"I should like you to take this occasion to express to His Holiness my deeply-felt appreciation of the frequent action which the Holy See has taken on its own initiative in its generous and merciful efforts to render assistance to the victims of racial and religious persecution."
Franklin D. Roosevelt to Myron C. Taylor (August 3, 1944)
". . . I told him [the Pope] that my first duty was to thank him , and through him, the
Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public, for all they had done in the various countries to rescue Jews, to save children, and Jews in general."
Moshe Sharett, First Israeli Foreign Minister (April 1945)
"In all these painful matters, I referred to the Holy See and afterwards I simply carried out
the Pope's orders: first and foremost to save human lives."
Angelo Cardinal Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice, Later Pope John XXIII (1957)
"When fearful martyrdom came to our people, the voice of the
pope was raised for its victims."
Golda Meir, Israeli Foreign Minister (October 9, 1958)
"He was a great and good man, and I loved him."
Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, LONDON SUNDAY TIMES
(October 12, 1958)
"To remember him is piety; to thank him is justice."
Pope Paul VI (January 1964)
"Pope Pius XII did not remain silent."
Jeno Levai (1966)
". . . the Catholic Church, under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII was instrumental in saving
at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000, Jews from certain death at Nazi hands."
Pinchas E. Lapide, THREE POPES AND THE JEWS (1967)
"Pope Pius XII, the one pontiff with whom I was acquainted, was an interesting man who, after 1945, came in for what almost surely is an unfair amount of criticism because he didn't stop the conflict Hitler started and because he didn't do more to save Europe's Jews from Nazi extermination."
C. L. Sulzberger, GO GENTLE INTO THE NIGHT (1976)
"What we can say already, in light of what we have learned, is that the Nazis considered Pius XII and his collaborators as their greatest enemies and that, reciprocally, the Pope and his entourage saw the Nazis as criminals working for the destruction of the Church and civilization."
Jean Chelini, LE FIGARO (October 8, 1983)
"The gratitude [to Pope Pius XII] of the world Jewish leaders, for deeds to which their own
archives are witness, was transformed after 1963 into totally negative commentary. The
well-intentioned, informed world Jewish community was
downgraded to 'disgraceful testimonials of a few Jews' (NEW YORK TIMES, September 27, 1989,
Rev. Robert A. Graham, S. J. (October 1989)
"Anyone who does not limit himself to cheap polemics knows very well what Pius XII thought of
the Nazi regime and how much he did to help countless people persecuted by the regime."
Pope John Paul II (1995)
"In his 1942 Christmas message, which THE NEW YORK TIMES among others extolled, the pope became
the first figure of international stature to condemn what was turning into the Holocaust."
Kenneth Woodward, NEWSWEEK (March 30, 1998)
SOURCES: Pinchas E. Lapide's THREE POPES AND THE JEWS (Hawthorn Books, 1967); Michael
O'Carroll's PIUS XII (Laetare Press, 1980); Robert A. Graham's PIUS XII'S DEFENSE OF JEWS AND
OTHERS (Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, 1987);
and Margherita Marchione's YOURS IS A PRECIOUS WITNESS (Paulist Press,1997).
All those works, mentioned above, in addition to the eleven volumes published by Pierre Blet
and others, ACTES ET DOCUMENTS DU SAINT SIEGE RELATIFS A LA SECONDE GUERRE MONDIALE (Libreria
Editrice Vaticana, 1965-81), especially volumes 6, 8,
9, and 10 which deal with the victims of the war, are based on objective evidence, the
fundamental criterion of all truth. They show that Pope Pius XII and the Vatican, more than any
individual or international agency during those horrible
days of World War II, rose to the challenge of the Holocaust and used the resources of the
Roman Catholic Church to help the Jews. This was at a time when the Pope and the church were
engaged in a struggle for survival against the Nazis who
imprisoned, tortured, and killed thousands of clergy and religious, not to mention many more of
the church's lay persons. Unfortunately, while scholars like Walter Adolph and Ulrich von Hehl
acknowledge this struggle in their studies, others
like John F. Morley and John T. Pawlikowski do not appear to understand this important aspect
of the problem. Of related interest, Ronald J. Rychlak's HITLER, THE WAR, AND THE POPE (2000),
destroys the allegations of writers who attack Pope
Pius XII. More recently (February 16, 2001), in reply to recent attacks on the pope, Antonio
Gaspari came out with a book, THE JEWS SAVED BY PIUS XII, in Italian; Rabbi David G. Dalin has
written "Pius XII and the Jews," THE WEEKLY STANDARD,
6: 23 (February 26, 2001), in which he concludes "Pius XII was, genuinely and profoundly, a
righteous gentile."; and Andrea Tornielli has published in Italian a book entitled PIO XII: IL
PAPA DEGLI EBREI (2001).
BEFORE THE PAPACY OF PIUS XII BEGAN, THERE WERE THESE AMERICAN HEADLINES:
"Nazi Protest U. S. Cardinal's Hitler Attack," Thursday, May 20, 1937, in THE HOUSTON PRESS on
George Cardinal Mundelein
"Assails Nazi Persecution of Jews, Prelate Dares Der Fuhrer
to Complain," Monday, November 4, 1938, in THE BALTIMORE SUN on Archbishop Michael J. Curley of
PAPAL DIPLOMATS WHO HELPED JEWS:
Filippo Bernardini in Switzerland
Giuseppe Burzio in Slovakia
Andrea Cassulo in Rumania
Angelo Roncalli in Turkey
Angelo Rota in Hungary
Valerio Valeri in France
FRENCH BISHOPS WHO HELPED JEWS:
Pierre-Marie Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons
Archbishop Jules Saliege of Toulouse
Bishop Pierre Theas of Montaubaum
HUNGARIAN BISHOPS WHO HELPED JEWS:
Bishop Vilmos Apor of Gyor
Archbishop Jozsef Mindszenty of Veszprem
ITALIAN PRELATES WHO HELPED JEWS:
Archbishop Pietro Boetto of Genoa
Archbishop Elia Dalla Costa of Florence
Bishop Federico Dalla Zuanno of Cardi
Archbishop Maurillo Fossati of Turin
Bishop Giuseppe Placido Nicolini of Assisi
Bishop Antonio Santin of Trieste
Archbishop Ildefonso Schuster of Milan
Bishop Antonio Torrini of Lucca
Archbishop Mario Vianello of Perugia
POLISH BISHOPS WHO HELPED JEWS:
Archbishop Romuald Jalbrzykowski of Wilno
Bishop Teodor Kubina of Czestochowa
Bishop Jan Kanty Lorek of Sandomierz
Bishop Stanislaw Lukomski of Lomza
Bishop Karol Niemira of Pinsk
Archbishop Adam Sapieha of Krakow
Archbishop Boleslaw Twardowski of Lwow
OTHER PRELATES WHO HELPED JEWS:
Archbishop Jozef-Ernest van Roey of Antwerp
Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac of Zagreb
Archbishop Andrzey Szeptyckyj of Lwow
A KEY JESUIT WHO HELPED JEWS:
Pietro Tacchi Venturi
KEY CATHOLICS WHO SAVED JEWS:
Pere Marie-Benoit / Padre Benedetti
Aristides de Sousa Mendes
LITTLE KNOWN FACTS:
1. In two of the seven plots to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Pius XII was involved in at least two.
2. Bishops in the Third Reich who vigorously opposed the Nazis: Wilhelm Berning of Osnabruck,
Clement von Galen of Munster, Joseph Machens of Hildesheim, Johannes B. Sproll of Rottenburg,
and Konrad von Preysing of Berlin.
3. More than 4,000 priests were killed by the Nazis, including 868 Poles at Dachau, 780 from
various nations at Mauthausen, and 123 shot in France (one estimate holds that at least 4,000
were killed at Buchenwald alone).
4. Israel Zoller (Zolli), Rome's Chief Rabbi, converted and took the same baptismal name as the
pope, Eugenio, in appreciation of all that Pius XII had done for the Jews.
Jewish scholars like Pinchas Lapide and Jeno Levai do not agree with those Jewish critics of
the Pope since the archives of Yad Vashem support Pius as the major protector of the Jews
thereby underscoring the validity of the Vatican documents.
Refer comments and questions to
Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J.
Copyright © 2000-2001.
In LA CIVILTA CATTOLICA (March 21, 1998), Pierre Blet, one of the original editors of those documents, said: "But when a legend is created from unrelated elements and with the aid of imagination, discussion is meaningless. The only thing possible is to counter the myth with the historical reality proved by incontestable documentation. For this reason, Pope Paul VI, who as Substitute of the Secretariat of State had been one of the closest collaborators of Pius XII, as early as 1964 authorized the publication of the documents of the Holy See relating to the Second World War."
The members of the Catholic-Jewish Commission set up in November of 1999 to review those same documents are three Catholic scholars: Eva Fleishner, Gerald Fogarty, and John Morley; and three Jewish scholars: Michael Marrus, Bernard Suchecky, and Robert Wistrich. In addition to the sources already given on the main site, these works might prove helpful on the Vatican documents: John S. Conway's, "Records and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," YAD VASHEM STUDIES, 15 (1983), 327-345; Pierre Blet, PIUS XII AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR (1999), and the preliminary report of the commission, "The Vatican and the Holocaust," made public on October 25, 2000, which can be found on the web at the site of B'nai B'rith International.
NOTE: The primary concern of these eleven volumes (mentioned earlier in this site) is with Vatican documents. For example, v. 8, p. 466, refers to the controversial letter of Gerhart Riegner of the World Jewish Congress about the Nazi extermination of Jews, but it was not published in these volumes because it had been published in Saul Friedlander's PIUS XII AND THE THIRD REICH (1964), pp. 105-109. To paraphrase Pierre Blet, even if "a smoking gun" were to be found in a review of the Vatican Archives, it is not clear how this would absolve Pius XII of his alleged failure during World War II.
Doubts, then, about the validity of the documents published by the Holy See are just ways of perpetuating "the black legend" about Pope Pius XII. "Every historian knows that once a story or a legend is out there, you can't kill it," said the historian Peter Hoffman (INSIDE THE VATICAN / February 2000). "Never. You can come up with the best arguments, it will stay there, especially if it's one that goes down easily." At the same time, historians must beware of documents that have been fabricated during the Cold War in both Eastern and Western Europe against the Catholic Church. In this connection, it shoud be noted that Robert A. Graham exposed Virgilio Scattolini's fabrications in LA CIVILTA CATTOLICA (1973, III: 467-478 [also reported by Agostino Bono, THE BOSTON GLOBE, February 1, 1992]), including the allegation (US NEWS & WORLD REPORT, 30 MARCH 1998) that the Vatican had stashed away gold taken from the Jews during the Holocaust or other stories circulated by certain writers like Avro Manhattan and Edmond Paris that one Dragutin Kamber (1901-1969) was a Jesuit who was a leader of the executions that took place in the concentration camp at Jasenovac in Croatia during World War II (see "The Inventions and Lies of Dr. [Milan] Bulajic on the Internet" refuted by Vladimir Zergavic in 1997). If such writers can be found lacking in the essential components of historical accuracy, specifically, knowledge and truth, how can they really be trusted to portray what really happened in the past? Unfortunately, these historians have their own agenda and have forgotten that in historical research, objective evidence is the fundamental criterion of all truth.
Next Page: Pope Pius XII and the State of Israel