Who Pope Pius XII Guilty in WWII?
Is it possible that one of the most powerful men in the world, Pope Pius XII, did nothing to help the Jews during the Holocaust? Did a man who wielded such authority just turn a blind eye to all the death and destruction. Worse yet, could he have worked deals with the Nazis in order to procure safety and riches for the Vatican? These and many other charges have been fired against Pope Pius XII, but are they true?
The truth is that nobody believed or even heard these charges until 1963. Rather, everyone in the world, even Jewish people, honored Pope Pius XII as a hero. The first charge invented against the pope emerged in the early 1960s with the release of a theatrical play called, “The Deputy.” This play was written by a Protestant who accused the pope of complying with the Nazis through silence – by doing nothing to help the Jewish people and their plight. After this accusation was launched, severe criticism of the pope and the Vatican grew into a firestorm and has resulted in many all-out smear campaigns for the last 50 years.
In actuality, it is all untrue, and the facts may be verified by anyone interested in understanding the truth. What Jews say now, and what they proclaimed then are two different realities. That the pope was silent and did nothing to help the Jews is the farthest thing from the truth.
So, let’s look at those facts……
Fact: Pope Pius XII did more to help the Jews than anyone else, including any organization or government. Even when he was Cardinal Eugene Pacelli, he spoke out loudly and strongly against the Nazi’s.
When Pacelli became Pope Pius XII, he continued to speak out strongly and created quite a stir for a long time. It is no secret that the Nazis hated the pope and wanted to do away with him. We have many letters which verify this fact and reveal their disdain for him.
After a while, the Nazis warned the pope and the Catholic Church to stop speaking out or face severe consequences. One famous example was in Holland. The church there refused to stop speaking out against the Nazis. As a result, not only did Jews die (including Ann Frank), but thousands of Catholics died along side them (including Edith Stein who had converted to Catholicism). The Nazis promised that if anyone spoke out against their regime, they would die along with the people closest to them. Thus, continuing to do so only proved to agitate the situation and bring about more death.
From that time on, Pope Pius XII developed a new, much more effective strategy. In fact, it saved close to a million Jewish lives, about 800,000 to be exact. Countless Jews, including many of the ones that the Pope personally hid in his own residence, all agreed that the pope’s speaking out would only make things worse. The Jews of the day admired the way he silently labored to save lives, and they praised him for the way he served their people. What did the pope do exactly?
The Pius Truth:
- Pope Pius XII secretly opened the monasteries and convents around different parts of Europe (France, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc). Even cloisters and people’s personal homes were opened, and in all these places, the Church safely hid thousands of Jews. The pope himself opened up the Vatican to the Jews and thousands more took refuge there.
- The pope was also actively involved in secretive negotiations to help save Jews from being killed and/or deported; just for example, 20,000 Jews in Italian prison camps, 8,000 Jews from Holland, and thousands of Jews from other countries.
How could anyone claim that the pope was indifferent, quiet, or that he did nothing to help people who were killed before his eyes? Nothing could be more erroneous.
More Evidence in favor of Pope Pius XII:
- The head Rabbi of Rome, Abraham Zolli was so inspired by the example and work of Pope Pius XII that he ended up researching and converting to the Catholic Church after the war ended.
- Likewise, the chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog praised the efforts of the pope and didn’t hesitate to proclaim him and the good he did.
- After the death of Pius XII, there were many prominent Jewish leaders and laymen who praised his efforts and successes. They honored him highly. Even Golda Meir, Israel’s delegate to the UN and future Prime Minister of Israel, gave Pius XII strong praise for his outstanding work in helping the Jews and for his efforts in speaking out.
- Most people don’t realize that shortly after the war, the World Jewish Congress gave Pius XII two million Lira as a gift of thanksgiving for all he did to help the Jewish people.
- Even Jewish scientist, Albert Einstein published an article in Time Magazine praising the efforts of the Church in helping Jewish people everywhere. He said, “I looked to newspapers and editorials, but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for surprising truth. I had never any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom…” (Pope Fiction, pg. 304).
- Perhaps one of the clearest signs is this: After World War II ended, the government of Israel estimated that pope Pius XII saved about 800,000 Jewish lives during the Holocaust, more than every other religious organization combined. In the pope’s honor, the Israeli government planted 800,000 trees to represent all the lives he saved through his untiring effort and hard work.
That the pope did nothing is the farthest thing from the truth. That the pope silently turned a blind eye to the horror is just not true. The pope was in the trenches, on the front lines, and doing what it took to save as many Jews as possible. Thus, Pius XII should not be smeared falsely, but should be honored, in the highest.
For more information on Pius XII: See the books, Pope Fiction, by Patrick Madrid; Pius the XII and the Holocaust, by Robert Graham.
Also check out a great article by Jimmy Akin called, How Pius XII Protected the Jews.