Pope Pius XII: NOT a Nazi

‘Hitler’s Pope’? False!

Pope Pius XII

A Conservative Blog for Peace supports Sister Margherita Marchione’s excellent work defending Pope Pius XII against the relatively recent accusations (since 1963 when the play The Deputy, a work of fiction, came out) that he abetted the Nazi murder of Jews. The fact is, especially after the Nazis occupied Rome itself, he was in a Catch-22 much like the Russian patriarchal locum tenens and patriarchs under the Soviets — when he DID speak out (like about Holland in 1942), MORE people were deported to the death camps. One must understand the CONTEXT when he was silent — and even after 1942 he often wasn’t as the headlines below show.

Many thanks to Jim Carew, SFO (Franciscan tertiary) of Usenet for the headlines, writings and quotations below

Here is what the news reported about the Pope at the time:

"Vatican Radio denounces Nazi acts in Poland"
Jewish Advocate, Boston, 26 January 1940

"Laval spurns Pope; 25,000 Jews in France arrested for deportation"
Canadian Jewish Chronicle, 4 September 1942

"Vatican gives assurance of aid to Jews"
California Jewish Voice, 12 February 1943

"Jewish hostages in Rome: Vatican protests"
Jewish Chronicle, London, 29 October 1943

"Hungary gets Pope's appeal"
Jewish Advocate, 20 July 1944

"TRUE BROTHERHOOD. With Rome liberated, it has been determined, indeed, that 7,000 of Italy's 40,000 Jews owe their lives to the Vatican..... Placing these golden deeds alongside the intercession of Pope Pius XII with the regent of Hungary on behalf of Hungarian Jews, we feel an immeasurable degree of gratitude towards our Catholic brethren."
The American Israelite, Cincinnati, 27 July 1944

"Adherents of all creeds and parties will recall how Pius XII faced the responsibilities of his exalted office with courage and devotion. Before, during and after the Second World War, he constantly preached the message of peace. Confronted by the monstrous cruelties of Nazism, Fascism and Communism, he repeatedly proclaimed the virtues of humanity and compassion."
The Jewish Chronicle, London, 10 October 1958

In 1995 the World Council of Jews declared that it was satisfied, from evidence revealed by its own investigations, that the Catholic Church was responsible for saving at least 850,000 Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Look at what happened to the Jews in the Netherlands when the Catholic Church spoke out. When it became known on June 29th 1942, that all Jews in the Netherlands were to be deported, the Catholic Church and nine Protestant churches sent a formal protest telegram to "Reichskommissar" Seyss-Inquart, and three other high officials on July 10th.

In this telegram the 10 churches stated:

Ηθ their condemnation of the measures taken against the Jews before June 29th, i.e. the exclusion of the Jews in the Netherlands from their normal life;

Ηθ their horror about the announced deportations "against the deepest moral and religious obligations" of mankind.

They requested from these authorities:

Ηθ revocation of these measures — (and alas by hindsight) to prevent that the Jews, that are now members of their churches "would be cut off from their church life".

It also became known to the occupation authorities that this protest should be read in all church services on Sunday, 26th July 1942.

Under heavy pressure from the Reichskommissar the biggest Protestant church, the Dutch Reformed Church, fearing reprisals to its 600 Jewish members, issued a watered-down version of the protest telegram to be read during the services, in which the word protest was replaced by "request and worry"- and more directed to God than to the authorities. The eight other Protestant churches and the Catholic Church refused to alter their protest.

The revenge of the Reichskommissar was directed only against the Catholic Church:

On Sunday, August 2nd, 245 Catholic Jews were arrested by the Sicherheitspolizei and the Ordnungspolizei. After the release of 44 Jews because of "mixed marriages", 201 were sent to the transit camp Westerbork.

From this number 133 were deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor, mostly in that same month, including Dr. Edith Stein (St Teresia Benedicta) and many nuns and priests in their religious clothing with a bright yellow star on it. I do not know if their were any survivors from this last number. Nothing was reported in the official, censored, press in the Netherlands, but the illegal press reported it.

My source: Dr. L. de Jong, "Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog", Book VI, page 12-20.

AMSTERDAM: Location: capital of the Netherlands:

Jewish Presence: from the 1590s
Jewish Population, 1941: 79,352
Fate of the Jews during WWII: many were deported to extermination camps.
Post-war: 12,000 Jews in 1970s.


By George Sim Johnston


"In 1942 the Catholic hierarchy of Amsterdam spoke out vigorously against the Nazi treatment of the Jews. The Nazi response was a redoubling of roundups and deportations; by the end of the war, 86% of the Jews in Amsterdam had been killed. Jewish relief officials were in complete agreement that a public Vatican attack on the Nazis would not have the slightest effect on Hitler yet would jeopardize the lives of Jews hidden by the Church."


(As compared to the deportation of 2,000 (28%) of Rome’s 7,000 Jews)

(Mr Johnston is a New York–based contributing editor of the Catholic monthly Crisis.)

Before WWII, the Pope condemned the Nazi glorification of race, nation and state as a perversion of the divine order. However, during WWII, Pius XII did not publicly condemn the persecution of Jews and did not authorize any rescue attempts. His policy was later criticized, the controversy embarrassing the Catholic Church

One reason was because the Allied Governments would not give him any such venture. See below:

Subject: Why Pope Pius the 12th did not name Jews in his pronouncements

Excerpt from "The Real Story of Pius XII and the Jews"
By James Bogle
(Barrister of the Middle Temple, and former Cavalry officer)
From: Catalyst, Vol. 23, No. 10, December 1996


Rev Fr Jean Charles-Roux, now a Rosininian priest living in London and whose father was French Ambassador to the Holy See in the ’30s, lived with his family in Rome during the fateful pre-war period. He recalls that the Pope told his father as early as 1935 that the new regime in Germany was 'diabolical'. The Ambassador frequently warned his government but the general reaction in France seems to have been that it was good to see the back of the Prussian militarist and that it was no bad thing that an Austrian-Czech house painter was now Chancellor.

The reaction in the USA and Britain was scarcely different at that time; and even later when they must have begun to know about the camps.

The US government accepted a total of 10-15,000 Jewish refugees throughout the whole war — a truly scandalous statistic. Britain was little better and before the war the government had been full of ‘appeasers’; the Duke of Windsor visited Hitler and Lloyd George even went so far as to call him 'the greatest living German'! Ambassador Charles-Roux's own government in Paris (and the British government) were deaf to the pleas of the Vatican to assist the German internal resistance to the Nazi government.

From the very beginning Pius XII tried to persuade the Allied governments to support the German opposition to Hitler, but since they would not listen to men like the Anglican Bishop Bell of Chichester or to the few Jews who had escaped from Germany to Britain and America, they would not and did not listen to a Pope. Men like Adam von Trott zu Sulz (he had been a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol), Peter Yorek von Wartenburg and many other leading Germans who later formed the Kreisau circle, made continuous, repeated, energetic and ultimately futile attempts to reach and persuade the British government to back, or even talk with, the German resistance to Hitler.

They were all killed in the 20th July plot to assassinate Hitler, the last in a long line of foiled attempts to get rid of the dictator, which was triggered by the Roman Catholic officer, Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg. Stauffenberg was shot out of hand. Other conspirators were not so lucky. They were tried by the infamous 'People's Court' and hanged by piano wire from butchers' hooks at Ploetzensce prison. This was filmed on Hitler's orders so that he could watch it himself later.

Pius XII was a highly active, energetic and zealous opponent of totalitarianism and oppression. Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical letter Mit Brennender Sorge in 1937 because he was then the ruling Pope; but it was Cardinal Pacelli, later Pius XII, who wrote it. The German Roman Catholic hierarchy thanked Pope Pius XI for the letter, which condemned racism and anti-Semitism roundly, and the Pope pointed to Cardinal Pacelli saying it was he had been responsible for it. Pius XII's first encyclical in 1939, Summi Pontificatus, repeated the theme and the Gestapo were immediately given orders by the Nazi leadership to prevent its distribution.

Thereafter, Pius XII adopted his policy of not naming the Jews explicitly. This was partly because of his experience of the diplomatic ‘deafness’ of the Allied governments and partly because of his knowledge and experience of the increased persecution of Jews which followed the condemnatory statements made in the two mentioned encyclicals. He devoted himself instead to the covert rescue operation which resulted in the saving of approximately 800,000 Jewish lives during WWII.


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