Pope Benedict XVI Praises Pope Pius XII

by Mike on October 9, 2008

in Religion

Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI expressed support for the beatification of Pope Pius XII. This is raising eyebrows in some media circles. After all, Pope Pius XII has been the frequent target of Church opponents, like John Cornwell, who claim that he did not do enough to protect Jews during the Holocaust. This is false. As Pope Benedict explained today, Pius XII did speak out against the Holocaust while it happened:

“With a voice broken with emotion, he deplored the situation of ‘hundreds of thousands of persons, who, for no fault of their own, only for reason of nationality or ethnic roots, were destined for death or for steady deterioration,’ with clear reference to the deportation and extermination carried out against Jews,” Pope Benedict said quoting from the speech.

Now it’s true that Pius XII could have been more open in his words and in the decisions he made, but what church opponents often fail to consider (which is easy to do in hindsight) is the delicate balancing act Pius had to perform. Again, Pope Benedict:

Pius XII “often acted in a secret and silent way precisely because, given the concrete situations of that complex historic moment, he knew intuitively that only in this way he could avoid the worse, and save the biggest number possible of Jews,” he said.

With the Vatican and other Church institutions surrounded by a fascist military, action seen as too forceful could have led to military crackdown that would have endangered Jewish people. Pope Pius’ critics never seem to mention that Pius XII secretly ordered Catholic convents across Nazi-occupied territory to hide Jewish people from those who would send them to concentration camps. His critics are also silent on the fact that Pope Pius rarely visited his summer residence because he was hiding thousands of Jewish people there. There are many more facts that seem to have slipped the minds of Pius’ opponents. Rabbi David Dalin has an excellent piece on the many facts those who slander Pius choose to ignore.

It’s a shame when dishonest rewrite history to slander those who work for and accomplish good in the world. Thankfully there are Jewish leaders like Rabbi Dalin correcting the record. Thankfully, the current Pope is a man who never flinches in conveying what is.

If your interested in a more in-depth look at Dalin’s take on Pope Pius, check out his book on the subject: “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis.

UPDATE: I just learned a lesson.  When referring to a book, make sure to look at its cover rather than Amazon’s description.  Sorry for the error.  Post now reflects the correct title of Dalin’s book.  Special thanks to In Partibus Infidelium for catching my mistake. 

Reuters photo

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

In partibus infidelium October 11, 2008 at 3:50 am

My copy of Rabbi David Dalin’s book is entitled “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope – How Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis”. I gather that Mr Cornwell is an ex-priest and a journalist, and follows in the footsteps of of Hochuth whose play “The Representative” was the first publication to criticise Pius XII. From the end of the war until the 60′s only the Communists, encountering Catholic opposition in Eastern Europe, sought to attack the Pope. Jews generally and the State of Israel thanked him for those whom he had saved. Hochuth’s attack was eagerly taken up by secularists and communists, often themselves anti-semitic in their viscious attacks on the State of Israel, in an attempt to discredit the Church.


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