July 23, 2013


Not Hitler's Pope : What history taught Pius XII about resisting tyrants (JOHN RODDEN AND JOHN ROSSI • July 17, 2013, American Conservative)

Ever since the appearance of Rolf Hochhuth's play, "The Deputy," in 1963, the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII have been excoriated for their silence before the horrors of the Holocaust.

Recent revelations, based on interviews with a Romanian spymaster, indicate that Hochhuth may have been the dupe of a clever KGB plot to undermine the influence of the Vatican after World War II. But for the last half century, Hochhuth's charge has put the Vatican on the defensive, particularly during the last decade, when a firestorm of international controversy accompanied Pope Benedict XVI's approval of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints' recommendation to name Pius XII "venerable," a step towards possible canonization. That move triggered new rounds of recrimination about the Vatican's alleged callousness toward Hitler's victims, especially Jews, and about the historical issues surrounding Pius XII's dealings with the Nazis.

Yet lately the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial began softening its view of Pius XII. The wall text criticizing him for not speaking out against Nazi treatment of the Jews has been retitled from "Pope Pius and the Holocaust" to "The Vatican and the Holocaust." Significantly, Pius's message of Christmas 1942 is now highlighted, in particular his declaration that "hundreds of thousands of persons, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or ethnic origin, have been consigned to death or slow decline."

The New York Times at the time observed of Pius XII's Christmas address, "This Christmas more than ever he is a lonely voice crying out in the silence of a continent." Pius XII's message was carefully analyzed by Reinhard Heydrich's branch of the SS, which saw the pope's message as an attack on the Nazi regime and its anti-Semitism. Calling the Christmas address "a masterpiece of clerical falsification," the SS reported that the "Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order" and noted his assertion that "all peoples and races are worthy of the same consideration." "Here," they argued, "he is clearly speaking of the Jews."

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Posted by at July 23, 2013 5:14 AM

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