I’m reading a book by Sister Marchione on Pius XII. I am floored by how rabidly members of the media have turned on this holy man. My father is Jewish. He seems to have been pretty convinced that Pius’ “silence” contributed to the death of many Jews. Does anyone else have a take on this from either perspective? It seems to be a pretty vicious attack by anti-Catholics. Thoughts?
First, Piux XII wasn’t silent. Read “Mit Brennender Sorge” for a start.
But, what would more talking have done? Brought France into the war sooner? Not a chance. Brought England into the war sooner? Not a chance. Brought the USA into the war sooner? Not a chance. Made the Nazis behave better? Hah!
What exactly was Pius XII supposed to have done to make things better when it took 5 years of total war to finally make the Nazis stop their slaughter?
The Catholic League has a great page dedicated to this very topic.
Great answer Mike. Mit Brennender Sorge- With Great Anxiety was very brave and It is one of the few papal encyclicals in history not written in Latin. It condemned Naziism.
VociMike, I think you misunderstood my post. There is a reason I put silence in quotations. Clearly I don’t believe he was silent. Sister Marchione discusses 12 huge volumes of documents that prove Pius XII was not “silent”. Mit Brenneder Sorge (With Burning Anxiety) is one of the documents the Sister discusses. Although technically, it was written under Pius XI, Pius XII was the Papal Nuncio and wrote this encyclical in large part.
Anyway, I just wanted to say I agree with you. I was really trying to see who those are that disagree with this and what their arguments are.
Yes, I did understand your point of view. My answer was directed at people who hold views similar to your father’s, not at you. Sorry for the confusion.
Ahhhhh. Got it! Well, in that case, EXCELLENT POST!
I agree wholeheartedly that Pius XII has been slandered and that he was a great and good man doing the most difficult job in the world at a crucial point in history. Honest historians, relying on real data, estimate that his actions saved in the neighborhood of 800,000 Jews – and led to the conversion of the Chief Rabbi of Rome – who took the baptismal name “Eugenio” in honor of the Pope.
However, it was Pope Pius XI who wrote Mit Brennender Sorge; it was written in 1937, two years prior to Pius XII’s election.
This being said, Pius XII (then Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli) was Pius XI’s Secretary of State – so his influence in the writing of the document was no doubt enormous.
Pius was hiding Jews in his personal apartments and at Castel Gandolfo. He relaxed the rules of the cloister to allow Jewish refugees to be sheltered in cloistered convents. Catholics were hiding Jews all over the place. Had he spoken out, the Nazis would most likely have started raiding these Catholic hideouts (they did when the Dutch bishops spoke out against Nazi policies). How many more Jews would your father have wanted to die in order to satisfy his demand that Pius XII do some grandstanding?
It is indeed a vicious attack by anti-Catholics. When Pius XII died, there was an outpouring of good words and praise for him from many Jewish authorities, including Golda Meir and Albert Einstein.
I don’t claim to know the details of the authorship, but there’s this from the Catholic League:
“Pope Pius XII knew Germany well, having previously been papal Nuncio there. It was he himself who wrote (after reading the first draft by Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich) the criticism of racial policies in the Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (which means “with burning anxiety” i.e. about the Nazi threat to racial minorities and specifically the Jews) addressed directly to the German people during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI.”
And come to think of it (getting back to the original post), Mit Brennender Sorge didn’t stop the Nazis, did it? Do those who complain about the so-called “silence” think that another encyclical (call it “Mit Really Brennender Sorge”) would have stopped them?
BTW, I also found this article which credits (the future) Pius XII with writing the encyclical: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mit_Brennender_Sorge
Great question. I have asked him that before. I believe his argument is more emotional than based on reason.
We have been discussing Pope Pius XII on CAF thread:
Postpone Move To Beatify Pius Xii, Israeli Envoy Suggests
Do we agree that there would not have been WWII had Christians chosen to not fight for Hitler in his evil unjust war?
Was it mortal sin for Christians to fight and kill for Hitler in His evil unjust war?
To remain faithful and obedient to Jesus, should Italian and German Catholics have accepted martyrdom rather than fight for Hitler?
If even one Christian soul went to hell because they failed to choose martyrdom in faithfulness to Jesus rather than fight for Hitler in his evil unjust war, this soul suffers more death (eternal death) than the combined loss of physical life cut short from all the wars in human history.
As long as Catholics fighting and killing for Hitler in his evil unjust war did not effect Italian and German Christians spiritual obedience and faithfulness to Jesus Christ and their eternal salvation, then and only then can Pope Pius XII be seen as not acting evil in remaining silent to save physical lives.
Please visit CAF thread:
Postpone Move To Beatify Pius Xii, Israeli Envoy Suggests
and make a post as to what you think.
I think a lot of people use your church as a scapegoat.
From what I have read on the subject and admittedly it isn’t a lot, it seems Pius XII chose a path and did all he could. There are quotes from many Jews that thanked him during and after the war for all that he did so I believe that I would take comfort in that fact.
Undoubtedly he could have done things differently but that wouldn’t necessarily mean better.
Seems to me like he did all he could.
It seems to have started with The Deputy (1963), a play by Rolf Hochhuth in which Pope Pius XII was portrayed as an aider and abettor of the Holocaust.
May I recommend (for about the thousandth time, but it’s worth it) Rabbi David Dalin’s 2005 book The Myth of Hitler’s Pope, in which Rabbi Dalin explains why Pius XII deserves to be recognized as a Righteous Gentile.
When Pius XII died, there was an outpouring of good words and praise for him from many Jewish authorities, including Golda Meir and Albert Einstein.
Einstein had been dead 3 years when Pius XII died. You are probably thinking of his outpouring of praise for the Catholic Church’s opposition to the Nazis during the War. I think he was quoted to that effect in a popular American weekly magazine, can’t remember which one.
It is easy to blame Pius XII for not condemning Catholics who fought for Hitler, but you may forget what was done to punish Germany after WW I. Hitler wasn’t followed just because he was a charismatic speaker, many Germans saw him as their savior from the degradation of their homeland by the allied powers, particularly France. Pius XII spoke out in a letter read by the Bishops of Germany early in the war. It accomplished zip except to bring down even more cruelity on Jews and those who opposed the war. One might ask some of the critics what their grandparents did to stop Hitler. Even some Americans saw him as a heroic figure.
My uncles (United States Army), along with millions of other Allied veterans, were the ones who did stop Hitler.
Hitler had the Church (tens of millions of Catholics and Protestants) fighting for him in his evil unjust war. This made it a lot harder for my uncles, along with millions of other Allied veterans, to stop Hitler and rescue the Jews and the world from henious attrocities, but they overcame and succeeded in stopping Hitler.
I know that the Church dearly wants to exalt Pope Pius XII as saving 800,000 Jew’s lives. For Pope Pius’ plan to work he still needed Allied forces to smash through Europe and kill many of the Catholics and Protestants fighting for Hitler’s evil unjust war. So really it is WWII Alied veterans who really saved the 800,000 Jews and the billions of people who lived from the time of Hitler to this day.
Thank you Allied veterans for stopping Hitler and saving us all. Let us hope the world never forgets or gets confused, no matter who Church leaders want to exalt and glorify as being the hero of WWII, as to who actually stopped Hitler.
There is no cause for confusion. Nobody said Pope Pius stopped Hitler. What we are saying – truthfully – is that he personally intervened to save thousands of Jews from deportation and murder.
There was a great program on EWTN one time with an author who demonstrated how distorted the book was making the allegations against Pius. One of the funny ones was the picture (believe on the cover) on the Book Hitlers Pope (???). It shows Pius emergeing from a car surrounded by Nazi soldiers. In point of fact this picture was before Hitler came to power according to the author on EWTN and were just plain German soldiers. It was just a smear job on the part of the anti Pius author. I dislike this sort of manipulation. It reminds me of the Michael Moore garbage. I saw his anti Bush movie and was ticked with Bush. Then I saw some documentation of the disortions like the one with Bush in front of bunches of guys with Tuxedos with Moore implying it was a group of very wealthy behind the scenes supporters (Kabal). In point of fact Gore was at the same meeting (Knights of Columbus or some group). Then I was ticked with Moore but he had me (manipulated the heck out of me).
If someone wants to believe evil things about Pius they will and eat up whatever disotortion is fed to them just like when they hate the Catholic Church- they don’t let facts get in the way.
Pope Pius XII: He Was Indeed “Just Among the Nations”
Yad Vashem is a museum in Israel honoring non-Jews who helped save Jews during the Holocaust. In the interest of strengthening bonds of friendship between Catholics and Jews, I am submitting a request for Yad Vashem to honor Pope Pius XII and I am sending it to the museum along with historical background information, some of which is reproduced below.
Why This Honor Is Deserved
The historical record shows that Pope Pius XII, through his network of apostolic delegates throughout the world, was able to save the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. He is thus eminently qualified to obtain the title “Just Among the Nations.”
About This “Inaction” and “Silence”
The secular press continuously claims that the Catholic Church did not do enough to save Jews during World War II. Furthermore they claim that Pope Pius XII was silent about the persecution and slaughter of the Jews.
We are prompted to ask: Where does the evidence reside? Did the pope ever speak out against the Nazis and for the “voiceless,” the tormented, those who had no other voice to speak out for them? Where was the Church?
One does not have to delve far to uncover some rather startling evidence which the critics seem to blatantly ignore in their denunciation of the pope. But even more striking is that this evidence comes from Jewish and secular sources. The famous Albert Einstein, a Jewish refugee from Germany stated in the December 1940 issue of Time Magazine that he once despised the Catholic Church. He asked where the universities and editors of free speech were during the victimization of the Jews; that it was only the Catholic Church that “stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth.” He then revealed that the Church he once despised he “now praises unreservedly."
But was Albert Einstein an isolated case of a Jew praising the Catholic Church for the saving of Jewish lives during the Second World War? In 1943, Chaim Wiezmann, the future president of Israel wrote, “The Holy See is lending its powerful help wherever it can, to mitigate the fate of my persecuted co-religionists.”