LONDON (Sep. 24)
The Lord Chamberlain’s office announced today that no one under 16 would be permitted to attend performances of the controversial West German play, “The Deputy” which opens here tomorrow night at the Aldwych Theater. The play, written by the German writer, Rolf Hochhut, charges that the late Pope Pius XII failed to protest against the Nazi wartime slaughter of European Jewry.
The ban was imposed largely because of film sequences to be shown between acts of the play. At the Lord Chamberlain’s request, the Royal Shakespeare Company which is putting on the play, also will print on all programs for the performance “an authoritative Catholic opinion” on the issues involved in the play. Each program will include a lengthy letter written by Pope Paul VI to a Catholic publication on June 21.
The letter ends with the words: “Let some men say what they will, the reputation of Pius XII as a true Vicar of Christ as one who tried to carry out, as far as he could the mission entrusted to him, will not be affected. But what is the gain to art and culture when the theater lends itself to injustice of this sort?”
Catholic Archbishop-elect John Heenan was asked today at a press conference what he thought of the play. He replied: “My Jewish friends will say all that is necessary. They know the record of Pius XII. I am happy to let them say whether or nor he was their friend.”
BRITISH DIPLOMAT DEFENDS POPE’S INACTION ON JEWS UNDER NAZIS
In addition to appending Pope Paul’s letter as a supplement to the program, the Royal Shakespeare Company has also included in the supplement quotes from a sharp attack on the play by Desmond Fisher, editor of the Catholic Herald. The play, which is also scheduled to be performed in one of the Broadway theatres in New York this fall, is shown in London under the title “The Representative.”
A strong defense of the late Pope Pius’ wartime attitude toward the Nazis, and a sharp attack on Hochhuth for his play on the topic is contained in a pamphlet written by a former official of the British Legation at the Vatican published today by the Catholic Truth Society.
Sir Alex Randall, former secretary of the legation, accused the West German playwright of “crude bias” and “obsessive dislike” of Pius XII. Sir Alec contended that Hitler could have done even worse since at the time he had several million more Jews in his grasp and that he could have vented his fury on Christians too. The British writer asserted that the Pope had in mind the example of the Dutch hierarchy who “by their vigorous protests against the deportations of Dutch Jews caused the Nazi governor to deport also the Catholic Jews.”
The British diplomat said “it could not be the Pope’s duty to abandon the government of the church and force millions of his spiritual children to choose between patriotism and martyrdom.” He added that after the war, the Pope was thanked for his actions by many Jewish leaders.