Pope Pius XII revisited

The debate over what Pope Pius XII did or didn’t do to save the Jews during the Nazi era continues to roil. The latest effort to cleanse the record of the pope who is on the path to sainthood came at a symposium in Rome this week where an American Jew led the charge. As reported by NCR Cafe, an online Catholic publication:

Organizers published a 200-page glossy book offering documentation of Pius’ efforts to save Jews, including transcripts of eyewitnesses and previously secret material culled from diplomatic archives in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The case for the defense of Pius XII, as presented during the conference, is highly complex, but in essence it pivots on three claims:

• Charges that Pius XII was “silent” are false, because he spoke on numerous occasions in defense of Jews, in ways that were abundantly clear to everyone at the time and for decades afterwards;
• If he did not directly and dramatically condemn Hitler or National Socialism, it was because he had well-founded fears that doing so might unleash greater persecution upon both Catholics and Jews;
• Behind the scenes, he mobilized church resources in multiple ways to save Jews.

Jews, meanwhile, continue to challenge the Vatican to open up its archives before it moves to canonize Pius XII. For more on the debate, read this.

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