inferiority complex."

This is the thesis put forth by Austrian historian Martin Kugler during a conference titled "Sophie Scholl: Catholic Resistance to Nazism." The talk formed part of the 3rd International Film and Family Show, held in Tuesday in Barcelona and organized by CinemaNet.

The event focused on the 2005 German film "Sophie Scholl: The Last Days," which recounts the true story of Scholl, a 21-year-old member of the anti-Nazi, non-violent student group the White Rose.

Kugler is the founder of, a multi-confessional and socio-political movement to fight moral relativism.

The Austrian historian explained that this "Catholic inferiority complex" and "fear" are analogous to the situation of Catholics today.

On the other hand, Kugler explained that Pius XII "loved the German people" and never approved of the Nazi regime.

The historian pointed out that "in 40 out of 44 speeches of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli -- the future Pius XII -- as nuncio in Germany, there were criticisms of totalitarianism and racism."

"And if it was not more decisive when he was Pope it was because of his concern to not cause a greater persecution of Catholics, given the fact that there had been experiences of this kind," affirmed Kugler.

In light of this, "to say that he was anti-Semitic and in favor of Hitler is ridiculous," he affirmed, saying that the Holy See's diplomacy saved at least 700,000 Jews from the Holocaust during the Second World War.

"In the years after the world war the actions of the Church and the Pope in favor of the Jews was seen as very positive," he added.

In the span of nine months, the group White Rose wrote and distributed six leaflets against Hitler's Nazi Germany.

On Feb. 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, together with her brother and another member, were accused of spreading anti-Nazi propaganda and were condemned to death.

In the following days, other students were accused of the same charge, and then executed or imprisoned.


Did Hitler try to kidnap the pope?

It was a Nazi plot that kept the pontiff from condemning the Holocaust, a new book argues

BRIAN BETHUNE | July 30, 2007 |

Did he do all that he could have done, all that he should have done? Controversy over the conduct of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust has raged for over 40 years. Pius's once sterling reputation for having done what he could behind the scenes for persecuted Jews first came under sustained attack in 1963, when Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy cast his failure to publicly denounce the Nazi genocide in an anti-Semitic light. The bitter debate has never really stopped since, fuelled by Pius's ongoing canonization process: by last March the man who ruled the Roman Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958 was only a small step removed from beatified status, the last rung before full sainthood. Even those, Jewish and Catholic alike, who might otherwise contemplate letting past tragedies go gently into the history books, are unwilling to ignore the present-day sanctification of a man about whose motives and actions so much uncertainty swirls.

One key issue concerns the practical value of public denunciation, especially weighed against possible repercussions. What would have happened, for example, if Pius had excommunicated Hitler, a baptized Catholic? Would German Catholics have stopped the entire genocide machine in its tracks, or would open enmity have simply caused the Nazis to turn their murderous impulses on the Vatican or on Catholics in general, while doing nothing for Jews? That's where A Special Mission (Perseus) by American journalist Dan Kurzman, the first serious investigation of Hitler's little-known plan to kidnap Pius in order to keep him quiet about the Final Solution, brings a new twist to the story.

Pius the Vicar of Christ and Hitler the Antichrist loathed and feared one another as rival claimants for Europe's hearts and souls, says Kurzman. Stalin may cynically have asked of another pope, "How many divisions does he have?", but Hitler knew 40 per cent of his army was Catholic and that a 10th of the elite SS had refused to abandon the faith despite strong Nazi party pressure. Pius, for his part, was aware of the depth of anti-Semitism that cut across German society and that nationalism had long trumped religion in Europe. Had not Catholics on both sides of the Western Front dutifully mown down their co-religionists by the millions in the previous world war? Neither leader wanted to issue a command that might backfire. Hitler, when not in a rage, feared creating a martyr; Pius, whose overriding concern was piloting his Church safely through the maelstrom, was wary of provoking a violent psychopath.

The standoff turned acute when the fall of Fascist Italy removed the last buffer between the two men in the summer of 1943. Hitler sent German troops into Rome and ordered SS Gen. Karl Wolff to kidnap Pius, lest the sight -- "under his own window," in one German diplomat's words -- of Rome's Jews being rounded up for Auschwitz finally drive the pope to open protest. It's worth noting the threat went far beyond the personal -- Wolff's orders included executing the papal court and looting the Vatican. According to Kurzman, who had extensive conversations with Wolff before the general's death in 1984, and with others who knew of the plan, Wolff had no desire to stick his head in a post-war noose by laying violent hands on a pope. Instead he made his mission plain to Vatican officials, and relied on the mere threat of it to force silence, while using that silence to convince Hitler no further action was required.

Despite Kurzman's insistence that the kidnap plot was a vital factor in Pius's decisions, it's difficult to evaluate its importance. In the event, Pius never did directly denounce the Holocaust, but he and his city escaped the war largely unscathed, with Rome's monasteries and convents (and the papal summer home of Castel Gandolfo) stuffed with Jewish refugees. Six decades later, the thousand-year Reich is history, and the Roman Catholic Church is a going concern.

That leads directly to the other core issue in the debate: did Pius have an obligation to speak out, whatever the consequences to himself or his flock? Popes have two jobs, according to historian José Sánchez, author of Pius XII and the Holocaust: their ancient responsibility of caring for the Church and their role in "the popular mind" -- of being a moral conscience for mankind. But the second role, Sánchez says, is a modern development. "Pius would scarcely have recognized it, and it certainly wouldn't have been his priority. And it wasn't possible, within the constraints of the war, to have done both."


Cardinal Bertone on Pius XII

"The Victim of a 'Black Legend'"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the first part of a speech given today by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone at the presentation of a book by Andrea Tornielli, "Pio XII: Un Uomo Sul Trono di Pietro" (Pius XII: A Man on the Throne of Peter).

Parts 2 and 3 of the speech will be published on Wednesday and Thursday.

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1. The "Black Legend"

For decades now the figure of Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, has been at the center of some volatile polemics. The Roman Pontiff who guided the Church through the terrible years of the Second World War and the Cold War is the victim of a "black legend," which has proved difficult to combat even though the documents and testimonies have amply shown its complete inconsistency.

One of the unpleasant "secondary" consequences, so to speak, of this black legend -- that falsely portrays Pope Pacelli as indulgent toward Nazism and indifferent to the fate of the victims of persecution -- has been to sideline the extraordinary teaching of this Pope who was a precursor of Vatican II.

As has happened with the figures of two other Popes of the same name -- Blessed Pius IX, who is discussed only in relation to topics linked to the politics of the Risorgimento, and St. Pius X, often only remembered for his strenuous battle against modernism -- there is the risk that the pontificate of Pacelli will be reduced to his supposed "silences."

2. The Pastoral Activity of Pius XII

I am here this evening, therefore, to give a brief testimony to a man of the Church, who, by his personal holiness, shines as a luminous witness of the Catholic priesthood and of the papacy.

It is not as though I have not already read many interesting essays on the figure and work of Pope Pius XII, from the well-known "Actes et Documents du Saint Siège," to the brief biographies of Nazareno Padellaro, Sister Marchione, and Father Pierre Blet, among the first ones that come to mind.

There are also the "wartime addresses" of Pope Pacelli, which, if you would like to read them, are available in an electronic format. Even today I find these speeches quite interesting for their doctrine, pastoral inspiration, literary sophistication; they are perforce human and civil.

All in all, I already knew not a little about the man called the "Pastor Angelicus" and "Defensor Civitatis." We must nevertheless be grateful to Dr. Tornielli who, in this massive and well-documented biography, drawing from much unpublished material, restores for us the greatness and completeness of the figure of Pius XII.

He allows us to delve into his humanity, he allows us to rediscover his teaching. He brings again to our minds, for example, his encyclical on the liturgy, his reform of the rites of Holy Week, the great preparatory work that would flow into the conciliar liturgical reform.

Pius XII opened up the application of the historical-critical method to sacred Scriptures, and in the encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu," established the doctrinal norms for the study of sacred Scripture, emphasizing the importance of its role in Christian life.

It is the same Pope Pacelli who, in the encyclical "Humani Generis," takes evolutionary theory into consideration, albeit with care. Pius XII also gave notable impetus to missionary activity with the encyclicals "Evangelii Praecones," 1951, and "Fidei Donum," 1957 -- this year is its 50th anniversary -- highlighting the Church's duty to proclaim the Gospel to the nations, as Vatican II would amply reaffirm.

The Pope refused to identify Christianity with Western culture or with a particular political system. There is more. Pius XII is still the Pope who gave the most room to women in his canonizations and beatifications: 54.4% of canonizations and 62.5% of beatifications.

Indeed, this Pontiff spoke often about women's rights, affirming, in a 1957 radio message to a congress of the Italian Center for Women, for example, that women are called to "resolute action" even in the political and judiciary fields.

3. Unjust Accusations

These are only examples that show how much there is to discover, or rather, to rediscover, in the teaching of the Servant of God Eugenio Pacelli.

I was struck by the many allusions present in Tornielli's book, from which emerge both the lucidity and the wisdom of the future Pontiff in the years that he was papal nuncio, first in Munich and then in Berlin, along with many traits of his humanity.

Thanks to the unedited correspondence with his brother Francesco, we are made aware of some clear judgments that he made on the nascent National Socialist movement and the great and grave interior drama he lived as Pope in regard to the attitude to maintain in the face of the Nazi persecution during the war.

Pius XII spoke of it several times in the course of his radio messages -- and so it is completely out of place to speak of his "silences" -- choosing a prudent approach. In regard to the "silences," I happily advert to a well-documented article of professor Gian Maria Vian entitled "Il Silenzio Pio XII: alle origini della leggenda nera" (The Silence of Pius XII: At the Origins of the Black Legend), which was published in 2004 in the journal Archivum Historiae Pontificiae.

In this article Vian says, among other things, that the first to ask about the "silences of Pius XII" was the French Catholic philosopher Emmanuel Mounier in 1939, just a few weeks after the election of the Supreme Pontiff and in relation to Italian aggression in Albania.

A bitter polemic, of Soviet and communist origin -- and, as we shall see, revived by certain exponents of the Russian Orthodox Church -- grafted itself onto these questions. Rolf Hochhuth, author of "The Deputy," the play that contributed to the creation of the black legend against Pius XII, has in a recent interview defined Pope Pacelli as a "demonic wimp," while there are historians who only promote anti-Pius XII research and even call those who do not think as they do and dare to propose a different view on these matters "The Pacelli Brigade."

It is impossible not to denounce this attack on good sense and reason that is often perpetrated on the pages of the newspapers.

4. A Very Precise Historical Period

It seems useful to me to underscore how Tornielli's book calls our attention again to some things already known by serious historians. I think that this is one of the valuable points about the volume that we are discussing here: It takes account of the difficult times in which Pope Pacelli lived, the Pope whose voice did not enjoy the favor of the powers that be during World War II or during the succeeding period in which the opposing political blocs faced off against each other. How many times did Vatican Radio "not have the requisite electricity" to make the Pontiff's voice heard; how many times was there "a scarcity of paper" to reproduce his thoughts and uncomfortable teachings; how many times did some accident cause issues of L'Osservatore Romano to be "lost," -- issues that carried clarifications, updates, political notes ...

Nevertheless, today, thanks to modern means, those sources have been amply reproduced and been made available. Dr. Tornielli has sought them out and found them and the great body of notes in his book is a testimony to them.

At this moment I would like to draw your attention to an important period. The figure and work of Pius XII, praised and thanked before, during and immediately after World War II, began to be scrutinized by different eyes during a very precise historical period, from August 1946 to October 1948. After "the persecutions of a fanatical anti-Semitism that were unleashed against the Jewish people" [Allocution of August 3, 1946], the desire of the tortured people of Israel to have their own country, their own secure refuge, was understandable.

But it was equally understandable that those people who already lived in Palestine also had rights and expected respect, attention, justice and protection. The newspapers of the times provided ample coverage of the tension that was beginning to manifest itself in that region, but because they did not wish to consider the reasoning and proposals of Pius XII, they began to take positions some on one side, some on another, and thereby transformed the Pope's reflection -- that was attentive to the criteria of justice, equity, respect, and legality and developed in an articulate way -- into ideology.

Pius XII was not only the Pope of the Second World War, but a pastor who, from March 2, 1939, to October 9, 1958, had before him a world in thrall to violent and irrational passions. From that moment forward, there began to take shape an incomprehensible accusation against the Pope, namely, that he did not intervene as he should have on behalf of the persecuted Jewish people.

In this connection it seems to me important to recognize that, in any case, those who are free of ideological designs and are lovers of the truth, are well disposed to more deeply understand, in complete sincerity, a long, fruitful, and to my mind heroic, papacy. An example of this is the recent change of attitude at the great sanctuary that is Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to reconsider the figure and work of Pope Pacelli, not from a polemical perspective but from a historically objective angle. It is a fervent wish that such publicly manifested goodwill will have an adequate follow-up.

5. The Duty of Charity Toward All

June 2, 1943, on the occasion of the feast of St. Eugene, Pius XII publicly expounded the reasons for his attitude. First of all, Pope Pacelli speaks again of the Jewish people: "The rulers of nations must not forget that he who 'carries the sword' -- to use the language of sacred Scripture -- cannot decide the life and death of men except in accord with the law of God, from whom all authority comes."

"You cannot expect us," Pius XII continues, "here to recount point for point all that we have tried to procure and accomplish to mitigate their sufferings, to better their moral and juridical condition, to safeguard their inalienable religious rights, to bring help in their sufferings and necessities. Every word to this end that we addressed to the competent authorities as well as each of our public allusions had to be weighed and measured by us in the very interest of those who were suffering, so that we should not unwittingly make their situation more grave and unbearable. Unfortunately, the visibly obtained improvements do not correspond to the maternal solicitude of the Church on behalf of these particular groups that are subjected to the most bitter misfortunes, and the Vicar, [who] asking only for compassion and a return to elementary norms of law and humanity, has found himself, at times, before doors that no key could open."

Here, in the middle of 1943, we find revealed the reason for the prudence with which Pacelli conducted himself in public denouncements: "in the very interest of those who were suffering, so that we should not unwittingly make their situation more grave and unbearable."

These are words that to me seem to be echoed in the brief address given by Paul VI on Septempber 12, 1964, at the catacombs of Santa Domitilla. On that occasion Pope Montini said: "The Holy See abstains from more frequently and vehemently raising its legitimate voice in protest and outrage, not because it ignores or neglects the reality of what is happening, but out of Christian patience and so as not to provoke worse evils."

In the middle of the 1960s, Paul VI was referring to the countries behind the Iron Curtain, governed by totalitarian communism. He, who was a close collaborator of Cardinal Pacelli and of Pope Pius XII, thus adduces the same reasons.

Popes do not speak with the idea of pre-constituting a favorable image for future ages. They know that the fate of millions of Christians can at times depend on their every word; they have at heart the fate of men and women of flesh and blood, not the applause of historians.

Robert Kempner, a Jewish lawyer and public official at the Nuremberg trials, wrote in 1964, after the appearance of Hochhuth's "The Deputy": "Any propagandistic position that the Church would have taken against Hitler's government would have not only provoked suicide ... but it would have hastened the execution of still more Jews and priests."

6. "Action, Not Lamentation, is the Precept of the Hour"

Having said this, after having looked at the 11 volumes -- in 12 tomes -- of the "Actes et Documents du Saint Siège" that cover the Second World War, after having read dozens of folders with hundreds of documents on the thoughts and actions of the Apostolic See during that conflict, one gets a taste of the violent and biased polemics -- countless volumes, full of violent and false ideology.

I think that the "Actes," printed by order of Paul VI -- who served as undersecretary of state in the terrible period of 1939-1945, could be usefully completed by the documents that fall under the archival heading of "Ecclesiastical States," which include documents regarding the obligation of the Holy See and the Catholic Church to take charge of the duty of charity toward all.

It is an area of the archive that has not been sufficiently explored, given that we are dealing here with thousands of personal cases. The smallest state in the world, neutral in the absolute sense, listened to each one individually, acknowledging every voice that asked for help or an audience. Unfortunately, this documentation is unavailable because it is not organized.

It would be nice if, with the help of some charitable foundation, these documents conserved by the archives of the Holy See could be catalogued in a short period of time! The directive that Pope Pius XII gave in 1942 on the radio, in the press, and through diplomatic channels was clear. In the tragic year of 1942 he told everyone: "Action, not lamentation, is the precept of the hour."

The wisdom of this affirmation is testified to by a myriad of documents: diplomatic notes, urgent consistories, specific instructions -- to Cardinal Bertram, to Cardinal Schuster, etc., etc., etc. -- to do what was possible to save people, preserving the neutrality of the Holy See.

This neutrality allowed the Pope to save not only Europeans but other prisoners as well. I am thinking of the awful situation in Poland and the humanitarian interventions in Southeast Asia. Pius XII never signed circulars or proclamations. His instructions were given verbally. And bishops, priests, religious, and lay people all understood what had to be done. The countless audience papers with the comments of Cardinals Maglione and Tardini, among other things, were testimony to this. Then the protests or the rejections of the Holy See's humanitarian requests would arrive.

7. Denounce or Act?

Allow me to recount a little episode that took place in the Vatican in October 1943. At the time, besides the Papal Gendarmes -- about 150 persons -- and the Swiss Guard -- about 110 persons -- there was also the Palatine Guard. To protect the 300 or so people of the Vatican and its extraterritorial properties then, there were 575 Palatine Guards. Well, the secretary of state asked the occupying power if the Palatine Guard could enlist another 4,425 people. The Jewish ghetto was nearby …

The editors of "Actes et Documents" could not print all the thousands of personal cases. The Pope, at the time, had other priorities: He could not make his "wishes" known but wanted to act, within the limits imposed by the circumstances, according to his clear program.

For honest people some legitimate questions arise: When did Pius XII meet with Mussolini? He met him in 1932 as cardinal secretary of state but as Pope, never! When did Cardinal Pacelli meet with Hitler? Never! When did the Pope meet with Mussolini and Hitler together? Never! If that never happened, if two states did not consider talking with the Pope, what should the Pontiff himself do: denounce through declarations or act?

Pius XII chose the second course, which is testified to by many Jewish sources throughout Europe. Perhaps we should provide a copy of these abundant expressions of gratitude and esteem by Jews for the human and spiritual ministry of this great Pope. The book, which we can read today, adds another plug not only for the figure of a great Pontiff, but also for the whole silent but effective work of the Church during the life of a shepherd that passed through the storms of two world conflicts -- Pacelli was nuncio to Bavaria from 1917 -- and the tragic construction of the Iron Curtain, behind which millions of children of God lost their lives. Heir to the Church of the Apostles, the Church of Pius XII continued to work not only by means of a prophetic word but above all by means of daily prophetic action.

8. Concluding Note

In conclusion, I would like to thank Andrea Tornielli for this book, which contributes to a better understanding of the luminous apostolic action of the figure of the Servant of God Pius XII.

This is a useful service to the Church, a useful service of truth. It is right to discuss, delve into, debate, confront. But it is important that one guard oneself against the gravest error of the historian, that is, anachronism, judging the reality of that time with the eyes and mentality of today.

How profoundly unjust it is to judge the work of Pius XII during the war with the veil of prejudice, forgetting not only the historical context but also the enormous work of charity that the Pope promoted, opening the doors of seminaries and religious institutes, welcoming refugees and persecuted people, helping all.


Vatican tried to recruit Jewish guards to save them

The Vatican under Pope Pius XII tried to save Jews in many ways during World War II, including enlisting Jewish men as guards for its security forces, Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone claims.

The Washington Post quotes Cardinal Bertone as rejecting charges that wartime Pope Pius XII was anti-Semitic, saying that the Vatican tried to enroll Roman Jewish men in its security forces in 1943 in order to save them from the Nazis.

Cardinal Bertone made his comments at the presentation of a new book about Pius by Italian author Andrea Tornielli.

Bertone called accusations that Pius turned a blind eye to the Holocaust "a black legend" and re-stated the Vatican's position that he worked behind the scenes to help save Jews.

Bertone said that in October 1943, the Vatican asked the German occupiers for permission to take on some 1,425 more men for a police force called the Palatine Guard, since disbanded, which patrolled the Vatican and Church-owned buildings in Rome.

Holding up still classified Vatican documents, he said this was an attempt to get Jews into the force to protect them. But German occupiers and their Italian Fascist allies wanted the men's names, date of birth and race.

"Our people said 'no'," he said.

He gave no further details, but that same month Nazi forces rounded up Jews from the Rome neighborhood known as The Ghetto. More than 1,000 were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz but hundreds of others were hidden by Italian Catholic families.

One Jewish historian was puzzled by Bertone's remarks.

"If the Vatican has documents, let's see them," said Marcello Pezzetti, an expert on Rome Jewish history. "These are such serious topics that more precise language should be used. Vague language does not help anyone."

Some Jews have accused Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, of being indifferent to the Holocaust and not speaking out against Hitler. His supporters consider him a holy man who worked behind the scenes to help Jews throughout Europe.

But the Vatican maintains Pius did not speak out more forcefully against the Holocaust because he was afraid of provoking Nazi reprisals and worsening the fate of Catholics and Jews.

"It is out of place to accuse him of 'silence'," Bertone said, adding that Pius "chose a prudent profile" and acted "within the limits of circumstances imposed on him."

According to Catholic Online, Cardinal Bertone added that Pope Pius explained this policy of discretion when he spoke of the Jews in a public address in 1943, saying that people should not expect him to divulge "all we have attempted and achieved to mitigate their suffering, improve their moral and juridical conditions, (and) protect their indispensable religious rights."


 Here is an adapted version of a letter to the editors received by ZENIT from Sister Margherita Marchione, a Pius XII scholar. NEW YORK, MAY 30, 2007

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On May 8, members of the Congregation for Saints' Causes voted unanimously to recommend that Benedict XVI formerly declare Pope Pius XII "Venerable." Hopefully this recognition that Pius XII lived the Christian virtues in a heroic manner will bring an end to the controversy over whether he did enough in defense of the Jews and other victims of the Nazis. The 30 cardinals and bishops -- from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Japan, and the USA -- studied six volumes of documents comprising more than 3,000 pages.

However, soon after the announcement, Abraham Foxman, national Anti-Defamation League director and a Holocaust survivor, urged Benedict XVI to suspend the action taken by the congregation regarding Pius XII's "heroic virtues" until all Pius XII documents in the Vatican Archives are made available.

Ever since the death of Pius XII in 1958, every Pope from John XXIII to Benedict XVI noted his sanctity. In fact, in his first Christmas message, John XXIII said his predecessor was worthy of canonization and called him "Supreme doctor, light of holy mother Church, lover of the divine law."

Pope John Paul II at the start of his 1987 visit to the United States, defended Pius XII during a meeting with Jewish leaders, recalling "how deeply he felt about the tragedy of the Jewish people, and how hard and effectively he worked to assist them during the Second World War."

It was Pius XII who authorized false baptismal certificates to save Jewish lives. He also distributed visas for Jews to enter other countries, and ordered the superiors of convents and monasteries to open their doors and hide Jews and other victims of the Nazis and Fascists. Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII), who also distributed many certificates, stated that all he was doing was following the Pope's directives.

Almost 50 years have passed since Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, then apostolic nuncio in Istanbul, wrote in his diary about an audience with Pius XII on Oct. 10, 1941. He declared that the Pope's statements were "prudent."

It is interesting to note that when news of Pius XII's death on Oct. 9, 1958, was flashed around the world, an editorial, "Fighter for Peace," in the Los Angeles Examiner expressed the sentiments of Catholics and non-Catholics, and declared that this "Fighter for Peace" was the "Pope of Peace." Of those mourning the Pope's death, Jews -- who credited him with being one of their greatest benefactors -- were in the forefront.

Did Pius XII help the Jews? Indeed he did. Nor can one claim he was "silent."

Rather one must speak of his "prudence." In his Christmas radio messages of '41, '42, and '43 following this audience, Pius XII denounced theories that attribute rights to "a particular race." He revealed that "hundreds of thousands of people, through no fault of theirs, sometimes only because of nationality or race, were destined to die."


Who does not want the beatification of Pius XII?
Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Fr Peter Gumpel, SJ, relator for the cause of Pius XII.

WLODZIMIERZ REDZIOCH: - At what phase of development is the cause for Pius XII?

FR PETER GUMPEL, SJ: - The process of beautification of Pius XII is going on in the normal course of events. Meetings of historians and theologians have already been held. On 8 May, the ordinary session of cardinals and bishops, members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, took place. All the participants of that important meeting evaluated the presented documentation in a positive way. I would like to explain that at every session the above-mentioned group discussed the subject of the so-called 'positio', which has six volumes (with 3,000 pages!) and which concerns the candidate for the altars. This is a scientific work. I oversaw the preparation of the work, having many collaborators from various countries of Europe and America.

- What is the next phase of the process?

- The positive results of the above mentioned meetings will be submitted to Benedict XVI for his approval. If the Holy Father gives a positive opinion we can begin analysing the supposed miracles, which are ascribed to the intercession of Pius XII.

- In recent weeks world media have again taken up the subject of Pius XII because of the gesture of the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel Archbishop Antonio Franco who did not want to participate in the Holocaust Remembrance event in the National Museum of Yad Vashem. The reason of the ostentatious action of the Nuncio was the text under the photo of the Pope in the museum. What is the content of this inscription?

- In 2005, the Museum of Yad Vashem exhibited a large photograph of Pius XII with a text that has offensive statements and shows the Pope in a negative way. As a historian I can state that every clause of the text false and insults the Catholic Church. The Apostolic Nuncio, who had been invited to the annual ceremony commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, was right, informing the management of the museum in an unofficial way that it would be hard for him to take part in the event because of the photo of Pius XII and the negative statements in the inscription.

- It is worth adding that it was Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the former representative of the Apostolic See to Israel that asked competent Israeli authorities to change the offensive exhibit.

- That's right. But his intervention failed. Coming back to the situation I would like to say that the management of the museum was very disloyal, giving the private nuncio's letter to the press. Thus the nuncio was forced to explain publicly why it would be hard for him to participate in the ceremony held in Yad Vashem. Because of the movement of the representative of the Apostolic See the museum management wrote a letter to him, stating that they were ready to re-examine the text, and they invited him to discuss the protest letter. The letter of the management made the nuncio change his opinion. It is worth knowing that Abraham Foxman, chief of the American Jews' organisation 'Anti-Defamation League', claimed that the opinion on Pius XII expressed in the inscription placed under the photo was inappropriate and too radical and therefore, he understood the reaction of the nuncio.

- The 'defence' of the nuncio by the man who is famous for his hostile attitude towards the Church and Christianity is very significant...

- It is indeed. Foxman's attitude towards Pius XII and the Catholic Church has always been critical. It is meaningful that it was him that made such an announcement. However, Foxman is not the only person who defends the Pope. Recently the Nuncio referred to Martin Gilbert, British Jew, one of the most outstanding contemporary historians, who wrote an official biography of Winston Church, which was ordered by the government. Having made long-term studies in the Jewish archives Gilbert decidedly defends Pius XII, stating that what the Pope did was right and was the only possible thing in that situation. Thus he absolutely rejected the content of the inscription concerning Pius XII in Yad Vashem. Michael Burleigh, another famous British historian, shares the same opinion. But much earlier Robert M.W. Kempner, deputy U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials (note that he was a Jew of German background), openly claimed that any public protest of Pius XII would have evoked opposite reaction and at the same time would have made the Pope unable to help the Jews. Here, in Rome, numerous Jews' testimonies defended the Pope.

- I would like to ask a question I could not wait to get it out: What are the interests of some influential Jewish groups and the Israeli authorities to continue this ruthless slandering of Pius XII and the Catholic Church as far as their politics during World War II is concerned?

- That's right. Certain Jewish circles stubbornly reject the arguments presented by Catholic, Protestant and Jewish environments that contradict their bias theses. Unfortunately, some Jews feel aversion to the Catholic Church and Christianity in general. There are also Orthodox Jews who share our anxiety. Recently I have met one of the Orthodox Jewish leaders in the USA and Canada (representing ca. 800 rabbis) twice and he gave me a very important written declaration. It states that Orthodox Jews do not agree with the fellow believers who meddle in the internal affairs of the Catholic Church.
We must explain that the cause for Pius XII is not the only one; prejudices against the Catholic Church appeared earlier and were connected with the processes of beautification of Pius IX, Edith Stein, Cardinal Clemens August von Galen or Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac.

- The same hostile reactions were against the cause for Cardinal August Hlond...

- I think that the Catholic Church must carry out all necessary historical research and say openly what was wrong. We did our best to improve our relationships with Jews but the other party must do the same. Unfortunately, the facts, for example the offensive text under the photo of Pius XII in Yad Vashem, do not certainly help to bring better understanding.

- Is there a chance that these impartial and objective Jews you mentioned will be able to convince others to show less hostile attitudes towards the Catholic Church?

- We can notice certain change in the tendency of the public opinion in the United States. Two years ago the book entitled 'The Pius War' was published there and the book contained 12 studies by various rabbis who defended Pius XII. Rabbi David Dalin also wrote a book that is very favourable for the Pope. There are many similar facts that make the American public opinion ask the question: were we misled about the criticism of Pius XII? What is the truth? Many people phone me and ask to explain them these controversial issues. This is a good sign since for many years those who criticised Pius XII had free access to media and big advertisements whereas those who refuted the accusation could not find a publisher.

- How can you explain such an attitude of the media?

- A considerable part of international media is in hands of those who are hostile towards the Catholic Church. Therefore, we should harbour no illusions about it. We should cherish hope that at least the Catholic media and Catholics themselves will decidedly react against groundless accusation. If we cannot accuse ourselves of anything why do we keep silence? Naturally, everyone is afraid of the label 'anti-Semitic' but that should not prevent us from telling the truth! If I had found even one 'doubtful' thing concerning Pius XII during my long research I would not have written 'positio'. After long research conducted together with international scholars I have reached the conclusion that Pius XII deserves to be called blessed.


Book Shows Pius XII Wasn't Silent
History Doesn't Coincide With Black Legend, Says Author

ROME, MAY 22, 2007 ( The black legend about Pope Pius XII is so widespread that many consider it to be more true than the actual historical facts, says papal biographer Andrea Tornielli.

Tornielli's latest book, "Pio XII, Un Uomo Sul Trono di Pietro" (Pius XII: A Man on the Throne of Peter)," hit the bookshelves in Italy today. Tornielli is a noted Vatican journalist with the Milan-based newspaper Il Giornale.

Speaking with ZENIT, Tornielli denounced "the arbitrary diminishment of the figure of Pius XII."

That Pope has been "crushed under criticisms about the Holocaust and his 'silence,'" Tornielli said.

The 661-page book is a biography of the Roman-born Pope, and is based on never before seen documentation from the private archives of the Pacelli family, and eyewitness accounts recorded in the acts of his beatification cause.

Contrary to the Pius XII presented by his opponents as the "Pope of silence," a different Pius XII emerges from the pages of Tornielli's book.

"One of the major sources of my work," Tornielli explained, "was the letters Pacelli wrote to his family, in particular to his brother Francesco. While he was the nuncio in Germany, Pacelli collaborated with Pope Pius XI to create the Lateran Pacts.

"From these never before seen papers we can see Pius XII's concern about the birth of Nazism and about its strong anti-Christian nationalism."

"But other aspects also emerge -- much more personal ones -- like his desire not to become a cardinal so he could dedicate himself fully to pastoral ministry," he continued. "Here we see that Pacelli, as nuncio, cardinal and then Pope, was always a priest at heart, a true priest."

"The campaign against Pius XII was started in the Soviet Union and was then sustained in Catholic environments," Tornielli concluded. "Slowly the truth is emerging about the accusations of silence."


ADL urges Pope to suspend Pius sainthood

Anti-Defamation League urging the suspension of the sainthood process for Pope Pius XII, whom critics accuse of turning blind eye to death of Jews during World War Two

The Anti-Defamation League urged Pope Benedict on Thursday to suspend the sainthood process for Pope Pius XII, whom critics accuse of turning a blind eye to the death of Jews during World War Two.

The ADL, a US-based group against anti-Semitism, said the process should stop until secret World War Two Vatican archives are declassified and fully examined "so that the full record of the Pope's actions during the Holocaust may finally be known."

The Vatican's saint-making Congregation has voted in favor of a decree recognizing Pius' "heroic virtues," a major hurdle in a long process toward sainthood that began in 1967.
"We urge Pope Benedict XVI to suspend the sainthood process for Pope Pius XII for the sake of historical truth and the deepening friendship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people," said Abraham Foxman, the league's national director and a Holocaust survivor.
"While we understand that the process of sainthood is an internal matter for the Church, the issue of what Pius XII did or did not do to help save Jews during the Holocaust is a profound question that must be resolved first for the sake of the Jewish-Catholic relationship," he said in a statement.

Access to documents

According to the Vatican Web site, it is up to the Pope to decide the "liberalisation" of access to documents on the basis of an entire papacy. Documents have been "liberalised" up until - and including - the papacy of Pius XI, which ended in 1939. If the documents are "liberalised," only scholars are granted access to the papers.
If German-born Pope Benedict approves the Congregation decree, as expected, Pius XII would be officially given the title "Venerable." The Vatican would then move toward beatification by looking for miraclesperformedbythe late Pope.
The pontificate of Pius has been one of the trickiest problems in postwar Roman Catholic-Jewish relations.
Jewish groups have accused Pius of being indifferent to the Holocaust and diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Israel were briefly tested last month over a depiction of him at a state Holocaust memorial in Israel.
Before being elected Pope in 1939, Pius XII was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli. He served as the Vatican's ambassador to Germany in 1917-1929 and was Vatican secretary of state in 1930-1939. Pius died in 1958.
The Vatican maintains that Pius did not speak out against the Holocaust more forcefully because he was afraid of worsening the fate of Catholics and Jews and worked behind the scenes to save Jews.
Jewish groups have pressed the Vatican for years to either freeze the sainthood process of Pius XII or shelve it altogether for fears that it would harm Catholic-Jewish relations.
Sainthood congregation recommends Pope Pius XII be named venerable


Pius XII as Venerable
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Members of the Congregation for Saints' Causes met May 8 to consider the cause of Pope Pius XII and apparently voted to recommend that Pope Benedict XVI formally declare him venerable.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the congregation had met, but since the result of the vote still had to be presented to the pope he would not say May 9 what the result was.

Italian newspapers, citing unnamed sources, said the congregation's cardinals and archbishops recommended that Pope Benedict formally recognize that Pope Pius lived the Christian virtues in a heroic manner.

Once the pope issues a decree recognizing heroic virtues, the candidate is referred to as venerable. Before a candidate can be beatified, the pope also must issue a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession. A second miracle is needed for canonization.

The newspaper Corriere della Sera reported May 9 that a minority of the congregation members had voted "no," urging Pope Benedict to delay issuing a decree until there is "a more favorable climate," particularly regarding the ongoing controversy over Pope Pius' actions during World War II.

However, a Vatican source told Catholic News Service in Rome May 9 that the congregation's vote was unanimously in favor of issuing the decree.

Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, the promoter of Pope Pius' cause, was out of town May 9 and unavailable for comment.

Pope Pius led the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958; immediately before his election, the then-Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was the Vatican secretary of state.

For years, controversy has raged over whether Pope Pius did and said enough in defense of the Jews and other victims of the Nazis.

The May 8 vote of the congregation members was based on a review of a six-volume, 3,000-page "positio" or position paper prepared by the promoters of Pope Pius' sainthood cause. The report, given to the Vatican in 2004, included sworn testimony from witnesses, historical documents and a review of literature -- both neutral and negative -- pertaining to the Vatican's actions during World War II.


More Testimonies Defend Pius XII
Corroborate Cardinal Bertone's Citation of '43 Letter

ROME, APRIL 25, 2007 ( Many past testimonies support Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's announcement that Pope Pius XII signed a letter in 1943 asking religious institutes to open their doors to persecuted Jews.

That wartime letter undercuts the theory that bishops, religious and many Catholics who risked their lives to save Jews from extermination did so without the Pope's knowledge.

Even before Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone's statement, many testimonies had been published corroborating the information.

According to these testimonies, some of which ZENIT is summarizing here, the assistance project organized by the Catholic Church to save persecuted Jews was directly ordered by Pius XII.

Get organized

Monsignor Aldo Brunacci, the canon of Assisi, said in various interviews that "on the third Thursday of September 1943, after the usual monthly reunion of the clergy that had taken up residence in the diocesan seminary, the bishop called me aside to the room in front of the chapel and showed me a letter from the secretary of state and told me: 'We must get organized to come to the aid of all the persecuted people and especially the Jews. This is the will of the Holy Father Pius XII. This all must be done with the greatest caution and prudence. Nobody, not even the priests, must know about this.'"

Monsignor Brunacci added that he saw the letter sent by the Vatican Secretariat of State.

The monsignor and Bishop Giuseppe Placido Nicolini of Assisi were recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by the Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to Holocaust victims.

Available for you

The testimony of Emilio Viterbi of the University of Padua, a Jewish refugee in Assisi, was released on Jan. 6, 1947. It confirms Pius XII's involvement in the rescue of Jews by religious institutes.

In the 1990s, on the occasion of Bishop Nicolini's 70th birthday, Viterbi said that many episodes "could be mentioned to illustrate the tireless and holy humanitarian actions that the Assisi clergy did for the persecuted Jews under the noble guidance of Bishop Placido Nicolini, who with the greatest love and highest zeal had thus followed the philanthropic will of the Holy Father."

Viterbi added: "During the last period of German occupation, his diocese had become an asylum for many refugees and persecuted persons. Nonetheless when I went to him to ask him, in a case of extreme need, if they could welcome me with my family, he -- with great simplicity and a loving smile -- answered: 'Only my bedroom and my study are free, however, I can sleep in the latter. The bedroom is available for you.'"

The dear refugees

A similar story is told by Sister Ferdinanda Corsetti of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambéry in Rome. The religious revealed that "it was the Holy Father, Pius XII, who ordered us to open our doors to all the persecuted. If we hadn't received the order from the Pope, it would have been impossible to save so many people."

On March 17, 1998, Sister Ferdinanda was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli Embassy in Rome, for having contributed in saving so many Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome.

On that occasion, to confirm Pius XII's intentions, Sister Ferdinanda displayed a letter from the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Luigi Maglione, sent to the Mother Superior on Jan. 17, 1944.

In the letter, the secretary of state, on behalf of Pius XII and in reference to the many Jews hidden at the institute, wrote that he wished for "these chosen sons and daughters such ineffable recompense from divine mercy, so that, shortening the days of such great suffering, the Lord may grant them a serene, tranquil and prosperous future."

The letter continued: "In the meantime, as a particular sign of benevolence, His Holiness, grateful to those beloved sisters of St. Joseph of Chambéry for the work of mercy they do with such Christian understanding, sends them and the dear refugees the comforting apostolic blessing."

Direct contact

Sister Maria Piromalli, of the Institute Pius X in Rome, told how the Vatican secretary of state was in direct contact with the convents hiding the Jews.

Her institute, managed by the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, hid 44 Jewish men and women.

Sister Maria recalled that Pius XII "sent an appeal to all the religious institutes in Rome to help the Jews" and added that Don Emilio Rossi alerted her institute.

In the Vatican secret archives published in 2004 -- "Inter Arma Caritas. The Vatican Information Office on Prisoners of War, Instituted by Pius XII (1939-1947)" -- Don Emilio Rossi is listed as the secretary of the Information Office for Prisoners of War, under the Secretariat of State, that is, the office that dealt with matters related to helping the Jews.


Secretary of State Defends Pius XII
Cites '43 Letter by Which Pope Urged Aid for Jews

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 19, 2007 ( The Vatican secretary of state says that Pope Pius XII signed a letter asking all religious institutes to open their doors to Jews persecuted by the Nazi regime.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that Wednesday when commenting on a caption in the Yad Vashem, a Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, which asserted that Pius XII was silent in the face of the persecution against the Jews.

Cardinal Bertone explained that on Oct. 25, 1943, Pius XII signed "a bulletin from the Secretary of State which mandated that religious institutions and even the catacombs be opened to welcome the Jews persecuted by the Nazis."

The president of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, has promised to reconsider the way that Pius XII is portrayed in the museum.

While participating in the presentation of a book by Maria Franca Mellano, which documents the rescue of hundreds of Jews who took refuge in the Pius XI Institute of Rome, Cardinal Bertone called such cases "a luminous history of generosity."

"But this was possible, not only in this situation but in any of them, due to the bulletin from the secretary of state signed by Pius XII," the cardinal added. "It is impossible that Pius XII, who signed that bulletin, would not have approved that decision."


Vatican boycotts Holocaust ceremony over "offensive" photo

Citing the failure of a Jerusalem museum to remove an "offensive" photo caption criticising Pius XII, the Holy See nuncio to Israel is refusing to take part in an annual diplomatic ceremony to commemorate the Shoah.

AsiaNews reports that the nuncio, Archbishop Antonio, announced his decision not to attend because museum authorities "are not even taking into account recent historical findings".

Earlier Ynet News had reported that the controversial photograph first appeared at the new Yad Vashem Museum in 2005.

In early 2006, the previous Vatican ambassador turned to the museum with the request that the caption be changed, the paper said.

In response, Yad Vashem said they would readily examine Pius XII's conduct during the Holocaust if the Vatican opened its World War II-era archives to the museum's research staff. The Vatican however did not open the archives, and thus the caption remained.

Commenting on Archbishop Franco's decision, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that "if the Vatican ambassador does not come to the ceremony, his absence will definitely stand out."

In response, Archbishop Franco told AsiaNews that noone is calling for history to be changed, but rather for a change in the interpretation of history.

"Already last year," Archbishop Franco said, "Nuncio Pietro Samba wrote to Museum executives calling attention to the caption, to this very negative judgement against Pius XII and asked that it be reviewed or removed.

"Historical studies and material were also subsequently brought to the Museum's attention. Nothing was done and given the imminent celebrations I wrote to the President of Yad Vashem's board of directors, the Mr Avner Shalev who had replied to us last year, specifying that it was an interpretation that was problematic for me - and not just for me, but for all Catholic believers - offensive to the Pope's dignity - and the Pope is Pope for us - so I did not feel at ease about going to this commemoration.

"My suggestion was for reconsidering the possibility, shall we say, that the caption be corrected or that the photo be removed. And it was clearly a communication, not a press conference; there was and there is no desire for controversy. They gave it to the press.

"Now, the reality is that that caption is an interpretation, not a historical truth," Archbishop Franco said.


The Encyclical That Infuriated Hitler
Jesuit Says Pius XI's Document Was Prophetic

ROME, APRIL 4, 2007 ( On Palm Sunday of 1937, Pope Pius XI's encyclical "Mit Brennender Sorge" was read in all the parishes of Germany.

It was arguably the Holy See's harshest criticism ever of a political regime, according to Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel.

He says that the 70 years since the encyclical's publication have confirmed what the Holy See understood about the nature of Nazism and that the encyclical was prophetic in explaining how the separation of faith and morality leads to decline and war.

In exploring the history, nature and teachings of "Mit Brennender Sorge" (With Deep Anxiety), Father Gumpel explained that after World War I, the Holy See had often attempted a concordat with Germany, without succeeding.

There were concordats with some German states, such as Bavaria, Prussia and Baden, but never with Germany itself.

On Jan. 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor and, as early as April, offered a concordat to the Holy See on his own initiative.

The Holy See did not believe or trust Hitler, but it found itself in the difficult situation of being unable to refuse what appeared to be a very favorable agreement, Father Gumpel explained. The Holy See therefore signed the concordat even though everyone in the Roman Curia knew that Hitler would not follow or respect the agreements.

Persecution of Catholics

A few weeks after the signing of the concordat, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, then-secretary of state, was asked by a British diplomat whether Hitler would respect the concordat.

Cardinal Pacelli replied: "Absolutely not. We can only hope that he will not violate all the clauses at the same time."

And in fact, immediately after the signing of the concordat, Hitler began persecuting Catholics at every turn, so much so that the Holy See sent 50 protests to the government.

Despite the official protests, the Nazi persecution increased, in education, in the press, with the imprisonment of priests. By 1936, the German episcopal conference asked for public intervention.

The German bishops were expected in Rome for their five-yearly visit in 1938 but the date was moved forward to 1937. On that occasion, all the prelates agreed to ask the Holy See to publish a document condemning Nazism.

Father Gumpel told ZENIT: "The archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, secretly composed the first draft of the encyclical. To maintain secrecy, he wrote it by hand instead of dictating it.

"To Cardinal Faulhaber's text, which was the basis of the encyclical, Cardinal Pacelli's interventions were added, and in seven weeks a text was prepared with passages that were even stronger than those proposed by Cardinal Faulhaber."

Secret distribution

Pius XI signed the definitive text of the encyclical on March 14, 1937. Printed copies were brought by diplomatic briefcase to the nuncio in Berlin. He passed these on to the bishop of Berlin, who had them distributed by secret couriers to all the German prelates.

Twelve printers reproduced the text under the noses of the Gestapo. Several bishops had copies printed in the hundreds of thousands. Afterward, again in total secrecy, the text was distributed to every parish priest, chaplain and convent, and the encyclical was read in every church on March 21, 1937, Palm Sunday.

"I was 14 years old and was at in the cathedral in Berlin when the text of the encyclical was read during the homily," Father Gumpel told ZENIT. "The cathedral was packed and the general reaction was one of approval."

The language was clear and explicit: Hitler was deceiving the Germans and the international community. The encyclical affirmed that the Nazi leader was perfidious, untrustworthy, dangerous and determined to take the place of God.

The Jesuit observed that "the reaction of Catholics was enthusiastic" while "Hitler was furious." It was said that, in fact, Hitler was so beside himself that for three days he did not want to see or receive anyone.

A print shop employee informed the Gestapo about the encyclical on the Saturday evening prior to Palm Sunday, but it was already too late to stop anything. The Gestapo did not dare to enter the churches because this would have incited a revolt, Father Gumpel said.

Still, there were Gestapo guards in front of the churches on Sunday morning, checking to see if anyone had a copy in hand. Anyone found possessing a copy was arrested. The 12 print shops were taken without reimbursement and some people ended up in jail.

Jewish elation

The international community reacted enthusiastically. The Jewish communities were elated since that encyclical presented the strongest condemnation of racism. All the Jewish newspapers in the world showed their enthusiasm for what the Holy See had done, Father Gumpel recalled.

"Nevertheless," he added, "despite the Pope having declared Hitler untrustworthy, at the conference in Munich in 1938, England, France and Italy came to an agreement with the Nazi regime."

According to Father Gumpel, the encyclical is "a document whose value goes beyond the historical context; there are parts that have taken on a prophetic significance and a contemporary relevance."

"'Mit Brennender Sorge,'" the Jesuit continued, "has more than a symbolic value; it is based on the principles of natural law and faith. It is prophetic also in regard to today's situation and it has a permanent value.

"If one does not comply with the natural law or the faith he falls into decadence and history has amply shown that this creates continual problems in the international order."

Denouncing Nazism

The first part of the encyclical traces a history of the concordat and it points out the continual violations in regard to the Catholic Church and the faithful.

There is a part in which "Mit Brennender Sorge" denounces "whoever identifies, by pantheistic confusion, God and the universe, by either lowering God to the dimensions of the world, or raising the world to the dimensions of God, is not a believer in God."

The encyclical condemns racist ideas, which "divinize with an idolatrous cult," land and blood and "perverts and falsifies the order God has planned and created."

The pontifical document underlines "the error of speaking of a national God, of a national religion; or attempt to lock within the frontiers of a single people, within the narrow limits of a single race, God, the Creator of the universe, King and Legislator of all nations before whose immensity they are as a drop of a bucket."

"Mit Brennender Sorge" strenuously defends the Old Testament, arguing that "whoever wishes to see banished from church and school the biblical history and the wise doctrines of the Old Testament, blasphemes the name of God, blasphemes the Almighty's plan of salvation, and makes limited and narrow human thought the judge of God's designs over the history of the world."

The encyclical commends those who, defending the Catholic religion, "are subjected to a violence that is as illegal as it is inhuman," and it speaks clearly of temptations to "the Judas bargain of apostasy."

There is also an explicit condemnation of the attempt to build a "national German church."

On the moral plane "Mit Brennender Sorge" strongly opposes "all the efforts to remove from under morality and the moral order the granite foundation of faith," a road that leads to "the moral degradation of individuals and societies."

The condemnation of the Nazi principle that "there is a right to what is useful for the nation" is also implied. Indeed, in a prophetic way it is said that, "that principle, detached from the moral law, would mean internationally a perpetual state of war among nations."

No. 1 enemy

Father Gumpel also emphasized that "the harshest statements against Nazism were Pacelli's, and Hitler knew it," so much so that Hitler considered Pacelli his No. 1 enemy and feared his moral power.

The Jesuit priest then commented on the report that appeared in La Repubblica last week, according to which archive documents from former East Germany reveal that Pacelli was the Nazis' enemy and that the Soviet Union was behind the campaign to calumniate Pius XII.

Gumpel told ZENIT: "These revelations do not add anything to what the Holy See already knows, but it is important for those who have thought and written that Pacelli was 'Hitler's Pope.'

"Now there are other documents that show how many false statements have been made about Pius XII. The responsibility of the Soviets is also evident in the campaign to calumniate Pius XII."


More Evidence Pius XII Was Not Hitler's Pope
German Files Point to a Russian Plot

ROME, APRIL 2, 2007 ( Adolf Hitler's No. 1 enemy was the Vatican's secretary of state, Eugenio Pacelli, future Pope Pius XII, according to documents recently found in Europe.

In an article published last Thursday by La Repubblica, reporter Marco Ansaldo announced that he has a dossier on Pius XII that complements documentation found in the Vatican Archives.

According to the newly discovered documents, Pius XII was considered an enemy of the Third Reich. Memos and letters unearthed at a depot used by the Stasi, the East German secret police, show that Nazi spies within the Vatican were concerned at the Pope's efforts to help displaced Poles and Jews.

One document from the head of Berlin's police force tells Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Third Reich's foreign minister, that the Catholic Church was providing assistance to Jews "both in terms of people and financially."

Russia's motives

In a commentary on the new documents, Sister Margherita Marchione, author and expert on Pius XII, explains the campaign against the Pope was the work of the Soviets.

"Russia's plans were to control Europe after the war. The only outspoken obstacle to Russia's plan in Europe was the Catholic Church," Sister Marchione wrote.

"The first attacks claiming that the Church had endorsed silently the atrocities of the Nazis came from Communist Russia," she explained. "Soon to control Poland, and other vast areas in Eastern Europe, Russia saw the need to break the loyalty to the Pope of Catholic majorities in those countries.

"The plan was a simple one: convince everyone that the Pope supported the hated Nazis during the war and, therefore, neither he nor the Church could be trusted after the war. The destruction of the Church would leave the field wide open for Russian influence and control."


British Historian Defends Pius XII
Martin Gilbert Presents Book on the Holocaust's Heroes

ROME, JAN. 29, 2007 ( A leading historian of World War II has just published a book which documents the action of the Church and Pope Pius XII in rescuing Jews from Nazi persecution.

Sir Martin Gilbert's "I Giusti, gli eroi sconosciuti dell¡ÇOlocausto" (The Righteous, Unknown Heroes of the Holocaust) was published by Citt «¢ Nuova and presented in Rome last Wednesday.

Gilbert, 70, is a professor of the history of the Holocaust at University College, London, and the author of 72 books. Known as the official biographer of Winston Churchill, he was knighted in 1995 for his service to British history and international relations.

The presentation ceremony enabled top Holy See representatives, historians and Jewish representatives to hear the conclusions of the Jewish author.

This book says that the "'righteous' ¡Ä are those non-Jewish men and women throughout Europe who broke the chains of indifference, egoism and individualism and saved a great number of Jews from Nazi extermination, risking their own lives and that of their relatives."

He who saves

In the inside cover of the book, Gilbert notes that in the Talmud it is written that "he who saves a life, saves the whole world," and that this is the reason why the Holocaust History Museum at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem memorial remembers and honors the "righteous."

On presenting Gilbert's book, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, explained that the Jews' history "is a history of the good, or rather a current of good that runs through humanity regardless of religious differences."

The cardinal specified that "Christians, among them many Catholics, and also Muslims, accepted -- at the cost of their own lives -- to save Jews from the Shoah. This was a great war, carried out without proclamations, manifestos, theories or rhetoric and these 'righteous' fought it at times against the conventions and prejudices of their own environment."

In this connection, Cardinal Bertone highlighted the role played by Poland, where it is estimated that 1 million citizens were involved in saving Jews.

"It is often forgotten that Poland was the only country where the death penalty was in force for helping Jews," said the cardinal. He recalled the story of the Ulma family, whose process of beatification is under way in the Diocese of Przemsyl.

Jozef Ulma and his wife Wiktoria and seven children (one still in the womb) were killed March 24, 1944, in the village of Markowa, for having hidden eight Jews in their home.

With reference to the Church's intervention, especially Pius XII's, the cardinal said that it was not just a question "of organizing bureaucratically the search for the dispersed and assistance to prisoners. They were helped in every way possible."


In regard to those who accuse Pius XII of silence in the face of anti-Jewish persecution, Cardinal Bertone pointed out: "It is clear that Pope Pacelli was not about silence but about intelligent and strategic speaking, as demonstrated in the 1942 Christmas radio message which infuriated Hitler.

"The proofs are in the Vatican archives, where one finds, for example, the 1928 declaration of the former Holy Office, very simple and very clear, condemning anti-Semitism, a document that was totally forgotten, as if the condemnation of anti-Semitism was only that of Vatican II.

"The history one reads in Martin Gilbert's volume should also be known for another reason; because it is not only the history of those proclaimed righteous before the world, but also the history of those many other 'implicit righteous,' who were not honored because their historical memory was lost."


The KGB campaign against Pius XII

By George Weigel

According to General Pacepa, the Soviets, stung by the public relations bludgeoning they had taken because of the persecution of Catholics in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and elsewhere decided to accelerate the anti-Catholic propaganda offensive they had launched toward the end of World War II by depicting the Church as a bulwark of Nazism. Pius XII was the primary target — because, as the KGB liked to say, “Dead men cannot defend themselves.” So the KGB concocted a scheme whereby its Romanian ally would penetrate the Vatican archives, using agents disguised as priests; certain Vatican officials, it seems, took the bait, assured by Romanian operatives that cooperation would lead to official Holy See-Romanian diplomatic relations. No documents incriminating Pius XII were found, but the plot now shifted. In 1963, a senior Soviet intelligence official told his Romanian colleagues that the centerpiece of the anti-Catholic offensive would now be a play defaming Pius XII, The Deputy. Its author, Rolf Hochhuth, was a former Hitler Youth turned communist fellow-traveler; the play was produced by a lifelong communist. The results — for The Deputy was the Pearl Harbor of the Pius War — vindicated KGB chairman Yuri Andropov’s conviction that the gullible find smut easier to believe than holiness.

Call me skeptical, but I suspect that what my friend Joseph Bottum christened “The Pius War” will never be resolved. Controversy over Pope Pius XII’s role during the Second World War and the Holocaust is too juicy a topic, involving too many interests (and academic reputations), to ever die down. The Pius War may eventually outstrip the Hundred Years’ War in duration.

No serious scholar believes that Eugenio Pacelli, elected pope on February 2, 1939, was an anti-Semite, harshly indifferent to the fate of European Jewry. No serious scholar contests the evidence that Pius XII took direct and indirect measures to save Jews from the Nazi death machine. Visiting Castel Gandolfo this past September, I walked past the places where thousands of persecuted Jews had been hidden on the papal summer estate, and I remembered that Jewish children (some named “Eugenia” or “Eugenio” in honor of their benefactor) had been born in the pope’s bedroom.

Heeding the advice he was receiving from resistance leaders, and after the Nazi roundup of Jewish-born Dutch Christians which followed a sharp critique of Nazi practice by the Dutch bishops — the roundup that began Edith Stein’s journey to Auschwitz, and eventual canonization — Pius XII seems to have concluded that direct public protests from him would endanger both Jews and Catholics. Even so, his public criticisms of racial persecution, which mirrored the Holy See’s anti-Nazi commentary throughout the 1930s, were understood by both the Nazis and, mirabile dictu, the New York Times, to be directed at Berlin. It is also reasonably well-established that Hitler wanted to kidnap Pius XII, which rather cuts against the claim that Pacelli was, somehow, pro-Nazi; so does Pius XII’s role as middle-man between Britain and Germans exploring an anti-Hitler coup. On his death in 1958, Pius XII was praised by Golda Meir, then foreign minister of the State of Israel.

Reasonable people can debate whether Pius’s strategic decision to avoid an explicit, public condemnation of Nazism, precisely for the sake of saving lives, was the correct one. But it takes a certain bias, contradicted by many facts, to conclude that this decision was taken on the basis of cowardice. It takes even worse bias to conclude that it was taken because of anti-Semitism.

<> Why, then, the campaign of defamation, which has reached the point where one overhears tourists in St. Peter’s Basilica, spotting the bronze statue of Pius XII erected by his cardinals, whispering, “That’s ‘tler’s Pope’”?

Serious scholars have long suspected that the origins of that campaign lie in the anti-Catholic machinations of the KGB, the Soviet intelligence service. Confirmation of that thesis now comes from General Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Romanian intelligence officer and the highest-ranking Soviet bloc spymaster ever to defect, in an article posted on National Review Online on January 26.

Don’t bet the mortgage money that this new evidence will appear in the New York Times anytime soon.

George Weigel is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Weigel’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Phone: 303-715-3215.


KGB intent on linking Pius XII with Nazis, says former spy

Washington DC, Jan 26, 2007 / 04:18 pm (CNA).- A former high-ranking officer with the KGB claims that the Kremlin and the Russian intelligence agency in the 1960s were set on executing a smear campaign against the Catholic Church, and the main target was Pope Pius XII.

In a recent issue of the National Review Online, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who eventually defected from the former Soviet bloc, recounts how the KGB and the Kremlin designed the deliberate campaign to portray the Pius XII “as a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer.”

“In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a super-secret plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority in Western Europe,” writes Pacepa. “Eugenio Pacelli, by then Pope Pius XII, was selected as the KGB’s main target, its incarnation of evil, because he had departed this world in 1958. ‘Dead men cannot defend themselves’ was the KGB’s latest slogan.”

The code name for this operation against Pope Pius XII was “Seat-12.”

The KGB used the fact that Archbishop Pacelli had served as the papal nuncio in Munich and Berlin when the Nazis were beginning their bid for power against him. “The KGB wanted to depict him as an anti-Semite who had encouraged Hitler’s Holocaust,” says Pacepa.

To do this, the KGB wanted some original Vatican documents to “slightly modify”. So they called in Pacepa, who was working for the Romanian intelligence service.

Pacepa says he became the Romanian point man. He was authorized to falsely inform the Vatican that Romania was ready to restore its broken relations with the Holy See, in exchange for access to its archives — in order to find historical roots that would help the Romanian government publicly justify its change of heart toward the Holy See — and a one-billion-dollar, interest-free loan for 25 years.

Between 1960 and 1962, the Romanian spy sent hundreds of archival documents connected in any way with Pope Pius XII to the KGB. Pacepa says none of the documents were incriminating in themselves, but they were sent to the KGB in any case.

The KGB used these documents to produce a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII, entitled The Deputy. It eventually saw the stage in Germany in 1963, under the title The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy. It proposed that Pius XII had supported Hitler and encouraged him to go ahead with the Jewish Holocaust. The German director claimed to have 40 pages of documentation attached to the script that would support the thesis of the play.

The play ran in New York in 1964 and was translated into 20 languages. The play then led to a flurry of books and articles, some accusing and some defending the pontiff.

“Today, many people who have never heard of The Deputy are sincerely convinced that Pius XII was a cold and evil man who hated the Jews and helped Hitler do away with them,” Pacepa writes in the National Review Online. “As KGB chairman Yury Andropov, the unparalleled master of Soviet deception, used to tell me, people are more ready to believe smut than holiness.”

Pacepa says the truth has finally begun to emerge with the canonization process of Pius XII, which was opened by Pope John Paul II.

“Witnesses from all over the world have compellingly proved that Pius XII was an enemy, not a friend, of Hitler,” says Pacepa.

He also refers to the book The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews From the Nazis, by David G. Dalin, which has compiled further proof of Archbishop Pacelli’s friendship for the Jews.

“At the start of World War II, Pope Pius XII’s first encyclical was so anti-Hitler that the Royal Air Force and the French air force dropped 88,000 copies of it over Germany,” he concludes.


Cardinal Bertone emphasizes the efforts of Pope Pius XII to save Jews during the Holocaust

Vatican City, Jan 25, 2007 / 04:06 pm (CNA).- During the presentation of a new book chronicling the “anonymous heroes” who worked against the Holocaust during World War II, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, recalled the exemplary role of Pope Pius XII in the fight against the Nazi’s and in the effort to help those in need, especially the Jews.
According to Vatican Radio the Cardinal said on Wednesday that independent historical research has now proven that Pope Pius and those around him sought to help all who were in need during the war.

"The story of the 20th century Catholic Church ran into an unprecedented tragedy with the extermination of the Jewish people, a tragedy which confronted all of Europe with questions about its religious and human values," said Cardinal Bertone during the presentation of Martin Gilbert’s book, "The Just: The unknown heroes of the Holocaust."
Cardinal Bertone explained that "the story of ‘The Just’ is the story of a chain of goodness that has crossed humanity regardless of religions, even at the risk of losing one’s own life and those of their relatives."

The protectors of Jews during Nazism, stated the Prelate, developed a "peaceful and silent war against the forces of evil and against the prejudices of their environment."
In this war, indicated the Vatican Secretary of state, "the Catholic Church had a prominent role:  The story of “The Just” is intertwined with that of Pius XII and is a story that ends the controversies about a supposed papal 'collaboration (with Nazis)' or anti-Semitism."

The book clearly proves, said Cardinal Bertone, "a clear attitude of Pius XII to help in every possible way the pursued Jews;" and even more, it was precisely the in the "continuation of the guidelines of Pius XII, the Holy See sought, not only to organize the search for the scattered, but also to coordinate the efforts in favor of the victims, thus giving example to the faithful as to how they should help," concluded the Cardinal.


Archival document reveals Pope Pius XII’s support for Jewish people

Rome, Oct 27, 2006 / 12:00 am (CNA).- A recently uncovered archival document demonstrates Pope Pius XII’s high esteem and support for the Jewish people during the Second World War.

The uncovered document provides further evidence against the notion that Pope Pius XII was an anti-Semite and did nothing to help the Jews during World War II.

Monthly magazine, Inside the Vatican, reported on the document, which is an article that was published in The Palestine Post, (now The Jerusalem Post), on April 28, 1944. The article was written as a first-hand account by an anonymous Jewish author in wartime Palestine.

It describes a meeting between Pope Pius XII and the anonymous author, a young German Jew, in 1941 at the Vatican. The young man had gone seeking help for Jews who were being held in an Italian Fascist internment camp.

After listening to the young man and asking him to follow up with a letter to the Secretary of State who was dealing with the matter, Pius told him twice in front of a large group, which included German soldiers: “Be proud to be a Jew.”

The document was uncovered by William Doino, a longtime contributor to Inside the Vatican and the author of an 80,000-word annotated bibliography on Pope Pius XII, titled “The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII". Doino found the article in archives maintained by Tel Aviv University.

"The testimony has apparently been forgotten, because, as far as I know, no leading Holocaust authority or biographer of Pius XII has ever cited it,” Doino was reported as saying.

According to the article, the Pope had told the young Jewish man: "You have done well to come to me and tell me this. I have heard about it before. Come back tomorrow with a written report and give it to the Secretary of State who is dealing with the question. But now for you, my son. You are a young Jew. I know what that means and I hope you will always be proud to be a Jew!"

Pius then raised his voice so that everyone in the hall - including the German soldiers - could hear him. "My son, whether you are worthier than others only the Lord knows, but believe me, you are at least as worthy as every other human being that lives on our earth! And now, my Jewish friend, go with the protection of the Lord, and never forget, you must always be proud to be a Jew!"

"For Pius XII to make this statement to a German Jew, in 1941, in private, would have been remarkable enough," Doino told Inside the Vatican. "That he did it in public, with his voice raised so that 'everybody in the hall' could 'hear it clearly,' in front of German soldiers, as well as cardinals, bishops, and other high dignitaries of the Vatican government, is more astonishing still.”

“It doesn't merely reveal Pius XII's kindness and Christian compassion; he goes well beyond that and affirms the young man's Jewishness, the very core and dignity of his being," Doino said.

Doino will be contributing a full commentary on his findings in an upcoming publication of Inside the Vatican.

For Doino's initial article and the full text of The Palestine Post article see this link to Inside the Vatican.


Newly-opened Vatican archives demonstrate a future Pius XII with no love for Nazis

Rome, Sep 21, 2006 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Documents emerging from the Vatican's archives demonstrate that Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, defended anti-Nazi clergy and censored priests who expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, a German historian said Wednesday.
German church historian Hubert Wolf told The Associated Press that the recorded minutes of Vatican meetings held in the late 1930s show that the ailing Pope Pius XI greatly relied on Cardinal Pacelli, then Secretary of State, to enforce his Pontificate's stance against Nazism and Fascism.
"The Pope would just make a blessing and say 'our secretary of state will find a solution'," Wolf told the AP about what he saw in the first few documents he had seen among the millions opened up by the Vatican on Monday.
The archives, which span from 1922 to 1939, may offer some answers into the controversy surrounding the cardinal who later became Pope, and who has been accused by some historians of failing to do enough to protect Jews during the Holocaust. The Vatican has insisted Pius XII used discreet diplomacy that saved thousands of Jews.
Wolf also saw documents relating to the strong anti-Nazi statements Chicago’s Cardinal George Mundelein made in 1937.  The documents showed a flurry of discussion between the Pope, Cardinal Pacelli and 10 other cardinals as to how the Vatican should respond to the protests of Hitler’s administration.  The Vatican’s communications centered on whether the Vatican should blame the U.S. cardinal or exonerate him.  It was Cardinal Pacelli, who to the dismay of the Nazis was successful in pushing for a reply to German authorities that defended Cardinal Mundelein, saying he had simply exercised freedom of speech within his diocese.
The Vatican archive also includes extensive documents regarding Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna’s 1938 endorsement of the German annexation of Austria. Cardinal Pacelli reportedly responded to this situation with harsh communications, ordering Cardinal Innitzer to report to Rome. The meeting in Rome resulted in a retraction of the pro-Nazi statement.


Progress in Pius XII’s cause for beatification

Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- In an interview with the Italian news agency APCOM, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, said the beatification process for Pope Pius XII “is proceeding without problems.” The Portuguese cardinal said that in March 2005 a first meeting would take place of the committee of historians charged with examining the massive amount of material gathered during the years of preparation for the cause.

The historical review will be followed by theological reviews and later, by reviews by the committee of cardinals.

“The cause of Pope Pacelli continues ahead without problems and has never been stopped, despite the controversy of these days,” the cardinal told APCOM.

“As everyone knows, these are news controversies that have nothing to do with the main work of research,” which is about serious historical study of the complex period in question, the cardinal said.

Father Peter Gumpel, one of the most renowned experts on Pius XII and promoter of the cause, told Italian reporters that “the beatification process is proceeding normally and progressing.”

“It is not true that the process has been slowed down or stopped” because of recent accusations against Pius XII in the Italian media, which have been quickly refuted by historians.  “They are absurd reports,” said Father Gumpel.


Martyrdom would have been too easy for Pius XII, says Italian professor

Rome, Jan 28, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Pope Pius XII was a heroic leader, who kept the Church intact and saved the lives of many with his wise decisions during World War II, says an Italian professor and specialist in religious geopolitics. As the debate rages on in some Jewish and Christian camps about whether the wartime Pope should be beatified, University of Florence professor Pietro De Marco says Pius XII would be “a lofty model of charismatic responsibility and rational rigor” if the Church moved ahead with the beatification.

Critics have accused Pope Pius XII of not having done enough to stop the arrest, torture and extermination of the Jews and others targeted by the Nazis during World War II. The Vatican is expected to begin reviewing documents for the former Pope’s cause for the sainthood this spring.

De Marco, who is also a professor at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy, shares his analysis of Pius’s pontificate in his article “Towards an Evaluation of Pius XII,” published by

Pius XII “did what his conscience told him,” writes De Marco. “And it was the conscience of a pope, [who was] responsible for the universal Church and for the spiritual and, at that moment, even physical health of many,” he underlines.

“From the safety of his position between spiritual guide and head of state, he worked in practical ways for the good of many, and to an enormous extent, I believe,” he writes.

“It was the pope’s impenetrable brilliance and his capacity as a leader that stopped Hitler at the gates of Vatican City,” De Marco states.

The professor speculates that Hitler was probably affected by Pope Pius XII’s “extraordinary degree of political-religious charisma, and by the fear that laying hands on the pontiff would have had a delegitimizing, profaning effect upon him.

“In short, the only foundation and the only arena of political action that remained for Pius XII in the face of Hitler was his person, as the ‘Pope's body,’ and his charisma of authority,” De Marco offers. “He wanted these to remain free and operative, and he kept them so for as long as he could.”

This, De Marco believes, “saved the lives of many.”

De Marco writes that it would be too simple to state that the Pope should have acted and spoken, even at the risk of martyrdom.

“Martyrdom would have been only a liberation from the burdens of office, from the daily exercise of charisma,” De Marco says.

“In Pius XII, therefore, there is manifested the heroism of the one who works under extreme responsibility, in the exceptional situation,” he states. “It is the sanctity of the rock, the marvelous Catholic sanctity that flows from decisive action, and not from homilies.

“The miracle of Pius XII is that of the house built upon the rock (Mt. 7:24), which he kept intact in silence – and by virtue of silence – and which was thereby capable of providing shelter and protection in a place that words would have destroyed,” he concludes.


New York Times fails to print story on Hitler’s plot to kidnap Pius XII

New York, Jan 19, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Catholic League president William Donohue issued a statement yesterday, questioning the journalistic integrity of the New York Times. He noted that the daily was quick to run articles slamming Pope Pius XII as an alleged pro-Nazi supporter.

However, it failed to publish a subsequent article that hit the press, stating that Adolf Hitler viewed the wartime Pope as “an obstacle to his plan for global domination” and ordered his kidnapping, said Donohue.

“Though the wire services and many major newspapers at home and abroad carried the story, readers of the New York Times have yet to read about Hitler’s plot,” said Donohue.


Former U.S. wartime diplomat expects Pius XII to be made a saint

Washington DC, Jan 18, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- A key U.S. diplomat, who served during Pope Pius XII’s pontificate, states in his revealing memoirs that he expects the pontiff to be eventually made a saint. The book offers a first-hand account and convincing evidence that the accusations railed against Pope Pius XII as a “pro-Nazi Pope” are unfounded.

“Inside the Vatican of Pius XII: The Memoir of an American Diplomat During World War II” is the memoir of Harold Tittmann, Jr., who was chief assistant to Myron Taylor, Franklin Roosevelt’s personal representative to the Vatican, between 1940 and 1946.

Tittmann, now deceased, has often been quoted in the case against Pius XII, but his memoir depicts a totally different picture of the wartime Pope, say literary analysts William Doino, Jr. and Joseph Bottum in a book review. Their full book review was published in First Things.

Doino and Bottum state: “These memoirs may be the most important document to be published on Pius XII in over 20 years. And they prove to be, far from an indictment, an overwhelming defense of the Pope and the Catholic Church.”

In his memoirs, the Episcopalian and World War I veteran insisted that Pius XII “detested the Nazi ideology and everything it stood for.” He also credited the Pope for his diplomatic skills, decisive nature and ability “to see both sides of a question.”

The 224-page book reveals that Pope Pius XII’s actions during the war were influenced by the anti-Nazi resistance, which advised him not to make any public statements specifically condemning the Nazis for fear of greater violence against the people.

For example, soon after World War II began, Pope Pius XII had authorized Vatican Radio to condemn Nazi war crimes against Catholics and Jews in Poland, wrote Tittmann. However, “the Polish bishops hastened to notify the Vatican that after each broadcast …, the various local populations suffered ‘terrible’ reprisals,” he said. As a result, such broadcasts were discontinued.

“Personally, I cannot help but feel that the Holy Father chose the better path by not speaking out and thereby saved many lives,” wrote Tittmann. “Who can say what the Nazis would have done in their ruthless furor had they been further inflamed by public denunciations coming from the Holy See?”

Tittmann witnessed to the Vatican network that provided assistance to persecuted Jews and Pius XII’s “personal and secret account,” in a U.S. bank, which he “used exclusively for charitable purposes” during the war.

Tittmann also stated that Allied diplomats followed Cardinal Maglione’s advice and destroyed “all documents that might possibly be of use to the enemy.”

As a result, say the book reviewers, “the many official diplomatic documents, which survive the war years, represent merely a fraction of Pius XII’s activities.”

“I do not for one moment overlook his great spiritual qualities,” wrote Tittmann of Pius XII. “Whether near him or away from him, one was always conscious of them. … Very possibly the future will rate him a saint.”

“Inside the Vatican of Pius XII: The Memoir of an American Diplomat During World War II” is priced at $13.95.


Truth about wartime document revealed
 shows Pius XII supported Jewish children’s return to families

New York, Jan 17, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Catholic League president William Donohue says critics of Pope Pius XII are looking “rather foolish” after the truth about a document, slamming the wartime Pope, was revealed late last week.

The New York Times ran a story Jan. 9, citing an Italian newspaper, which claimed to have uncovered a 1946 letter implicating Pope Pius XII in a scheme not to return Jewish children, who were cared for by Catholics during the Holocaust, to their parents after the war.

The newspaper article claimed that Pope Pius XII approved the unsigned letter.

However, Donohue pointed out in a press release that Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale discovered that the letter never originated at the Holy See. In fact, he found that the text bears the seal of the apostolic nunciature of France.

Most importantly, the letter says the exact opposite of what was originally claimed.

Tornielli discovered that the letter states that Jewish children, who were cared for by Catholic families or institutions during the war, should be returned to their original families. In the event that Jewish organizations, and not families, sought custody of the children it was to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Donohue added that Zenit, the international news agency that covers the Vatican, “learned that the origins of the document extend to a letter written in 1946 by Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Jerusalem, to Pius XII.

“In it, (Rabbi) Herzog thanked the Pope for helping Jews during the Holocaust and for sheltering ‘thousands of children who were hidden in Catholic institutions.’ He then requested that these children be returned to their original families,” said Donohue.


"Be Proud to Be a Jew!" Pius XII Told Visitor in '41
Incident Was Published in Palestine Post

ROME, DEC. 3, 2006 ( An article published in 1944 by a young German Jew in the Palestine Post, the future Jerusalem Post, points up Pope Pius XII's appreciation for the "Chosen People."

The article was published April 28, 1944, on Page 6 and headlined "A Papal Audience in Wartime." It was signed by a "refugee"; a footnote states that the article's author arrived in Palestine on the ship Nyassa.

The writer recounts that in autumn of 1941 he was received in audience along with numerous other people by Pius XII.

When the young Jew approached the Pope, he revealed that he was born in Germany but was a Jew.

The Holy Father responded, "What can I do for you? Tell me, my son!"

The young Jew told Pius XII about a group of shipwrecked Jewish refugees, saved by Italian warships in the Aegean Sea, who were then starving in a prisoner of war camp on an island. The Pope listened carefully and showed concern about the physical and health conditions of the Jewish prisoners.

According to the article, Pius XII then said to him: "You have done well to come and tell me this. I have heard about it before. Come back tomorrow with a written report and give it to the secretary of state who is dealing with this question. But now for you, my son. You are a young Jew. I know what that means and I hope you will always be proud to be a Jew!"

Then, the author of the article wrote, the Pope raised his voice, so that everyone in the hall could hear it clearly: "My son, whether you are worthier than others only the Lord knows, but believe me, you are at least as worthy as every other human being that lives on our earth! And now, my Jewish friend, go with the protection of the Lord, and never forget, you must always be proud to be a Jew!"

Archival find

The author goes on to say that, after having uttered these words in a pleasant voice, Pius XII lifted his hands to give the usual blessing, but he stopped, smiled and touched the author's head with his fingers, and then lifted him from his kneeling position.

Pius XII uttered these words during an audience attended by cardinals, bishops -- and a group of German soldiers.

Details of this incident were discovered in an archive in Tel Aviv University by William Doino, contributor to the magazine Inside the Vatican, and author of an annotated bibliography on Pius XII, published in "The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII" (Lexington Books, 2004).

According to Doino, "This testimony is significant because it shows the attention and great love with which the Pontiff regarded the Jews, in addition to reaffirming the rejection of the Nazi racial theories that pointed to the Jews as the last of the earth."

On this matter, Doino will publish a full-scale commentary in an upcoming issue of Inside the Vatican magazine, in which, among other things, he will evaluate the importance of this testimony for Pius XII studies.


Holy See and the Jewish Question
Interview With Historian Alessandro Duce

ROME, NOV. 17, 2006 ( The publication of a new book has renewed the debate about Pope Pius XII's process of beatification.

"La Santa Sede e la questione ebraica (1933-1945)" (The Holy See and the Jewish Questions (1933-1945) is written by Alessandro Duce, professor of history of international relations at the University of Parma, and published by Studium.

The book aims to offer a detailed reconstruction of the diplomatic and humanitarian work carried out by the Holy See in the face of the persecutions suffered by Jews, beginning with Hitler's rise to power in Germany up to the end of World War II.

Duce made use of Vatican archives as well as little-known Italian diplomatic sources. Among the book's revelations are the efforts by the Vatican to facilitate the emigration of European Jews to the Americas, and the Holy See's action to oppose the issuing of anti-Jewish legislation in Central and Eastern Europe.

The recent presentation of the volume in Rome also awakened interest in debates regarding Pius XII's cause of beatification. Numerous media reported that Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, has said that Pius XII's cause is "stopped."

Questioned by ZENIT, the spokesman for Pius XII's cause of beatification, Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, revealed that Cardinal Saraiva Martins has asked him to declare that he "has never made a statement in which he upholds that Pius XII's cause is 'stopped.'"

Father Gumpel also criticized an Oct. 26 article in the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera which presents Duce's book as being critical of Pius XII, "when instead it is obvious that there are hundreds of pages with much documentary proof which demonstrate how and how much Popes Pius XI and especially Pius XII did for the Jews."

To have a broader idea of the question, ZENIT interviewed Duce.

Q: It has taken five years of research in the archives to write this book. What were the reasons that drove you to deepen your study of relations between the Holy See and "the Jewish question"?

Duce: From an examination of the numerous existing writings and the available archives, I arrived at a conviction: There was no systematic and integral work examining the conduct of the Holy See and its diplomatic structures in the whole temporal and geographic span in which Nazi and anti-Jewish violence was manifested.

I have tried to fill this void; it is not for me to say if I have succeeded.

Q: What are the conclusions of your research? How were Popes Pius XI's and Pius XII's relations with the Jews? How did they conduct themselves in the face of racial laws and persecutions of the Jewish people?

Duce: During the years of persecution, relations between the top of the Jewish communities and the Vatican were increasingly frequent and intense. The two Pontiffs of the period cannot be accused of indifference, instigation or complicity with the persecutors.

Q: An article published Oct. 26 by Il Corriere della Sera states that your book upholds the thesis of a "hesitant, isolated" even immobile Pope Pius XII, "unable to protect either believers or religious from persecution and martyrdom." Is this the result of your research?

Duce: The journalist's observation is precise and pertinent in substance, but it needs interpretation, namely, a specific reading, situated in the context of the events.

Pius XII's inability to protect believers themselves and the clergy from National Socialist violence should make one reflect. Can one expect someone who does not have the strength to protect "his own flock," to save his "neighbors"?

The context of the period is that of a double persecution: anti-Catholic - in general anti-religious -- and anti-Jewish. I think it is futile to specify that the second is much more violent and cruel than the first.

Q: On the occasion of the presentation of your book, some voices were raised to stop Pius XII's process of beatification. What is your opinion in this respect?

Duce: My research did not have as its objective to influence Pius XII's process of beatification. I must admit that I myself do not know the precise terms of this procedure, nor at what point it is today.

I have highlighted hundreds of documents -- many unknown until now. I do not exclude that some of them might be useful for the work of the commission in charge of the beatification.

For me the "historical" work is already very laborious; I have no intention of taking charge also of that of the commission.

Q: At the end of your book there is a chapter entitled "The Crusade of Charity." Can you explain what it is about?

Duce: The "crusade of charity" is an effective and happy expression used on several occasions by authoritative Vatican representatives. It tries to highlight the activity carried out by the Holy See during the conflict in favor of those who were suffering: searches for the missing; information; help for those detained; support of emigrations; economic aid to families, prisoners, the deported, etc.

Obviously it is an enormous and lasting effort sustained by Vatican structures and the nunciatures which, however, were not constituted with these objectives.

The Church of Rome wanted to provide assistance in all directions regardless of religion, nationality or race. In that multitude of sufferers were also the Jews.


Kornberg's review of Godman, Hitler and the Vatican
(Sunday, October 08, 2006)

A review of Peter Godman's Hitler and the Vatican: Inside the Secret Archives that Reveal  the New Story of the Nazis and the Church by  Jacques Kornberg, was recently posted in this list, and I think that in light of the recent discussion on the Pope's Lecture it is worthwhile to highlight what the reviewer says about this book:

The evidence he [Godman] has amassed makes clear that higher circles in the Vatican, including Pius XI and his Secretary of State Cardinal Pacelli,  regarded Nazism as a menace to civilization, and saw no affinities between the Church and Nazism in a common authoritarianism, or even anti-communism. Pius XI's one-time praise of Hitler's anti-Bolshevism in March, 1933, was an aberration (p. 8). Moreover, the Nazi persecution of the Jews was seen as nothing short of barbaric (pp. 8, 67-70). Hopefully at some point we can move beyond clichés about "Hitler's Pope". And this book by Godman is not an isolated view, but an expression of a new, more serious set of studies coming out challenging all kinds of myths promoted by secularists and anti-Catholics.

Here are some passages from another review by Max Haxtings of Michael Burleigh's monumental work SACRED CAUSES: Religion and Politics from the European Dictators to Al-Qaeda:
"Burleigh delivers a huge assault on what he considers the myth of the Vaticańs indulgence of the Nazis. He presents impressive evidence to show that many prominent members of the European Catholic hierarchies consistently and publicly opposed Hitler, gave aid to his victims and did their inadequate best to succour Jews. He acknowledges that Pius XII himself might have spoken out more forcefully, but accepts the view widely held among Church potentates at the time, that public confrontation with the Nazis could have made things even worse. [...]  He accuses those who have branded Pius XII "Hitleŕs Pope" of cynically exploiting the Holocaust as a club to belabour the Vatican, which they dislike for other reasons, related to its positions on birth control, abortion and women priests. He argues that the Vatican resisted Mussolinís fascists with considerable vigour..."

The full review can be found at The Sunday Times  October 08, 2006. At a later date I will draw attention to new studies on the Crusades and the Inquisition which challenge current interpretations.

Ricardo Duchesne
University of New Brunswick,


Pius XII's Massive Crusade
Interview With Sister Margherita Marchione

ROME, OCT. 06, 2006 ( As the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII approaches, errors regarding his life and involvement with the Holocaust continue to persist, says historian Sister Margherita Marchione.

Sister Marchione, an expert on the life of Pius XII, wrote the recently published "Crusade of Charity: Pius XII and POWs, 1939-1945" (Paulist Press).

In 2003 the Italian-American nun received the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" Cross, a papal award, for her work in promoting the truth about Pius XII.

Sister Marchione described for ZENIT the Pope's tireless efforts to save Jews and reunite prisoners of war with their families. Part 2 of this interview will appear Sunday.

Q: "Crusade of Charity" is your sixth book on Pius XII and the role of the Vatican during the World War II. What new perspective on this Pontiff does the new book offer?

Sister Marchione: "Crusade of Charity: Pius XII and POWs" is an untold story.

It presents Pius XII as a compassionate, loving Pope -- a man for all seasons -- whose efforts to console and inspire people in all walks of life, of all ages and religious convictions, are expressed in the words of loved ones in letters addressed directly to Pius XII to whom they confided their dreams, sorrows, hopes.

During World War II, young and old, Jews and Christians appealed to Pius XII for help in locating missing sons, husbands, relatives and friends. In his name the Vatican Information Office dealt with the requests and provided information to comfort them.

I tell the fascinating story of the grieved and heroic people in their own words interspersed with letters, telegrams and reports of the apostolic delegates who, at the direction of the Pope, visited prisoners in camps spread around the world.

Q: The book has two sections: It talks about what Pius XII did to help save Jews, but then a much larger part on what he did to help the prisoners of war during World War II, on both sides. How did Pius XII involve himself in these activities?

Sister Marchione: Vatican documents describe Pope Pius XII's efforts to terminate the war and to mitigate the tragic effects.

My book reveals that the Vatican Information Office offered a powerful system for prisoners of war to communicate with their loved ones.

As a young monsignor, Eugenio Pacelli had acted as emissary for Pope Benedict XV during World War I. The young diplomat directed this network of relief activities for three years and gained international respect for his spiritual as well as material assistance to all, especially prisoners of war.

Working with the International Red Cross and the Swiss government, he began negotiations for the exchange of wounded prisoners and interned civilians. As a result of his tireless efforts, his negotiations allowed thousands of civilian prisoners unfit for military service, together with the elderly, children, physicians, priests, sick soldiers and hostages to be exchanged and returned home.

Benedict XV acknowledged Pacelli's work by consecrating him a bishop on May 13, 1917. As soon as World War II began in 1939, Pius XII re-established the Vatican Information Office.

Q: What was it that inspired 20 million people to write to the Vatican to locate their missing loved ones? Why did they put so much confidence in the Church?

Sister Marchione: Regardless of race or religion people throughout the world contacted the Holy Father for help. Some asked for his blessing, others for material assistance.

Yes, research in the Vatican Secret Archives revealed that there are 20 million documents; not only the original letters requesting help for prisoners of war, but copies of the responses and all other pertinent information recorded on file cards. Here one finds information on prisoners of war with the first name, surname, date of birth, parents, profession, rank, and domicile of each individual.

Of course, research was relatively simple if the addressee was a prisoner, an internee, or an exiled person who sent news to his family; but it was a difficult task when relatives had received no news from the addressee for a month or a year or more. At times, the search for information was etched in desperation. Hundreds of volunteers helped Pius XII in the Vatican Information Office.

Desperately seeking help, families from every social class wrote to Pius XII. Letters were written with little formality but much hope.

I love this undated letter, number 00425091, from a child: "Dear Pope, I am the little girl who sent you Christmas greetings last year. Now I am sending you greetings for this Christmas. But I want news about my uncle, my mother's brother, Tonino Mangano, who is in America on Avenue Gremponti -- Greenpoint Avenue -- Brooklyn, and I want to know how he is and send him many kisses. I pray every evening that all my uncles come home, and also that Jesus will bless you."

Nor did non-Catholics hesitate to ask for assistance. "I'm not a believer, but I'm turning to you, Mr. Pope," one letter began. To help in this mission, Vatican Radio broadcast 1.2 million shortwave messages asking for news about missing individuals.

The papacy rescued Jews by channeling money to those in need, issuing countless baptismal certificates for their protection, negotiating with Latin American countries to grant them visas, and keeping in touch with their relatives through the Vatican Information Office. News of Pius XII's acts of charity spread.

Nuncios, apostolic delegates, bishops, pastors, and priests offered their assistance and comfort to prisoners, to internees, to families. The Vatican magazine, Ecclesia -- a collection of articles concerning the activities of the Vatican Information Office during World War II -- was published weekly from September 1942 to December 1945.

Incidentally, in this magazine I found photographs of the Religious Teachers of St. Lucy Filippini who had joined the volunteers. They were answering letters addressed to the Holy Father. This confirms the response of our superior general who stated in an interview printed in a book, "The Church and the War," that each day the sisters carried their typewriters to the Vatican.

Q: Pius XII has been accused of being indifferent to the sufferings of the victims of the Nazis. Your book tells a very different story. How did so much misinformation come about?

Sister Marchione: Ignorance of the historical truth is the only answer. How can anyone accuse Pius XII of indifference? My book reveals the truth and proves that Pius XII was not indifferent to the sufferings of the victims of the Nazis.

These [wartime] letters [to the Vatican] express the faith and confidence of families with regard to their loved ones who were prisoners of war or missing in action. Some beg for his blessing, confide in him, ask for food, clothing and financial assistance.

There are many very personal letters: An invalid father begs to see his son before he dies; a young mother thanks His Holiness for clothes she received for her children; a little child asks that her father be present for her first holy Communion; the father of nine children, with the four oldest serving in the army, implores Pius XII's help in a letter dated May 21, 1943: "You can perform a miracle. I know that the other three boys must still make their contribution toward victory; but at least try to have Mario, my son who is a prisoner, come back to us."

Writing in the name of a group of prisoners, one soldier begged His Holiness to contact their families in a letter dated November 22, 1943: "For the past several years we have been away from our country, from our family, from our home. We recall the smile of a mother, the embrace of a father, the kiss of a brother. Some of us long to see a son, whom we have not yet seen; men subjected to all the elements of bad weather dream of an oasis, a little green, a little rest in the midst of so much battle, so much blood, so much chaos, so much death. A funereal shadow envelops humanity, and we are fighting without hope in the midst of so much ruin and devastation."

The 100 letters I included are addressed to Pius XII. He read them and, at times, noted what the response should be in his own handwriting. They are among the 20 million in the Vatican Secret Archives.

Personally and through his representatives, Pius XII employed all the means at his disposal to save Jews and other refugees during World War II.

It should be noted that in every country, the Catholic Church had apostolic delegates who were asked to visit hospitals, prisons and concentration camps in order to report to the Vatican.

As a moral leader and a diplomat, Pius XII was forced to limit his words; he privately took action and, despite insurmountable obstacles, saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from the gas chambers.

Q: Any comments on the canonization process of Pius XII?

Sister Marchione: I understand that the canonization process is proceeding rapidly. Ever since the death of Pius XII, every Pope from John XXIII to Benedict XVI noted his sanctity.

In fact, in his first Christmas message, John XXIII called his predecessor: "Supreme doctor, light of holy mother Church, lover of the divine law."

Q: What do we have to learn from this Pope?

Sister Marchione: Thousands of available documents in the Vatican Secret Archives record the humanitarian work of the Holy See. Pius XII directed the greatest rescue program in the history of the Catholic Church and served as a beacon of hope throughout his pontificate, 1939-1958.

He knew that explicit condemnations would have sabotaged rescue operations and provoked more brutal reprisals. With "diplomacy" rather than "confrontation" he saved hundreds of thousands of Jews and Christians from death in the concentration camps.

He was a moral hero: a man solicitous on behalf of Jews and Gentiles alike who worked tirelessly for peace. Among his many prayers, he wrote "Ten Commandments for Peace." His was a crusade of charity!

The documentation will show convincingly that during the period leading up to, during, and after the Second World War, the Vatican used its moral prestige, limited funds, and extraordinary network of contacts to work consistently for the protection of human life and human dignity.

The humanitarian work of the Vatican was made known in the very words of a Nazi leader, Adolf Eichmann, who was condemned at the Nuremberg Trials. In his memoirs, he clearly states that the Vatican "vigorously protested the arrest of Jews, requesting the interruption of such action; to the contrary, the Pope would denounce it publicly."

Q: What is it about Pius XII that inspires such interest on your part?

Sister Marchione: Undoubtedly my meeting with Pius XII in 1957. I was 17 years old when he became Pope on March 2, 1939. I was a young nun whose order had special connection with the papacy from 1707, when the then Pope Clement XI called our sisters to open schools in Rome.

Like most Catholics of my generation, I revered the new Pope whom everyone described as the "Pope of Peace." My first trip to Italy was in May 1957, as a Columbia University Garibaldi Scholar. Accompanied by his niece, Elena Pacelli, I had the opportunity to meet Pius XII in the Basilica of St. Peter.

His piercing eyes penetrated my soul as we chatted informally. We spoke about my research on the poet Clemente Rebora, about the sisters in the USA, about my family.

I still see this tall, dignified, and ascetic figure, along with his brilliant glance, his loving smile, and animated gestures. He had a magnetic personality full of intelligence and nobility of spirit. When I think of Pius XII, I feel inspired.

Q: What are you doing now to promote the truth about Pius XII?

Sister Marchione: As we approach the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII, October 9, 1958, I have asked Yad Vashem to posthumously recognize and honor him as "Righteous among the nations."

He risked his own life to save Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome. Jews firmly believe in justice and truth. I would also like Yad Vashem to correct the statement below the portrait of Pope Pius XII which is contrary to the truth and is unjust. It must be repudiated.

It says: "Pius XII's reaction toward the killing of Jews during the period of the Holocaust is controversial. In 1933, as the Vatican secretary of state, in order to maintain the rights of the Church in Germany, he signed a concordat with the Nazi regime even at the price of recognizing the racist Nazi regime. When he was elected Pope in 1939, he put aside an encyclical against racism and anti-Semitism prepared by his predecessor."

This statement is false. Pius XII wrote his own encyclical, "Summi Pontificatus," which did deal with racism.

The statement continues: "Although reports about the assassination of Jews reached the Vatican, the Pope did not protest either by speaking out or in writing."

This is not true. Whenever Pius XII spoke out, there was immediate retaliation by the Nazis. There were more than 60 protests!

The text in Yad Vashem says: "In December 1942, he did not participate in the condemnation by members of the allies regarding the killing of Jews. Even when the Jews were being deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the Pope did not intervene."

The Pope did indeed intervene. After that first day, the SS were ordered to stop the deportation of the Jews in Rome.

It adds: "He maintained a neutral position except toward the end of the war when he appealed on behalf of the government of Hungary and of Slovakia. His silence and the absence of directives obliged the clergy in Europe to decide independently how they should behave toward the persecuted Jews."

This is not true. Members of the Church were ordered to protect all refugees and Jews.

If the statement is corrected and Pius XII is declared a "Righteous Gentile" by Yad Vashem in Israel, it would mean that finally the Jews recognize the good that was done by Pius XII in saving hundreds of thousands of Jews as the Jews themselves have testified.

In his introduction to the Eichmann trial, Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner stated on April 17, 1961, "that the Pope himself intervened personally in support of the Jews arrested in Rome."

Some historians continue to ignore the testimony of countless contemporary witnesses. Can historians prove that the charges against Pius XII are false? Truth and justice demand a re-evaluation of the attacks against Pope Pius XII claiming "silence," "moral culpability," or "anti-Semitism." Did Hitler want to kidnap the Pope? The answer is, "Yes."

However, Yad Vashem requires two testimonials from people of Jewish descent who can testify that they were saved, or that they knew Jews -- or heard about Jews -- who were saved by the Pope. Their testimony must be notarized. Perhaps friends of ZENIT will be able to help locate these testimonials.


Pius XI and Eugenio Pacelli Revealed
Interview with Professor Matteo Luigi Napolitano

ROME, OCT. 2, 2006 ( The opening of Vatican Secret Archives from the pontificate of Pope Pius XI may help historians to reevaluate the years preceding World War II.

The archives, opened Sept. 18, include millions of letters relating to the years 1922-1939, covering events such as the Catholic Church's persecution in Mexico and Spain, the advent of Fascism and Nazism, and the spread of Communism in Europe.

In this interview with ZENIT, Matteo Luigi Napolitano, associate professor at the University of Molise, comments on the first steps of analyzing the documents found in the archives.

Napolitano is also a delegate of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences to the International Commission for the History of World War II.

Q: From the historical point of view, of what importance is the opening of the Vatican Archives on the period of Pius XI's pontificate?

Napolitano: The opening of the archives, in the greatest possible number, is in general the great desire of historians. In particular, the Holy See's international relations can also be documented based on different Vatican archives.

It is the case with Pius XI's pontificate: The valuable work carried out by experts of Italy's Foreign Ministry, in the '80s, under the guidance of professor Pietro Pastorelli, has enabled us to have access to an enormous quantity of material relative to the relationship between the Holy See and Fascist Italy.

The work of similar commissions abroad and the publication of diplomatic collections, has enhanced our knowledge of many other aspects of Pius XI's diplomacy.

But the opening of the papers of the Vatican Secret Archive represents an enormous enrichment, not only because of its own importance, which needs no explanation, but also because the internal dynamics of the Holy See can be understood, especially in great moments of change in the contemporary world in which the Vatican was involved.

Q: What do the documents say about Hitler's visit to Rome on May 2, 1938? How did the Holy See conduct itself?

Napolitano: From Father Giovanni Sale's research in the archives opened in 2003, one deduces that neither Pius XI nor Pius XII were "Hitler's Popes." The papers now available enlarge the horizon on Pius XI's pontificate and specify two aspects that were already known for a long time.

Documented, in the first place, is the Vatican's criticism of a passive Mussolini, imitator of Hitler.

Recorded, in the second place, is the concern given the crushing of Italy because of German politics, not only in regard to the racial issue, but more broadly in choosing an alignment fraught with dangerous consequences.

In this connection, Hitler's visit on May 2, 1939 to which you allude, is symptomatic.

The Vatican did not approve of having the German chancellor in Rome.

The Pope's departure for Castel Gandolfo and his allusion to the other cross that was rising over Rome, which was not Christ's, is only an example of a larger theme of unfolding events, such as the controversy over street decorations, over the route Hitler should follow, the instructions to the Italian episcopate and religious not to participate in manifestations of homage to Hitler, and the fear that the Axis would become an alliance.

But also recorded was the Fascists' conviction that the Vatican's anti-Nazi posture not only compromised the attempts to moderate Nazi anger against the German Church, but ended ultimately by favoring the "popular fronts," and, specifically, the "Bolsheviks" and French "Masons" with whose position the Holy See seemed to be in agreement.

Q: What is your assessment of what the documents say about Pius XII?

Napolitano: The proclivities to controversy might now be tempted to launch accusations, according to which the Vatican had a "Hitler's Pope" and a "Mussolini's Pope" and, perhaps, also a "Franco's Pope."

But controversy and ignorance sometimes are related. This is demonstrated in a Sept. 23 article by John Cornwell -- author of the controversial book "Hitler's Pope" -- in the British review The Tablet, in which he writes that the new opening of the Vatican Archives of the period 1922-1939 "is an important event for all researchers interested in the Holy See's relations with Nazi Germany."

Cornwell demonstrates consequently that he is unaware that the Vatican documents on the period 1922-1939 relating to German-Vatican relations were opened in February of 2003. This is an example of a supposed "expert" who is three years behind in regard to history!

To return to more serious matters, Pius XI's pontificate was certainly great, including the way he addressed international affairs, along with his principal collaborator, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII.

There are already -- and others will come -- proofs of the reservations of Pius XI and Cardinal Pacelli vis-à-vis exasperated nationalist phenomena such as Hitlerism. I would not be surprised also to find documentary proofs that deny the old theory that the Vatican was soft toward Nazism and inflexible with Communism.

Thanks to some documents, one can now perceive, for example, the Fascists' judgment on Pius XI: Mussolini always saw the Pope as too aligned against Nazi Germany and too tolerant toward the Bolsheviks. But a more detailed judgment will only be possible when the examination of existing documentation is complete.

Q: What was the relationship like between Pius XI and his secretary of state, Cardinal Pacelli?

Napolitano: I would limit myself for now to verify what the other archives say. In the archive of Italy's Foreign Ministry there is a profile of possible "papables" -- papal candidates -- prepared by Monsignor Enrico Pucci in anticipation of the conclave and given -- perhaps -- to the Italian ambassador in the Vatican, Pignatti Morano de Custoza.

In the profile relating to the future Pius XII, the following is read: "Instead, it seems increasingly clear that the candidate preferred by Pius XI for an eventual succession is Cardinal Pacelli. Pius XI, especially recently, has never missed an occasion to manifest, even in public addresses, the qualities of his immediate collaborator and of showing him his predilection."

The document was published by professor Mario Casella in 2000. The Vatican documents -- and I am thinking especially of the "Diary" of the audiences written by Pacelli -- will undoubtedly confirm this privileged relationship between the Pope and his closest collaborator.

Beyond personal differences, therefore, neither Pius XI nor his successor were Hitler's or Mussolini's Popes.


The Myth of Hitler's Pope:
                             How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews From the Nazis
by David G. Dalin  (Regnery, 209 pages, $27.95)
July/August 2006 issue of The American Spectator.

AS A HISTORIAN OF THE HOLOCAUST, I frequently receive requests from Jewish educators, seeking support for grant applications for their Holocaust programs. Almost all these applications include a sentence about how the new program will inform students that the Pope, and the Vatican, "did nothing" during the Holocaust to help Jews.

The most recent such portrayal reached me while I was writing this review. It is part of a proposal to a major Jewish philanthropic organization, and contains the sentence: "Also discusses the role of the Vatican and the rabidly anti-Semitic Pope Pius XII, who were privy to information regarding the heinous crimes being committed against the Jews, and their indifferent response."

That the Pope and the Vatican were either silent bystanders, or even active collaborators in Hitler's diabolical plan -- and "rabidly anti-Semitic," as stated above -- has become something of a truism in Jewish educational circles, and a powerful, emotional assertion made by American-Jewish writers, lecturers, and educators.

David G. Dalin, professor of history and political science at Ave Maria University, Naples, Florida -- and an ordained rabbi -- demonstrates in his recent book, The Myth of Hitler's Pope, that this is a false and distorted portrayal. He also shows its long pedigree, starting more than 40 years ago, in 1963, with Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy. Although that play was fiction, it was widely regarded as based on fact in its strident assertion of the moral cowardice and silence of Eugenio Pacelli, who in 1939 became Pope as Pius XII.

Since Hochhuth's play, this theme has become commonplace. John Cornwell, a Roman Catholic, in his book Hitler's Pope (1999) blamed Pius XII not only for silence, but for active collaboration with the Nazi regime. Jewish writers have understandably been shocked by the reiterated assertion of papal refusal to help Jews at their time of greatest need. Daniel Goldhagen's book A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair (2002) portrays Pius XII as part of a wider Roman Catholic anti-Semitic tradition that permeated the Church's teachings and was integral -- in Goldhagen's words -- to the very "genesis of the Holocaust."

Dalin takes issue with these critics of Pius XII. Building on earlier documented defenses of Pius XII, including Ronald J. Rychlak's detailed study Hitler, the War, and the Pope (2000), he builds a powerful case for Pius XII, suggesting that the desire of Pope John Paul II to canonize Pius need not have been offensive -- or insensitive -- to Jews, as it was widely portrayed.

THE HISTORICAL RECORD is clear. There can be no minimizing the horrors of those manifestations of Christian anti-Semitism that were a curse in the story of Nazi-dominated Europe. The Polish villagers who murdered their neighbors in Jedwabne had been churchgoers all their lives. The Roman Catholic priests who, on many documented occasions, turned their flocks against the Jews throughout Eastern Europe were ordained in the rites of Rome. The Slovak leader, Father Jozef Tiso, who asked the Germans to deport his Jews to German-occupied Poland and to slave labor -- and death -- was an ordained priest.

But, as I myself pointed out in my book The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust (2003), there was another side to this coin. In France, leaders of the Roman Catholic clergy were outspoken in their condemnation of the deportations. In Italy, churchmen across the whole spectrum of Roman Catholicism, including leading Jesuits, saved Jews from deportation.

Many hundreds of Polish priests and nuns are among more than 5,000 Catholic Poles who have been recognized by the state of Israel for their courage in saving Jews.

Where does this leave Pope Pius XII, the object of so much published hostility, and the main figure in Dalin's short but powerful book? Can Pius really merit the words of Israel's then Foreign Minister, Golda Meir (later Prime Minister of Israel), when she telegraphed to the Vatican on Pius's death in 1958: "When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace."

Those who were in charge of that Nazi terror during the war years held this same view during the war itself. After Pius XII delivered his Christmas message in December 1942, the Reich Security Main Office, the German government department in Berlin responsible for the deportation of the Jews, informed its representatives, who were in charge of encouraging local leaders to permit their Jews to be deported: "In a manner never known before, the Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order.... Here he is virtually accusing the German people of injustice to the Jews, and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals."

This was stern condemnation by the Nazis of a man who is now condemned for the opposite failing. Yet nine months later, Pius XII was to upset the Nazis even more. After the German occupation of Rome and the northern part of Italy, when the SS determined to introduce the Final Solution in all areas of Italy under German military control, Pius and the Vatican took the lead in seeking to frustrate the deportation plan.

A MAIN OBJECT OF SS POLICY in Italy after the German occupation in 1943 was the deportation to Auschwitz of all Jews living in Rome. Margherita Marchione has told this story in Consensus and Controversy: Defending Pope Pius XII (2002). The roundup began without warning at eleven in the evening on October 15, 1943. Between then and one in the afternoon on October 16, one thousand of Rome's 6,000 Jews were arrested and taken to a deportation holding center, the Collegio Militare: their destination (although unknown at the time) was Auschwitz.

News of the start of the round-ups was brought personally to the Pope early on the morning of October 16 by an Italian Catholic princess, Enza Pignatelli Aragona Cortes, who had been alerted by a Jewish friend. Having received the princess early that morning, the Pope immediately instructed the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione, to protest to the German ambassador to the Vatican, Ernst von Weizsacker (a former German Deputy Foreign Minister).

Maglione did so that morning, making it clear to the ambassador that the deportation of Jews was offensive to the Pope. In urging Weizsacker "to try to save these innocent people," Maglione added: "It is sad for the Holy Father, sad beyond imagination, that here in Rome, under the very eyes of the Common Father, that so many people should suffer only because they belong to a specific race."

Following Maglione's appeal, Weizsacker gave orders for a halt to the arrests. To protect those who were thus still in their homes from a possible German reversal of the halt to the deportations, the Pope gave instructions for the Vatican to be opened to Rome's Jews, and for the convents and monasteries of Rome to provide hiding places, or provide false identification papers.

As a result of this papal initiative, in Rome a larger percentage of the Jews were saved than in any other city then under German occupation. Of the 5,715 Roman Jews listed by the Germans for deportation, 4,715 were given shelter in more than 150 Catholic institutions in the city; of these, 477 were given sanctuary within the confines of the Vatican itself.

In reporting on the Maglione-Weizsacker meeting to London two weeks later, the British ambassador noted: "Vatican intervention thus seems to have been effective in saving numbers of these unfortunate people." Of the thousand deportees of October 16, only ten survived. The remaining four-fifths of Rome's Jews were alive at liberation.

A footnote to these events: fifty-one years after Weizsacker's decisive intervention, his son Richard was the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany to visit Israel, and there to express his shame at what Germany had done to the Jews in the Nazi era.

AS THE GERMANS began deporting Jews from other parts of northern Italy, the Pope opened his summer estate at Castel Gandolfo to take in several thousand (women had their babies in the Pope's apartment) and authorized monasteries throughout the German-occupied areas of Italy to do likewise. As a result, while the Germans managed to seize and deport a further 7,000 Italian Jews to their deaths, 35,000 survived the war -- one of the highest ratios of those rescued of any country.

There was to be a further decisive papal rescue action after the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944. Under the leadership of the Pope's senior representative in Budapest, the Papal Nuncio Angelo Rotta, the diplomats of eight neutral countries represented in the Hungarian capital -- including the Swedish ambassador and his staff, prominent among them Per Anger and Raoul Wallenberg -- organized a city-wide rescue scheme.

Under Rotta's energetic lead, an "International Ghetto" was established in the northern section of the city, in which more than 40 safe houses were established, marked by the Vatican emblem, and other national emblems. Into these safe houses -- a series of tall, modern apartment buildings -- 25,000 Jews found refuge, and survived. Elsewhere in Budapest, Roman Catholic institutions hid several thousand more Jews in their cellars and attics.

The influence and authority of Pius XII was wide-ranging. In the port of Fiume, the Italian police chief, Giovanni Palatucci -- the nephew of an Italian bishop, Giuseppe Palatucci -- together with his uncle, saved 5,000 Jews from deportation during the German occupation of the port. They did so by providing the Jews with false identity papers, enabling them to gain safety in the bishop's diocese in southern Italy. For helping the Jews of Fiume, Giovanni Palatucci was arrested by the SS and sent to Dachau, where he was executed.

Pius XII took a direct part in sending money to support the Jewish refugees from Fiume. He also sent considerable sums of money to other rescuers of Jews in Italy, and to the French Capuchin monk, Father Pierre-Marie Benoit, from whose monastery in Marseille several thousand French Jews were smuggled across the borders of neutral Spain and Switzerland.

AMONG THE LEADING Roman Catholic clergymen who helped save Jews was Archbishop Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI. When the government of Israel asked him, in 1955, to accept an award for his rescue work during the Holocaust, Montini replied: "All I did was my duty. And besides I only acted upon orders from the Holy Father."

When the deportation of 80,000 Jews from Slovakia to Auschwitz began in March 1942, Pius authorized formal written protests by both the Vatican secretary of state and the papal representative in the Slovak capital, Bratislava.

When a second round of deportations began in Slovakia the following spring, Pius wrote a letter of protest to the Slovak government. Dated April 7, 1943, it was outspoken and unambiguous. "The Holy See has always entertained the firm hope," Pius wrote, that the Slovak government "would never proceed with the forcible removal of persons belonging to the Jewish race. It is, therefore, with great pain that the Holy See has learned of the continued transfers of such a nature from the territory of the republic."

That pain was "aggravated further," the Pope wrote in this same letter, since it appeared "that the Slovak Government intends to proceed with the total removal of the Jewish residents of Slovakia, not even sparing women and children. The Holy See would fail in its Divine Mandate if it did not deplore these measures, which gravely damage man in his natural right, mainly for the reason that these people belong to a certain race."

Six times the Pope appealed to the Slovak leader -- the Catholic priest Father Tiso -- to halt the deportations. After the sixth appeal, on April 7, 1943, the remaining planned deportations were halted.

On April 8, 1943, the day after his final protest to Father Tiso, Pius XII instructed the Vatican's representative in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, to take "all necessary steps" to support those Bulgarian Jews facing immediate deportation. From Istanbul, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII), a former Papal Nuncio in Bulgaria, and godfather to the king's sons, added his voice to that of Pius XII, urging the King of Bulgaria not to deport the Jews of his kingdom. Roncalli also signed transit visas for Palestine for several thousand Slovak Jewish refugees.

On learning of the plight of Jews in concentration camps in Romanian-occupied Transnistria, Angelo Roncalli contacted Pius XII, who interceded at once with the Romanian authorities, and authorized the dispatch of money to those in the camps. When, in 1957, the Israeli government sought to thank Cardinal Roncalli for his help, the Cardinal replied: "In all those painful matters I referred to the Holy See and afterwards I simply carried out the Pope's orders: first and foremost to save human lives."

Such is the historical record. It explains why Rabbi Dalin is so disturbed by the continuing assertions that Pius XII did nothing to help Jews, was an anti-Semite, and effectively acted as "Hitler's Pope."

AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THIS BOOK is the carefully constructed background to Pius XII's attitude to the Jews, going back to his early days as a young Vatican official. Indeed, from his schooldays, Eugenio Pacelli -- as he then was -- was friends with a Jewish student, Guido Mendes, later a distinguished Roman physician. As a result of this friendship, Pacelli was the first Pope to have shared a Sabbath dinner in his youth at a Jewish home. In 1915, then aged 39, he helped draft Pope Benedict XV's powerful papal denunciation of anti-Semitism in Poland, which insisted that the Christian law to love one another "must be observed and respected in the case of the children of Israel."

In 1919, as Papal Nuncio in Munich, Pacelli defended the Church against the ferocious onslaught of Communism, then -- as in Russia two years earlier -- spearheaded by individual Jews who had long since abandoned their religious faith. But anti-Communism did not make him pro-Nazi or anti-Semitic, as his critics claim. In May 1922, Pacelli warned the Jewish politician Walter Rathenau of an assassination plot by German anti-Semites. A month later, Rathenau was murdered. In November 1923, five days after Hitler's failed attempt to seize power in Munich, Pacelli wrote critically to the Vatican about the Nazi movement, and noted with approval the public defense of Munich's Jews by the city's Catholic archbishop.

In 1933, while serving as Cardinal Secretary of State -- the Vatican's Foreign Minister -- Pacelli negotiated the "Reich Concordat" with Hitler's Germany, determined to protect German Catholics from the anti-religious policies of the new regime. Dalin makes a convincing argument in favor of the Concordat as a protective measure, stressing that it was not a moral endorsement of Nazism. Indeed, from the outset of the anti-Jewish persecutions in Germany, Pacelli opposed them.

On April 4, 1933, three days after the one-day boycott of Jewish shops, Pacelli instructed the Papal Nuncio in Berlin to warn the regime against the persecution of German Jews, asking the nuncio to become actively involved on behalf of the Jews. Four months later he twice expressed to the British ambassador to the Vatican his "disgust and abhorrence" at the Nazi regime. The ambassador reported to the Foreign Office in London -- on August 19, 1933 -- that Pacelli "deplored the action of the German Government at home" including "their persecution of Jews."

In 1936 Pacelli visited the United States. One result of his mission, Dalin notes, was that, at President Roosevelt's personal request, he prevailed upon Father Charles Coughlin, the "radio priest," to end his anti-New Deal -- and also anti-Semitic -- broadcasts. While willing to meet Roosevelt, Pacelli never met Hitler. When, in a much-heralded gesture of friendship, Hitler visited Mussolini in Rome in 1938, Pacelli deliberately absented himself from the city, together with Pope Pius XI.

While Secretary of State, Pacelli made an astonishing 55 protests against Nazi policies, including, repeatedly, the "ideology of race." In 1938 Pacelli publicly endorsed and repeated the words of Pius XI, that "it is impossible for a Christian to take part in anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is inadmissible; spiritually we are all Semites."

So outspoken were Pacelli's criticisms that Hitler's regime lobbied against him, trying to prevent his becoming the successor to Pius XI. When he did become Pope, as Pius XII, in March 1939, Nazi Germany was the only government not to send a representative to his coronation.

IMMEDIATELY UPON BECOMING POPE, Pius XII responded to Mussolini's anti-Jewish legislation by appointing several Jewish scholars who had been dismissed from the university to positions inside the Vatican. Among them was the distinguished Jewish cartographer, Roberto Almagia, a professor at the University of Rome since 1915. On the day after his dismissal, Almagia was appointed director of the geography section of the Vatican library. While working there he completed an exceptional four-volume study of the Vatican's cartographic holdings.

Another dismissed Jewish scholar, Professor Giorgio Levi della Vida, a world authority on Islam, was also given a job in the Vatican library, cataloguing the Arabic manuscripts.

In his first encyclical as Pope, Pius XII specifically rejected Nazism and expressly mentioned the Jews, noting that in the Catholic Church there is "neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision." The head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Mueller, commented that the encyclical was "directed exclusively against Germany." So outspoken was it that the Royal Air Force and the French air force dropped 88,000 copies of it over Germany.

One strong piece of evidence that Dalin produces against the concept of "Hitler's Pope" is the audience granted by Pius XII in March 1940 to the German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, the only senior Nazi official to visit the Vatican during his papacy. After Ribbentrop rebuked the Pope for "siding" with the Allies, the Pope responded by reading from a long list of German atrocities and religious persecution against Christians and Jews, in Germany, and in Poland, which Germany had occupied six months earlier.

The New York Times, under the headline "JEWS' RIGHTS DEFENDED," wrote on March 14, 1940: "The Pontiff, in the burning words he spoke to Herr Ribbentrop about religious persecution, also came to the defense of the Jews in Germany and Poland."

DALIN DRAWS ATTNETION in this book to the man whom he regards as the missing personality in the story: Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, a position of influence in the Muslim world to which Hajj Amin had been appointed by the British in 1922. This senior Muslim prelate met Hitler several times during the war, called openly for the destruction of European Jewry, and intervened with Hitler to prevent rescue efforts.

Having been given an office in wartime Berlin, Hajj Amin mobilized political and military support for the Nazi regime. Traveling to German-occupied Yugoslavia, he helped raise a Muslim Waffen SS company, which turned its savage attentions against both Jews and Serbian Christians. In one of his many broadcasts from Germany to the Middle East, Hajj Amin said of the Jews: "They cannot mix with other nations but live, as parasites among the nations, suck out their blood, embezzle their property, corrupt their morals...." Hitler found the Mufti a useful tool.

In answer to Daniel Goldhagen's charge that the Roman Catholic Church remains a danger to the Jews today, Dalin writes: "It is radical Islam -- Hitler's overt ally in World War II -- not the Catholic Church, that threatens Jews today."

In his book Hitler's Pope, John Cornwell calls Pius XII the "most dangerous" cleric in modern history. Dalin feels that the Mufti is the one who deserves this title. As Dalin writes: "Hitler's mufti is truth. Hitler's pope is myth."

Professor Dalin's book is an essential contribution to our understanding of the reality of Pope Pius XII's support for Jews at their time of greatest danger. Hopefully, his account will replace the divisively harmful version of papal neglect, and even collaboration, that has held the field for far too long.

Sir Martin Gilbert is Winston Churchill''s official biographer and the author of ten books on the Holocaust. His new book, Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction, was published in June by HarperCollins. This review appears in the July/August 2006 issue of The American Spectator.


The Myth of Hitler’s Pope
By Rabbi David G Dalin
256pp | Regnery Publishing | ISBN 0895260344 | US$27.95 | 2005

History in the short term can be fickle with the reputations of good men. Until 1963, Pope Pius XII was always regarded as a defender, even a champion, of the Jews during the Fascist period. Then, in 1963, Rolf Hochhuth, a German playwright, wrote “Der Stellvertreter” (“The Deputy”), a play attacking Pius for his alleged “silence” when the Jewish Holocaust was taking place. Other writers have followed suit, not least John Cornwell to whose recent, much-publicised book, Hitler’’s Pope, the title of this volume alludes.

The author, an ordained rabbi, is a professor of history and political science at Ave Maria University, Florida. His book, which is robust, polemical and argumentative, deploys much documentation to show that the notion of the Holy Father being a Nazi sympathiser and anti-Semite is at best grotesque, at worst deliberately false and mendacious. Given the wealth of evidence he assembles to the contrary, it seems strange that such a fantastic notion should ever have been taken seriously. Rabbi Dalin argues persuasively that it has been used by Western liberals to further their own hidden agenda: an attack on Judaeo-Christian civilisation itself and in particular the bastion of this civilisation, the Catholic Church.

Professor Eamon Duffy, medieval Church historian at Cambridge, has referred to the “repellently illiberal” stance of “angry liberals”. In their attacks on the reputation of Pius XII the ugliness and illiberal nature of this stance is revealed in all its twisted rhetoric and selective evidence. For example, the notorious jacket cover to Cornwell’s book seems to show Pius XII grandly sweeping out of Hitler’s chancellery and being saluted by Nazi guards; in fact the photo was taken in 1927, during the Weimar Republic, when the Pope was papal nuncio; it was deliberately selected by Cornwell for its malign subliminal “message” and the caption given the wrong date of 1939.

Dalin begins by giving an historical survey of the Papacy’s attitude towards the Jews. Compared with the often lamentable record of other Christians, the Popes through the ages appear to have been philo-Semites. Beginning with Gregory the Great in the seventh century, successive Popes promoted enlightened attitudes towards Jews, so that Cecil Roth, the Jewish historian, was to write: “Only Rome…… is free from having been a place of Jewish tragedy.” Indeed, Alexander Borgia, better known for his moral laxity, created the first chair of Hebrew at the University of Rome and during his tenure of office the Jewish population of Rome almost doubled. It was also the Popes who consistently defended the Jews from the scurrilous accusations of ritual murder. In more modern times, Pope Pius X observed: “As far as charity is concerned, the best Christians are the Jews”. In 1916 Pope Benedict XV published a condemnation of anti-Semitism, which was drafted by Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, later to become Pius XII. Pius XI, who succeeded Benedict, studied Hebrew with a local rabbi. It was he who made the famous remark: “Spiritually we are all Semites”. John XXIII (1958-63) blessed Jews leaving a Rome synagogue; John Paul II visited Rome’’s chief synagogue -–– the first Pope ever to do so -- and made a moving pilgrimage to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2000. On his first foreign visit as Pope, in August, Benedict XVI visited a synagogue in Cologne. On inauguration he greeted his “brothers and sisters of the Jewish people.”

Nazi fear of Pius XII

These, then, are the gestures and attitudes of Pius XII’s papal forbears and successors. What of the life and pontificate of this deeply controversial figure of the modern liberal establishment? He, too, studied Hebrew and had many Jewish friends, notably the conductor Bruno Walter, whom he met in 1917 when he was Papal Nuncio to Bavaria. Of 44 speeches he made as Papal Nuncio between 1917 and 1929, forty denounced some aspect of the emerging Nazi ideology. Indeed, the Nazis viewed Pacelli as a “Jew-loving” cardinal. Heydrich, the Nazi SS commander, wrote that “in the long run the Pope in Rome is a greater enemy of National Socialism than Churchill or Roosevelt”. There is evidence of a Nazi plot to kidnap the pontiff, only frustrated by Wolff, the German commander in Rome.

When Pacelli was elected Pope in 1939, Dalin cites a huge amount of evidence for his implacable opposition to Hitler, National Socialism and the anti-Semitic attitude of the Nazi party. The Nazis, the Pope said, were “diabolical” and of Hitler he commented, “This man is capable of trampling on corpses”. When Mussolini’’s Fascist laws forbade Jews to teach in Italian schools or universities, Pius XII promptly appointed several Jewish scholars to posts in the Vatican library. The Times newspaper of London commented on the Pope on 1 October 1942: “He condemns…… the persecution of the Jewish race” and the New York Times described the Pope’s Christmas address of 1941 “a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe”.

Notwithstanding this, the overwhelming historical record of the Pope’s concern for the Jews comes from Jews themselves. It is perverse how who those who perpetuate the ““myth”” ignore the overwhelming documentation in Pius XII’’s favour by the very people he is supposed to have despised.

Setting the record straight

Rabbi Dalin puts the record straight. His best-known source is Three Popes and the Jews by the Jewish diplomat and historian, Pinchas Lapide, which was published in 1967. Weighing all the evidence at his disposal, Lapide calculated that “Pius saved at least 700,000 but possibly 860,000 Jews from death” -–– more than all the other relief agencies put together. This enormous effort was achieved largely through the Church’s own religious houses in Italy and through the Papal nunciatures in other European countries such as Hungary and Bulgaria.

Both Archbishop Roncalli, later to become Pope John XXIII, and Archbishop Montini, later to become Pope Paul VI, were charged by Pius to do what they could to save Jewish lives. The theologian Henri de Lubac SJ, was similarly directed, as were countless other priests and senior members of the Church’s hierarchy. Convents, monasteries and presbyteries all over Europe opened their doors to Jewish fugitives; more than 1,000 found asylum at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and hundreds were hidden in the Vatican itself. It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of Rome’’s Jews were saved by the intervention of the Pope.

Albert Einstein paid tribute to Pius XII as early as 1940, saying that in Germany “only the Catholic Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth”. When Pius died in 1958 he was deeply mourned by the Jews. Golda Meir, then Israel’s foreign minister, wrote to the Vatican: “When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims.” One telling detail is omitted from this well-researched book: after the war the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, converted to Catholicism; in a personal tribute to the Holy Father, he took “Eugenio” as his baptismal name.

So how could the slur of Pius’s “silence” ever gain the slightest credibility? Although the Pope was not silent in his actions, in his directives to Church personnel and in his communications with Allied diplomats, he deliberately refrained from making public statements attacking Hitler during the war. Was this silence culpable? His reason, heavily influenced by Jewish and diplomatic advice, was that not only would a public protest not help the Jews but that it would actually increase their persecution.

The former chief rabbi of Denmark, Marcus Melchior, a Holocaust survivor, argued that “it is an error to think that Pius XII could have had any influence whatsoever. If the Pope had spoken out, Hitler would have massacred more than six million Jews.” When the Dutch bishops did courageously protest against the rounding up of Dutch Jews, the Nazis instantly retaliated by harsher measures. To have excommunicated Hitler -–– a former Catholic -–– would, as historical examples demonstrate, have had a similar effect. Such an imposed silence must have caused the Holy Father great inner agony.

His critics have further attacked the Holy See’s 1933 concordat with Nazi Germany, not accepting, as the author indicates, that is was “a morally defensible diplomatic measure to protect German Catholics…… against a dangerous regime”. It was in no way an endorsement of National Socialism. During the negotiations preceding the concordat, Hitler arrested 92 priests and closed down nine Catholic publications. As the British ambassador to the Vatican, Ivone Kirkpatrick, commented, “A pistol…… had been pointed to his [Cardinal Pacelli’s] head.” Reporting to the Foreign Office on 19 August 1933, Kirkpatrick reported that the Cardinal “deplored the action of the German government at home, their persecution of the Jews……”

Nazi links with Muslim extremists

Dalin has done an excellent job in defending the wartime record of Pius XII. But perhaps the most interesting and significant section of his book is the evidence he produces for a quite different and sinister scenario: the close relationship between Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem from 1922, and Hitler’s Nazi party. He suggests that Pius’’s critics have deliberately deflected blame from pro-Nazi Islamic fundamentalists onto Pius XII. Certainly this thread of the argument was news to me and, I suspect, to many others, but Dalin produces disturbing evidence to support his case. Hajj Amin al-Husseini was known to have met Hitler privately on a number of occasions. He was a friend of Adolf Eichmann and visited Auschwitz. An implacable enemy of the Jews, he supported the destruction of European Jewry and did all he could to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. He made frequent broadcasts on German radio, displaying virulent anti-Semitism with statements such as that the Jews “live as parasites among the nations, suck out their blood, embezzle their property……” Most telling of all in this disturbing and little-known aspect of history: in Egypt in 1946 Hajj Amin al-Husseini met the young Yasser Arafat, who became his protéégé and who later went on to lead Palestinian terrorists in the PLO for 40 years.

The cause for Pius XII’s canonisation is under way. It has been held up by unsubstantiated and malicious accusations over his wartime record. According to Rabbi Dalin, the Pope should be honoured as a “righteous Gentile”, the term given to Christians who risked their own lives to save Jews from the Holocaust. Because of the author’s scholarly research it is to be hoped that history in the long term will be kinder to the reputation of a great and good -– and much-maligned -- man.

Francis Phillips, who is married with eight children, lives in Bucks, in the UK.
Her reviews often appear in British Catholic publications.


Foundation Hails Myth-Debunking Book on Pius XII
Says Rabbi Reveals "Other Side of the Coin"

BUENOS AIRES, AUG. 29, 2006 ( The founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation said a new book written by an American Rabbi on Pope Pius XII reveals another side of the debate surrounding the Pontiff.

Baruj Tenembaum, speaking at an interconfessional meeting in Buenos Aires, said that David Dalin's "The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis" demonstrates that how the Holy Father rescued many Jews from the Holocaust.

The Argentine-born Jew who established the Wallenberg Foundation and the Angelo Roncalli Committee, said that this book reveals "the other side of the coin" of the Pope's relationship with Jews at the height of World War II.

Dalin, professor at Ave Maria University in Florida, analyzes and documents in his book the deportation of Rome's Jews to Auschwitz in 1943.

He includes in his book the Pope's protest made to Ernst von Weizsacker, the German ambassador to the Vatican, through his secretary of state, Cardinal Luigi Maglione.

The cardinal asked the ambassador that they "try to rescue the innocent who suffer for belonging to a specific race."

In response to the cardinal's request, the German ambassador gave orders for the deportation to be halted; and the Pope instructed that the Vatican be opened to hide Rome's Jews, who installed themselves in convents and monasteries of the Vatican, according Dalin's sources.

Of Rome's 5,715 Jews registered by Germany for deportation, 4,715 were sheltered in 150 Catholic institutions, and of the total, 477 were in Vatican sanctuaries. The British ambassador to the Vatican confirmed this fact.

Servant of peace

Dalin also mentions in his book the message sent by Golda Meir, Israel's minister of foreign affairs, on the occasion of the death of Pius XII: "We mourn. We have lost a servant of peace. The Pope's voice during Nazism was clear and in defense of the victims."

Tenembaum clarified that he assumes no role whatsoever in this discussion, but "calls everyone to seek and proclaim the truth, with no prejudices: Only the truth, not sticking to preconceptions or spreading slander! Let us follow the path of reconciliation with open minds!"

He added: "The rhetorical reiteration does not certify conjectures or guarantee truths; we Jews wish to recall and defend the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."


Pius XII hid Jews during war
Philip Crispin
The Roman convent of Santi Quattro Coronati sheltered political fugitives and Jews during the Second World War on the direct orders of Pope Pius XII, according to the diary of one of the Augustinian convent's sisters.

According to the Italian daily La Stampa, which has seen the 60-year-old-plus diary, the Pope, who has often been criticised for keeping his counsel during the Holocaust, instructed the mother superior to open, exceptionally, the enclosure of the contemplative order's convent in order to shelter those fleeing the Germans.

The anonymous author of the journal provides detailed names and dates of more than 10 Jews and non-Jews who were sheltered in the convent from September 1942 to June 1944. One of these was Amalia Viterbo, the Jewish niece of Palmiro Togliatti, one of the creators of the Italian Communist Party and secretary of the Comintern before the Second World War.

The Augustinian sister writes that the Pope wished to save "his children as well as Jews" and ordered that monasteries and enclosures should be opened up to those persecuted.

Later, when the convent superior perceived that the SS were flouting the sanctuary of convent enclosures, she had false identity papers drawn up for her guests.

The diary should interest historians who have been at loggerheads for 60 years over the attitude of Pope Pius XII concerning concentration camps and the Holocaust. Many have accused him of complicity through his silence.


Pius XII beatification on track, says Kasper

Cardinal Walter Kasper has defended the role of Pope Pius XII during World War II but a Jewish expert has called for further argument and debate before any eventual beatification.

The Holy See has stepped up its campaign to rehabilitate the memory of war time pontiff Pope Pius XII - before he is moved further down the track to sainthood and is beatified by the Church, according to a report in The Universe.

Pius XII, who denounced extermination without citing the Jews or Nazis, had to "strike a balance in such a dramatic situation" according to Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican Office for Religious Dialogue with Jews, who spoke at a conference about him at the pontifical Lateran University.

"I think that means he thought stronger words would have had very negative consequences," the Cardinal said.

The controversial Pontiff "silently helped countless victims of persecution," Cardinal Kasper said, revealing that Pius's path to beatification - a halfway house on the way to sainthood - was "proceeding according to the rules and in a very well-pondered way."

Cardinal Kasper said Pius XII did what was "humanly possible" during the difficult years around World War II.

"Right here in Rome, for instance, many Catholics, Jews and even atheists found refuge in convents and other church buildings," he added.

"It is unthinkable that it all happened without the Pope's knowledge. It is unfair to judge Pius by today's standards."

There is concern however that the memory of Pius XII has only been rehabilitated in some limited scholarly circles.

"In the last 10 years we have become more knowledgeable about Pius XII and a great deal of positive and heartening information has emerged," said Rev Jonathan Gorsky, of the Council of Christians and Jews.

"The problem is that this is still not widely known in the Jewish community and by the general public.

"People do not know the stories of rescue of Jews, especially those that took place in Rome, and must have occurred with the knowledge of the Pope. "

Rev Gorsky called for further argument and debate before any eventual beatification.

"I think that at the moment, many Jews would construe a beatification in a way that the Vatican and the Catholic Church certainly do not intend," he added.

It would be very important to encourage Catholics to communicate with Jewish leaders about this before, rather than after, it takes place to make known the reasoning and the understanding behind it. A beatification of Pius XII without this elaborate explanation would result in the same controversy that took place a few years ago."


Rabbi Says Pius XII Deserves "Righteous" Title
David Dalin Makes Case in "Myth of Hitler's Pope"

ROME, JAN. 17, 2006 ( A U.S. rabbi says that the title "Righteous among the Nations" should be conferred on Pope Pius XII for his efforts to defend the Jews during World War II.

Rabbi David Dalin, a professor of history and political science at Ave Maria University in Florida, makes his case in his book "The Myth of Hitler's Pope," published by Regnery.

The work shows that, in the course of history, many popes defended and protected the Jews from accusations and persecutions. It also recounts many incidents which show how Pius XII saved Jews from Nazi persecution.

Rabbi Dalin quotes authoritative studies by Jewish authors, such as Pinchas Lapide's "Rome and the Jews" and "Pius XII and the Jews," written in 1963 by Joseph Lichten, a member of the Anti-Defamation League.

The rabbi also quotes Hungarian historian Jeno Levai who, in the face of accusations of silence against Pius XII, wrote "Hungarian Jewry and the Papacy: Pope Pius XII Did Not Remain Silent. Reports, Documents and Records from Church and State Archives," published in English in 1968. Robert M.W. Kempner, the deputy U.S. counsel during the Nuremberg trials, wrote the introduction to that book.

Martin Gilbert's view

Among recent books, the American rabbi stresses specifically the works of Martin Gilbert, one of the most authoritative living Jewish historians. Gilbert is the official biographer of Winston Churchill and author of more than 70 books on World War II and the Shoah.

Gilbert recounts all that the Catholic Church did in defense of the Jews, opposing racism and Nazism, and affirms that "Pius XII should be praised and not censured."

Rabbi Dalin proposes that Pius XII, for his actions in favor of Jews, be conferred the highest Jewish recognition for a gentile, the title "Righteous among the Nations." Last Nov. 3, the Internet edition of the Jerusalem Post published a positive review of the book.
Pius XII as a "Righteous Gentile"


Scholar Ronald Rychlak Defends Wartime Pope

JACKSON, Mississippi, JAN. 11, 2006 ( Despite what some modern critics say, Pope Pius XII launched a multifaceted response to the Nazi campaign against the Jews.

So says, Ronald Rychlak, an adviser to the Holy See's delegation to the United Nations, University of Mississippi law professor and author of "Righteous Gentiles: How Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church Saved Half a Million Jews from the Nazis".

Rychlak shared with ZENIT some of the information he has amassed in defense of Pius XII and the Church, and how Catholics can respond to detractors.

Q: How is this book different from those that have previously defended Pope Pius XII? What new information does it reveal?

Rychlak: In "Righteous Gentiles" I directly respond to arguments made by the critics of Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church during the Nazi era. I generally tried to avoid doing that in my last book -- "Hitler, the War, and the Pope" -- because I wanted to lay out the facts chronologically and just as they happened.

Philosopher Michael Novak, author of the foreword to "Righteous Gentiles," pointed out that over the past five years there have been so many books and articles that set forth arguments against the Church that a book responding to them had become necessary.

That's what I have tried to do with this book: address each and every argument that has been lodged against Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church during the Holocaust.

As for new information, the first chapter of "Righteous Gentiles" sets forth 18 new pieces of evidence that have come to light in recent years. Each one casts a positive light on Pius XII and the Catholic Church.

The book also discusses Pope Pius XII, the Germany clergy and other rescuers from nations throughout Europe. Those topics have not, for the most part, been discussed in other recent pro-Pius XII books.

Q: How did Pius XII and the Catholic Church respond to Nazi aggression?

Rychlak: Pius XII's response was multifaceted. He opened buildings throughout Rome, providing food, shelter and clothing to all those in need. He also made many statements in opposition to the Nazis and in support of the Jews.

His first encyclical, "Summi Pontificatus" -- released just weeks after the outbreak of war -- expressly mentioned Jews and urged solidarity with all who profess a belief in God. Allied forces later dropped thousands of copies behind enemy lines for propaganda purposes.
In his 1942 Christmas statement, Pius spoke on behalf of "the hundreds of thousands who, through no fault of their own, and solely because of their nation or race, have been condemned to death or progressive extinction."

His 1943 encyclical "Mystici Corporis Christi" explained: "Our paternal love embraces all peoples, whatever their nationality or race." He went on to say that Christ, by his blood, made Jews and Christians one "breaking down the middle wall of partition ... in his flesh by which the two peoples were divided."

Pius XII also used his representatives throughout Europe to intervene on behalf of Jewish victims. He sent open telegrams complaining to collaborating governments and commiserating with the persecuted.

He established the Pontifical Relief Commission which distributed food, medicine and clothing in 40 countries during the war, and he created the Vatican Information Office which supplied information about missing persons and helped reunite families -- all without any discrimination on the basis of race, religion or nationality.

Many Catholic rescuers were inspired by the repeated appeals in support of Jews that were broadcast on Vatican Radio. Some rescuers even testified to direct papal orders that they received to help victimized Jews.

The Pope's position, like his means of inspiring the resistance, was well understood during the war. The New York Times reported that because of him, "hiding someone 'on the run' became the thing to do."

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints, following a 39-year investigation into Pius XII's life, concluded that the only way to save the Jews was with "secret but efficient ways to shelter them, provide them food and clothing, and move them to neutral countries. Pius XII did this in a manner unequaled by any state or organization."

Q: What did you find in your research of Church archives, especially the confidential Vatican report on Pius XII?

Rychlak: I was able to draw upon documents that I saw for the first time in March 2003, when I traveled to Rome to examine materials from newly opened Vatican archives. I returned to Rome in April 2004, at which time I was given extraordinary access to the still-confidential internal Vatican report -- the "positio" -- prepared by historians for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

This eight-volume work includes sworn testimony from about 100 witnesses who knew Pius XII. It also reviews all the scholarship in the area -- critical and supportive -- and looks to the victims, the rescuers and the Nazi villains.

Relying on this evidence, and applying reasonable standards to evaluate his leadership -- as opposed to the ever-shifting and unfair procedures adopted by so many critics -- it sets forth a compelling case that he lived a life of heroic virtue.

Q: Why do so many scholars and critics want to find Pius XII culpable in Nazi atrocities?
Rychlak: The "positio" concludes that there is a campaign to denigrate the personality and work of Pius XII. This should not, I think, be taken as an orchestrated campaign of critics working in conjunction.

Rather, many of the critics share a view of the world that runs counter to the Catholic Church, and they have tried to advance their view and discredit the Church by denigrating Pope Pius XII.

Read through to the end of most of these books and you will find that the authors are critical not only of Pope Pius XII, but also the late Pope John Paul II, the positions expressed by Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, traditional Catholic doctrines of papal supremacy, the all-male priesthood and especially Catholic sexual teachings.

In fact, because the Catholic Church stands as the pre-eminent voice advancing the very concept of ultimate truth, it is their main target -- not Pius or any other individual.

Q: What factual evidence can Catholics cite in response to criticism of Pius XII and the Church during World War II?

Rychlak: Much of the evidence, including sheltering, feeding and clothing the Jews of Rome, is well known. The same goes for his public statements and the offer of gold to pay a ransom so that the Nazis would not deport Roman Jews. The diplomatic protests and radio broadcasts are not as well known, but are just as important.

Some of the newly discovered evidence that is set forth in "Righteous Gentiles" includes letters from Pius XII containing money to be used to help interned Jews.

There is also a 1933 letter from Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli -- the future Pius XII -- instructing the papal representative in Germany to intervene with the Nazi government regarding "anti-Semitic excesses in Germany."

In 1923, Pacelli -- who was then the papal representative in Germany -- wrote to Rome reporting that "right-wing radicals" and "followers of Hitler" were persecuting Catholics and Jews.

He praised the "learned and zealous" archbishop of Munich who had been attacked by the Nazis because he "had denounced the persecutions against the Jews."

Q: Why is Pius XII's exoneration crucial to future Catholic-Jewish relations?

Rychlak: As Jews and Catholics have come together in recent years, this issue has remained a stumbling block. It's unfortunate, because we share so many interests and outlooks. We need to get to the truth, which will permit us to focus on joint efforts and shared heritage.

That, not revision of Catholic doctrine or social teaching, is the important result that should come from honest research into the Catholic Church during the Nazi era.

Q: Why do you think the Jewish people should award Pius XII the title of "Righteous Gentile"?

Rychlak: Since 1963, a commission headed by an Israeli Supreme Court justice has been charged with awarding the title "Righteous among the Nations."

In general, when a non-Jewish person risked his or her life, freedom and safety in order to rescue one or more Jews from the threat of death or deportation, without exacting monetary compensation, the rescuer qualifies for consideration as a "Righteous Gentile."

As Rabbi David Dalin has long asserted, based on the record that we already have, Pope Pius XII fully deserves that designation. I also think that this designation would once-and-for-all resolve the controversy and heal the divisions.

The Holocaust was a horrible era in the history of mankind. The best way to assure that it is not repeated is to deal honestly with the facts.

The victims of that era thanked Pius XII, the rescuers identified him as their inspiration and the Nazis detested him. Those who want to revise history have ignored this evidence.

I hope that "Righteous Gentiles" can, in some small way, help restore the truth.


Radio Moscow Linked to Rumors Against Pius XII
Revelations of Italian Review La Civiltà Cattolica

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2005 ( Newly published research reveals that the "black legend" against Pope Pius XII was launched by Radio Moscow at the end of World War II.

Pius XII, who on his death received tribute from numerous heads of democratic states and from key Jewish representatives, has been described by some publications as an ally of totalitarian regimes. In particular, he has been accused of being "silent" in the face of Nazism.

Now, an article in the latest issue of the Italian review La Civiltà Cattolica, signed by Father Giovanni Sale, analyzes the Communist radio's role in defaming Pius XII, specifically its reaction to the Pope's address of June 2, 1945, the feast of St. Eugene.

On June 7, 1945, Radio Moscow broadcasted a program which "assumed … a paradigmatic value, as it summarized very well the point of view of the radical left about the Holy See's activity during the time of the war," affirms the historical research.

"Those who heard the Pope's address on the occasion of the feast of St. Eugene, have been extremely surprised to learn that the Vatican, during the past years of Hitler's dominance in Europe, acted with courage and audacity against the criminal Nazis. What the Vatican really did states the contrary," claimed Radio Moscow.

"Spread distrust"

"In fact, if the Vatican acted in this way, it did so to maintain the vigilant policy of protection of Hitler and Mussolini," added the Communist radio.

"No atrocity carried out by the Hitlerites stirred the contempt and indignation of the Vatican," Radio Moscow claimed. "The latter was silent when the German death machines were active, when the chimneys of the crematorium ovens spewed smoke, when grenades and projectiles were thrown against the peaceful population of London, when the Hitlerite doctrine of elimination and extermination of nations and peoples was being transformed into a harsh reality."

Radio Moscow lamented that Pius XII was filling his address with allusions against the Soviet Union and international Communism to "provoke differences and spread distrust among the Allies."

The author of the La Civiltà Cattolica article states that "the international Communist press, and not only the latter, was totally aligned to Moscow's directives on this matter."

The article adds: "So began the 'Black Legend' -- which in the main has come down to our days -- of a Pius XII friend and ally of the Nazis; the Pope who supported, for reasons of political interest, the Fascist totalitarian regimes and declared enemies of popular democracy."


Pius XII's Aid to Jews Was So Great That It Stirred Protests

New Revelations of Vatican Archives, Analyzed by Historian

ROME, JULY 4, 2004 ( Documentation from the Vatican Secret Archives has revealed that Pope Pius XII's wartime assistance to Jews was so great that it stirred protests in some Catholic circles.

This is confirmed in letters published together with the registers of the Vatican Information Office on Prisoners of War, established by Pius XII, with the title "Inter Arma Caritas."

Press agencies published one of the letters reproduced in Volume 2, pages 950-951, sent to the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Luigi Maglione, on July 21, 1943, by Archbishop Andrea Cassulo, apostolic nuncio in Romania, in which he referred to "some protests."

Bishop Agostino Pacha of Timisoara, Romania, wrote that in his community there were protests, "as the greater part of messages transmitted to this nunciature are for persons of the Jewish race," to the point that he spoke of the Holy See's "preference" for Jews.

Archbishop Cassulo presented a copy of a letter in Latin, written by a Monsignor Tacha, in which he spoke about the protests of his faithful -- 78% of whom were of German origin -- who accused the Church "openly and publicly" of supporting and having good relations with the Jews, "enemies of the Germanic people."

In the letter, the apostolic nuncio explained that he sent a circular to the Romanian bishops in which he clarified the reasons for the Holy See's assistance "not taking into account any political consideration or any nationality or race." In the missive, the nuncio asked the secretary of state to advise him what he should do.

In order to understand better these new discoveries of the Vatican archives, ZENIT interviewed Father Peter Gumpel, a historian and expert on the matter.

Q: What do the recently published Vatican archives say about the Holy See's relation with Jews and about the protests of some Catholic circles?

Father Gumpel: First of all, it must be recognized that the Catholic Church carried out an enormous work of assistance to Jews.

A. Safran, the rabbi of Romania, expressed on various occasions his gratitude to the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Andrea Cassulo.

On April 7, 1944, he wrote him this message: "In these hard times, our thoughts go more than ever to what the Supreme Pontiff has done in favor of Jews in general and to Your Excellency in favor of Romania and Transylvania. These deeds will never be forgotten." [See Civiltà Cattolica, 1961, Volume 3, p. 462]

Moreover, in Volume 10, pages 428-429, of the "Minutes and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," in a message sent by Archbishop Cassulo to Monsignor Domenico Tardini [a future secretary of state], the full article appears which was published by the Romanian newspaper Mantuirea, in which Rabbi Safran recounts how, thanks to the interventions of the nuncio and "with the help of God, he succeeded in having no more deportations take place."

Q: What can you say about the protests of Catholics because of the Holy See's help to Jews?

Father Gumpel: The work of assistance to the victims of war and to Jews, ordered in particular by Pius XII, was so extensive and intense that it caused surprise even among some ecclesiastics.

When Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli himself [the future Pope John XXIII], who did so much for the Jews, was apostolic delegate in Turkey, after the umpteenth recommendation by the Holy See to help and foster the Jewish emigration to Palestine, he wrote these words to Maglione on September 4, 1943: "I confess that this sending by the Holy See of Jews to Palestine, which seems a reconstruction of the Jewish Kingdom, beginning by making them leave Italy, causes me some uncertainty in spirit."

Q: Do the testimonies contained in "Inter Arma Caritas" contribute something new?

Father Gumpel: These new historical tendencies deny definitively many articles on the alleged silence and insensibility of Pope Pius XII in regard to the Jews. As can be seen, there were people who criticized the Pontiff for doing too much for the Jews.

Also denied are theses, such as Susan Zuccotti's, according to which the work of assistance to Jews was the result of individual actions, of which Pius XII knew nothing.

From all the correspondence of the nuncios, it is obvious that the work of assistance was determined, directed and organized directly by Pope Pius XII.


On Pius XII's Help to Slovakian Jews

Interview With Monsignor Walter Brandmuller

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 7, 2004 ( A new book attests to the Holy See's intervention to prevent the persecution of Jews in Slovakia during World War II.

"The Holocaust in Slovakia and the Catholic Church" ("L'Olocausto nella Slovacchia e la Chiesa Cattolica"), written by Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, was published last July in an Italian translation by the Vatican Publishing House.

Through meticulous historical research, including the use of previously unpublished documents, the book analyzes the position of the Church and the Holy See in the face of the wartime persecution of Jews.

Q: Your book recounts the history of Slovakia in a historical period that goes from 1939 to 1945, analyzing how the Church intervened to rescue Jews persecuted by the Nazis. Can you explain the conclusions you reached in your research?

Monsignor Brandmuller: In my book I attempt, above all, with the necessary brevity, to describe the political, social and religious situation of Slovakia between 1939 and 1945, and to study at the same time the famous persecution measures against Jews.

When speaking later of the reaction of the Catholic Church, I make a distinction between the Church in Slovakia and the Pope, that is, the Holy See.

In regard to the reaction of the Slovakian bishops, clergy and faithful, it is interesting to note that, on one hand, there was inflamed bad humor toward the influence -- perceived as excessive -- of the Jewish section of the population on the economic life of Slovakia. And, on the other, there was a change in this atmosphere in favor of the Jews as soon as the persecution measures were introduced.

Evidently, a distinction must be made here between the large Catholic population and the numerically reduced realm of the nationalists-National Socialists. The latter were on the side of the German National Socialists.

Q: What are the novelties in the historical field contained in your book?

Monsignor Brandmuller: Again in this book there is the fact, for example, that for the first time the texts of communications of the Slovakian bishops are presented, in the form of translations and original documents.

Moreover, it has been possible to analyze documents collected in the Archives of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesial Questions which are still not available for publication. Also the "Actes et Documents du Saint-Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale," already published in 1970-1981, have been used for the first time.

From these sources stems, among other points, a very differentiated assessment of the role that the president of the Slovakian republic, Josef Tiso, a Catholic priest, played in this context.

Q: What was the policy that Pius XII and the Holy See adopted in face of the persecuted, and in what way did they intervene to save the Jews?

Monsignor Brandmuller: The Holy See's policy -- or rather Pope Pius XII's -- consisted in influencing the Slovakian government, through diplomatic channels, in order to impede the persecution of Jews and, in particular, to impede deportations to Polish extermination camps.

In this respect, Vatican diplomacy carried out, under Secretary of State Cardinal [Luigi] Maglione and -- after his death which occurred in 1944 -- under Monsignor Tadini, an excellent role.

Q: What objectives do you hope to achieve with the publication and diffusion of this book?

Monsignor Brandmuller: A careful and impartial reading of the book makes one understand how the appropriate interpretation of the sources lets the contribution of Pius XII and Vatican diplomacy be seen in the just light of rescue of the Jews, against all the accusations and suspicions that have existed.

The gratitude and acknowledgment of the help given to Jews expressed to Pius XII by Jews, both when he was alive as well as after his death, were, therefore, well motivated. Only Rolf Hochhuth's "Vicar" has poured against him what had until then been the positive opinion of the people. One should ask: Why?