October 18, 2015


Pius XII, co-conspirator in tyrannicide (George Weigel, October 13, 2015, Catholic Difference)

When Italy declared war on the Allies - after the initial, swift success of the German invasion of the Low Countries and France seemed to suggest who was going to win World War II - Allied diplomats accredited to the Holy See but living in Rome fled into the Vatican and were housed there throughout the war. So did democratically-minded Italians on Mussolini's hit list - like Alcide de Gasperi, who would become Italy's first post-war Christian Democratic prime minister.

Another boundary of consequence was defined by the walls surrounding the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo. Thousands of Italian Jews were hidden there, and dozens of babies were born in Pope Pius XII's bedroom, some of them given the names "Eugenio" or "Eugenia" in honor of the pontiff who saved their parents's lives.

These facts of Pius's actions, like his quiet orders to hide Roman Jews in Catholic facilities, are reasonably well-known, if often ignored in the polemics that surround the debate over Pius XII's and the Holy See's actions (or inactions, or silences) during the war. A new book by intelligence specialist Mark Riebling, Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler (Basic Books), adds a mass of new evidence to what we know, now, about what the Pope and the Church did to deal with the mortal threat to civilization posed by Hitler and German National Socialism.

In a word: Pius was complicit in a variety of plots, initiated by patriotic, anti-Nazi Germans, to assassinate Hitler and replace the Nazi regime with a government that would make peace with the West.

Posted by at October 18, 2015 5:00 PM

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