PIUS XII AND THE HOLOCAUST, Myth and Reality
By Jesus J. Chao
5 of 11
The Pope was well aware that any public denunciation against Hitler would make things even worse for the Jews. His polices were aimed at saving of the Jews. In fact, that was the same policy followed by the International Red Cross and the World Council of Churches both based in Geneva as well as the one recommended by the International Jewish organizations involved in the rescue operations of Jews. Gerhart Riegner, the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, accepted the validity of this policy –preferring action rather than words, as the common goal.
Historian Fr. W. Sanders has stated that we must remember that any defiance of the Nazi regime meant immediate and severe retaliation. Jean Bernard, Catholic Bishop of Luxembourg, who was detained at Dachau, later wrote: "The detained priests trembled every time news reached us of some protest by a religious authority, but particularly by the Vatican. We all had the impression that our warders made us atone heavily for the fury these protest evoke (on them.)" (6)
Fr. Robert A.Graham, S.J., has said that: "it may surprise the contemporary generation to learn that the local Jewish communities and the world Jewish bodies did not, for the most part, urge the Pope to speak out. Their objective was far more concrete and down-to-earth… Appeals to world opinion, high-sounding though it may appear, would have seemed cheap and trivial gestures to those engaged in rescue work…The need to refrain from provocative public statements at such a delicate moments was fully recognized in Jewish circles." (7)
When an Italian priest, Fr. Scavizzi, a chaplain on a military train travelling through Poland, told the Pope of the conditions in the camps, especially of the Jews, the Holy Father broke down and wept. Bitterly, Pius XII confided to him: "After many tears and many prayers I have judged that a protest of mine not only would fail to help anyone, but would create even more fury against the Jews, multiplying acts of cruelty. Perhaps my solemn protest would have earned me praise from the civilized world, but it would also have brought more implacable persecution of the Jews… I love the Jews." (8)
Ø Massive onslaught of Jews and Catholics after Dutch Bishops publicly protested Jewish deportations
The Pope knew first hand of the results of open confrontation with the Nazis. The Catholic clergy of Holland protested more loudly, and frequently against Jewish persecutions than the Catholic hierarchy of any other Nazi-occupied country. The end result was that over 110,000, or 80 percent of all the Jews, were deported to death camps, even more, in comparison, than anywhere else in the West. The reprisal included also thousands of Catholics, including the distinguished Catholic Carmelite philosopher Edith Stein, a converted Jew. In fact, Pius XII had his own even stronger protest ready to be published that very evening in the L’Osservatore Romano. But he had the draft burnt saying: "If the protest of the Catholic Bishops has cost the lives of 40,000 people, my intervention would take at least 200,000 to their deaths." (9) Without an army to support him, the struggle was fought through diplomatic and humanitarian channels, and through covert actions, that risked the neutral status of the Vatican State.
The Protestant Dutch Reformed Church refrained from protesting openly the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews, as a result, the lives of the Jews converted to the Reformed Church were spared, and none was deported to the concentration camps. In Germany, most of the Protestants not only supported Hitler, but many of them became part of the political German Protestant church, the so-called "German Christians", under a "Bishop of the Reich" imposed by the Nazis. The German authorities had repeatedly complained to the Papal Nuncio that "the Catholic clergy were unwilling or slow to celebrate their military victories, whereas the Protestant ministers did so." Nevertheless a small minority of anti-Nazis Protestants existed under the leadership of the great evangelical theologians, Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as the hero of the German resistance, the pastor of Dahlem, Rev. Martin Niemoller.
With the existing proven facts, can in all consciousness, truly be said that Pope Pius XII remained silent throughout WWII while millions of Jews and gentiles were exterminated? I do not think so. The Pope was not silent during WWII, he was not even neutral-he was on the Allies’ side.
1. Pius XII and the Holocaust, Myth and Reality
2. Pius XII & the Holocaust - Historical Frame
3. Pius XII and the Holocaust - 1933
4. Was Pius XII "Hitler's Pope"
5. Were Pius XII and the Church really silent during the Holocaust?
6. The Allies were slow in responding to the Pleas of the Jews
7. Pius XII - The forgotten victims of the Holocaust
8. The Rescue of the Jews: The Holy See made every possible effort to help the Jews
9. Pius XII and the Resistance
10. Pius XII- Allies slow in responding to the pleas of the Jews
11. Pius XII - Conclusion
Copyright © 2000 Jesus J. Chao
Printed on June 13, 2001 by Leap of Faith- www.faithleap.org with Permission from Mr. Jesus J. Chao.
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