In the June issue of AD2000 I read with interest Michael Daniel's review of Ralph McInerny's The Defamation of Pius XII.
This review brought back memories of several books I read on this subject some years ago. I would like to share with readers a few thoughts from some of them.
Bishop Lucker of New Ulm writes of Pope Pius XII during World War II:
"Some say he didn't speak out forcefully enough or even that he was silent in the face of the Nazi regime in Germany, especially in the mass slaughter of the Jews of Europe ... I believe that Pius XII did in fact speak out against the Nazi and Fascist regimes ... Through him hundreds of thousands of Jews were protected in the Vatican and in convents and monasteries of Rome and elsewhere, saving them from deportation and death. For this he was acknowledged and thanked by Jewish leaders throughout the world after World War II."
Pincha Lapide, author of The Last Three Popes and the Jews, was a former Israeli consul in Milan. He made extensive use of Zionist Central Archives and accounts from survivors. Lapide demonstrates that the Catholic Church was instrumental in saving 860,000 lives - more than all the other churches, religious institutions and rescue organisations combined.
Lapide neither received nor asked for assistance from the Vatican. He felt that a vindication of the Catholic policy, particularly under Pius XII must be made by a Jew using only Jewish sources.
"Papal caution and circumspection saved close to 90 percent of Roman Jewry; would papal clamour have saved more - or conversely, would it have endangered those Jews, then in precarious hiding?
"One of the Jews who lived through the Roman round-up of October 1943 and safely reached Spain a few weeks later, thanks to Pius XII's personal intervention, has a cogent reply: 'None of us wanted the Pope to speak out openly. We were all fugitives and we did not want to be pointed out as such. The Gestapo would only have increased and intensified its inquisition. If the Pope had protested, all the attention would have been turned to Rome. It was much better that the Pope kept silent. We all felt the same, and today we still believe that,' said A. Wolfsson in March 1963."
BR CON MOLONEY CFC
St Joseph's Nudgee College