Monday, March 15, 2010

Pope Pius XII

The other day a friend of mine at work told me he saw a show on the History Channel about one of the battles of WWII. In the show, they claimed that Pope Pius XII was rather friendly toward the Nazi ideology. I knew that was wrong because I had heard that Pope Pius XII was a great savior of many Jews during the War. So I wrote this little document to defend him and sent it to my friend:

"Pope Pius XII has been hailed as a great savior of the Jews during WWII. In his Christmas message in 1941, he spoke out against the Nazis, and on Christmas Day, the New York Times called him “a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas” who “put himself squarely against Hitlerism”. Later he would not speak out as boldly because he would work quietly to save the Jews and did not want to jeopardize these efforts. He ordered churches to issue baptismal certificates and passports to thousands of Jews and other refugees, and hid them throughout the city of Rome. Rome, of all the occupied cities, saved the highest percentage of its Jews. He saved so many thousands of Jews that the October 1958 Jewish Post claimed, “There probably was not a single ruler of our generation who did more to help the Jews in their hour of greatest tragedy, during the Nazi occupation of Europe, than the late Pope.” His example prompted the chief rabbi of Rome at the time, Rabbi Zolli, to become Catholic; he took the pope’s first name, Eugenio, as his confirmation name.

All this “anti-Pope Pius XII” propaganda is made up to attack the Catholic Church (It began with a 1963 play entitled “The Deputy”, by a German playwright, and continued with works such as “Hitler’s Pope” by anti-Catholic John Cornwell. Rabbi David G. Dalin responded to this by writing “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope”.). The reality is, he did his best to save the Jewish people.

A secular article:

A Catholic article:

Here is a blog that has the text from the New York Times article:
The New York Times website:

I, being the crazy person I am, actually called in to the Catholic radio station, Catholic Answers Live, on Thursday afternoon and posed this question. You can hear the audio of that radio show here:
Go to March 11, 2010 and click on Tim Staples.  Then you can click on whichever version you can listen to on your computer.  I enter the conversation almost exactly in the center of the show (click just a little right of center), after a caller named Eddie.

After I asked the question on Pope Pius XII on the radio show, I also asked another about papal infallibility. While the Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, or from the chair of Saint Peter, he is infallible at other times as well. The criteria: he must be speaking on a matter of faith and morals (any other subject does not qualify), he is speaking to the entire church (not secretly or to an individual), he is doing it freely (without someone holding a gun to his head), and he uses language such as “I so declare…” While the Pope has only spoken ex cathedra twice in all of history, there have been other infallible statements made, and many more than ten. The pope is not impeccable, however, and his a sinful human, as we all are, and can certainly be in the wrong. Saint Peter, our first pope, denied Christ three times, yet, through the Holy Spirit, he was still a great leader.

Encyclical Letter On the Church and the German Reich by Pope Pius XI with Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII:

Pope Pius XII Christmas message 1942:

Another article:

I couldn’t find the text of his Christmas message 1941, except in French, Italian, and Spanish. I am working on it though, as I would like to read it."

Anyway, that is the extent of what I wrote to my friend. Pope Pius XII will probably have plenty of people who blame him for many evils. I guess we can expect it though; remember: "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first... Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." John 15:18,20

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