Friday, September 17, 2010

Pius XII and the Distorting Ellipsis - from First Things

This article is a timely reminder of the demands of accuracy in reading and translating documentary evidence.  Pacelli's speeches made in Budapest at the Eucharistic Congress in May 1938 are of interest in gauging something of his understanding of the lurch from crisis to crisis on the continent. 

It is interesting though, that niether Rychlak or Doino make no mention of the antisemitic legislation promulgated in the Hungarian parliament passed with the votes of most of the Catholic bishops who sat in the chamber. Nor do the authors express comment at the context surrounding Pacelli's public addresses in a country that begun a serious process of civil exclusion of Hungarian Jewry. 

The Cardinal preached on the Church's duty in the world.  "The Church's duty in the apostolic service of justice is typified by universal love; it is therefore impossible for it to take sides and rigidly stand by any party." (reported in the London Tablet June 4, 1938).  It would be difficult to see how a diplomat of such political astuteness as Pacelli could not have known of Hungary's antisemitic legislation and the fundamental injustice that it had wrought on Hungarian society through the application of Horthy's Christian National Principle.  Jews were being forced out of public life, excluded from universities and the professions.  Conversion provided a way out, but this was to prove a short-lived reprieve.

So, yes, the article is a useful reminder about translation, but it also reminds the reader of the dangers of leaving out significant contextual events that can place Pacelli's speech into a more accurate sphere.

Pius XII and the Distorting Ellipsis

Sep 16, 2010

Ronald J. Rychlak and William Doino, Jr.

As charge after charge that Pope Pius XII failed to resist the Germans or even that he was indeed “Hitler’s Pope” has been refuted, the critics have advanced new and more remote accusations. First, critics attacked him for what he said or did (or failed to say or do) during the war. When those accusations were proved to be without merit, they charged him with failures after the war.

When those were refuted, they shifted to the pope’s actions before he was pope. John Cornwell, the author of Hitler’s Pope, based his case on two letters, one written in 1917 and the other in 1919. On The O’Reilly Factor, he agreed that action to thwart Hitler would have to have been taken by 1933, and that the pope could have done nothing in 1938 or 1939. Pius XII did not become pope until 1939.

The current charge claims that in a presentation Pius XII gave at an International Eucharistic Congress in Hungary in 1938—when he was still Eugenio Pacelli, Vatican Secretary of State—he referred to Jews as enemies of Christ and the Catholic Church. (It should be noted that the Germans had refused to send a delegation to the congress when they learned that Pacelli would be there, and permitted no news of it to be transmitted in Germany. Pacelli had, after all, berated them the year before when he went to France for the Pope.)

The critics claim that on May 25, 1938, just after the Anschluss (the German annexation of Austria), but before the Shoah or even the outbreak of World War II, Pacelli said:

Jesus conquers! He who so often was the recipient of the rage of his enemies, he who suffered the persecutions of those of whom he was one, he shall be triumphant in the future as well. . . . As opposed to the foes of Jesus, who cried out to his face, “Crucify him!” we sing him hymns of our loyalty and our love. We act in this fashion, not out of bitterness, not out of a sense of superiority, not out of arrogance toward those whose lips curse him and whose hearts reject him even today.

One major critic of Pius, Moshe Y. Herczl, claimed that Pacelli was clearly assailing Jews: “Pacelli relied on his audience, realizing that hints would suffice. . . . He was sure that his audience understood him well.” Cornwell concurred: “Pacelli, representative of the Pope at the Eucharistic congress, was making it clear that the ‘comprehensive love’ he preached at the meeting did not include the Jews.” Michael Phayer added that Pacelli, was “making reference to Jews ‘whose lips curse [Christ] and whose hearts reject him even today.’”

There is reason to be suspicious of this quotation, and the anti-Semitic interpretation applied to it.

First, no one at the time thought that Pacelli was speaking of Jews. He spoke of the “military godless” and those who wanted to “impose a new Christianity,” statements applicable only to the Communists and Nazis. Time magazine reported on the Eucharistic Congress and noted that while the host cardinal’s opening speech had “contained no hint of the fact that he is firmly anti-Nazi,”

Papal Legate Pacelli, without descending from the high religious plane of the Congress, was more specific about Catholicism’s enemies “the lugubrious array of the militant godless, shaking the clenched fist of anti-Christ.” Cried he: “Where now are Herod and Pilate, Nero and Diocletian, and Julian the Apostate, and all the persecutors of the First Century? St. Ambrose replies: ‘The Christians who have been massacred have won the victory; the vanquished were their persecutors.’ Ashes and dust are the enemies of Christianity; ashes and dust are all that they have desired, pursued perhaps even tasted for a short moment of power and terrestrial glory.”

Second, look at the quotation the papal critics use. One has to wonder what the ellipsis is replacing. Despite the importance of this quotation to the argument of many papal critics, it seems that none of them traced it back to its origin.

Recently on the Australian blog Galus Australis, for example, Gabriel Wilensky wrote: “[W]ho cares if the conference was about atheist Nazis or the health benefits of eating spinach?” Wilensky, author of a book titled Six Million Crucifixions, continued: “The pope was talking about the Jews. The pope was not referring to Nazi lips that curse Christ and Nazi hearts who still reject Christ even today. He was referring to the Jews. You know this.”

A defender of Pius, Gary Krupp, asked Wilensky whether he had reviewed the original text of the speech. Wilensky admitted that he did not have “the entire speech . . . nor do I have the original quotes in French. I assume you ask for the original in French for the sake of archival completeness, and not because you suspect the paragraph I quoted is mistranslated and/or is a misrepresentation of the original?”

Krupp, of course did suspect a mistranslation (or worse), and he was right.

With the assistance of Vatican historian (and relator of Pope Pius XII’s sainthood cause) Fr. Peter Gumpel, we reviewed the text of the speech as it was published in Discorsi e Panegirici. The quote as given by the critics does not appear therein. The ellipsis was used to link very diverse passages from different pages of Pacelli’s speech, producing a complete distortion of Pacelli’s words. (To be certain that we were not overlooking anything, we reviewed transcripts from all seven of the talks he gave in Hungary.)

Early in the talk, Pacelli spoke about biblical history. He recalled the Passion of Christ, and he mentioned the defiance of disciples, the solitude of Gethsemane, the crowning of thorns, the cynicism of Herod, and the opportunism of Pilate.

He referred to the masses that called for the Crucifixion and said they had been “deceived and excited by propaganda, lies, insults and imprecations at the foot of the Cross.” Those identified as enemies of Christ included Pontius Pilate, Herod, the Roman soldiers, the Sanhedrin, and their followers. He did not call out “all Jews” or “the Jews.”

About two pages later in the manuscript, Pacelli referred to those who were persecuting the Church at that time by doing things like expelling religion and perverting Christianity. Jews were not doing this, but Nazi Germany certainly was. The future pope was clearly equating the Nazis, not Jews, to those who persecuted the Church at earlier times.

Pacelli then returned to the theme of Christ’s sufferings during the Passion which were being repeated against the Mystical Body of Christ in modern times contrasting them with the Church’s offering of love: “Let us replace the cry of ‘Crucify’ made by Christ’s enemies, with the ‘Hosanna’ of our fidelity and our love.” Pacelli was rebuking the totalitarians of his day, not the Jews of earlier times.

Nowhere in the address did he mention or single out Jews as the specific, much less sole, enemies of Jesus Christ, past or present. Nowhere did he depict them as speaking “ out to his face,” or cite any passages from Scripture (e.g., Mathew 27: 26: “His blood be on us, and our children”) that have been misread for centuries to foment anti-Semitism. There is no legitimate way to argue that Pacelli was blaming Jews when he spoke about the enemies of Christ.

Where did the distorted quotation come from? The first use in English was by Herczl, in his Christianity and the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry (1993). Perhaps Herczl himself or the people who helped with the book falsified the quotation, but that seems unlikely. All are or were successful professionals who had no logical reason to manipulate the quotation. He, and those who have used the quote since, however, accepted too uncritically a very unreliable source.

Herczl was not present at the speech and did not even look at Pacelli’s script which can be found in Discorsi e Panegirici, a collection of Pius’s early writings first published in 1939, or even the Italian version that appeared in the Vatican newspaper. In his book, he cited a Hungarian newspaper, Nemzeti Ujsag (National Journal), with a long and controversial history as a political outlet.

According to Herczl, at the time in question Nemzeti Ujsag called itself “The Political Christian Daily Newspaper,” and he described it as “the semi-official newspaper of the Catholic Church.” That is in keeping with what National Socialists claimed at that time, which was the kind of lie Pacelli complained about in his talk.

The evidence is against Herczl. As its name implies and as numerous articles in the newspaper itself attest, Nemzeti Ujsag was a political journal, not a religious one. It was, at least in the relevant years, overtly anti-Semitic and truly despicable. Randolph L. Braham, a noted scholar in the field, called it a voice of National Socialism. Herczl himself notes that the newspaper could be considered as part of an anti-Semitic coalition, along with the “Awakening Hungarians,” an early fascist group, and the Christian Socialists, which were in Hungary strongly anti-Semitic.

It is likely that the newspaper manufactured the quotation to support its anti-Semitic position. Pacelli, after all, was criticizing the exact political position the paper held. Then as now, Vatican support was a very useful thing to claim.

Herczl and those who followed him should have been skeptical of this source. Neither he nor anyone else would have accepted what that paper said about Jews, yet with several other reliable sources available, why did he turn to an unreliable source for this crucial information about Pacelli? More importantly, why have critics like Phayer and Cornwell simply repeated the charge, relying upon this English translation of a Hebrew translation from a Hungarian translation of a speech originally made in French by a native Italian speaker?

The manufactured quotation blatantly distorted the words of the future pope. Inasmuch that quote was inconsistent with so much other evidence of Pacelli’s character, it should have been strictly scrutinized. Instead it was readily accepted and insufficiently analyzed by critics eager to discredit the papacy and the Catholic Church. They should be ashamed.

Ronald J. Rychlak is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law. His most recent book is a revised and expanded edition of Hitler, the War, and the Pope (OSV). William Doino, Jr., is a contributor to The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII (Lexington Books).


The Time magazine report on the Eucharistic Congress, Religion: Eucharist in Budapest.

The exchange between Wilensky and Krupp.

Ronald L. Braham The Christian Churches of Hungary and the Holocaust.

William Doino’s Pius XII Did Help the Jews from The Times.

William Doino’s The Silence of Saul Friedlander from “On the Square.”

For an extensive collection of articles on the subject from all sides, see Pius XII and the Holocaust.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Pope and Devil" More reviews.

Hubert Wolf's book is receiving considerable well-deserved international attention. 

This selection of reviews is taken from Amazon's page on the book.

The Vatican’s dealings with the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich have long been swathed in myth and speculation. After almost seventy years, the crucial records for the years leading up to 1939 were finally opened to the public, revealing the bitter conflicts that raged behind the walls of the Holy See. Anti-Semites and philo-Semites, adroit diplomats and dogmatic fundamentalists, influential bishops and powerful cardinals argued passionately over the best way to contend with the intellectual and political currents of the modern age: liberalism, communism, fascism, and National Socialism. Hubert Wolf explains why a philo-Semitic association was dissolved even as anti-Semitism was condemned, how the Vatican concluded a concordat with the Third Reich in 1933, why Hitler’s Mein Kampf was never proscribed by the Church, and what factors surrounded the Pope’s silence on the persecution of the Jews.

In rich detail, Wolf presents astonishing findings from the recently opened Vatican archives—discoveries that clarify the relations between National Socialism and the Vatican. He illuminates the thinking of the popes, cardinals, and bishops who saw themselves in a historic struggle against evil. Never have the inner workings of the Vatican—its most important decisions and actions—been portrayed so fully and vividly.

Author: Hubert Wolf is Professor of Church History at the University of M√ľnster.


“Pope and Devil is a must-read for anybody interested in the Vatican’s relationship with Germany in the tumultuous years leading up to World War II, including the hotly debated issue of ‘the silence of Pius XII.’ This book brings new complexity and insight to the debate on Pius XII’s ‘silence.’”—John W. O’Malley, S.J., author of What Happened at Vatican II

“[An] excellent examination of the Pius XI archives...No stranger to the dark side of church history, and intimately familiar with ecclesiastical dogma, politics, and procedure, Wolf presents sensitive material with admirable evenhandedness, avoiding both apology and easy condemnation...Pope and Devil gives us a behind-the-scenes exploration of what made the Vatican tick, providing the sort of background information with which political historians contextualize the decisions of secular leaders like Churchill or Roosevelt. Wolf shows that in the last months of his life Ratti became consumed with the issue of Nazi-inspired racism, and devoted much of his waning energy to it; while Pacelli, for his part, "was clear in his rejection of racial anti-Semitism, and...believed that the church had a general responsibility to support human rights." Both men, however, understood their responsibilities in the light of traditional Catholic priorities. Both viewed Catholic dogma as immutable; and both consistently put Catholic institutional objectives--understood as an essential requirement of salvation--first and foremost.”—Michael R. Marrus, Commonweal

“Hubert Wolf’s extraordinarily lucid and well-researched Pope and Devil performs the much valued task of throwing light into dark corners sans the sensationalism and tendentious argumentation that have defined too much scholarship in the area...Pope and Devil takes the reader through the labyrinthine corridors of Vatican diplomacy in the 1920s and 1930s, the political turmoil that defined those papal strategies that tried to make sense of or at least limit the damage of the rising totalitarianism inundating Europe, and the intrigue and politicking that characterized the often fraught relationship among such parties as the nuncios or Vatican ambassadors in Berlin and Munich, the papal Secretary of State and the Head of the Supreme Congregation more commonly known as the Holy Office of the Roman Inquisition. No easy feat and Wolf manages it in a way that is both enlightening and entertaining.”—Michael W. Higgins, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal

“The Vatican’s dealings with the Third Reich during the reign of Pius XII’s predecessor, Pius XI (1922-1939), have received rather less attention. But since the archives for that pontificate were opened in 2006, our understanding has increased enormously. Herbert Wolf’s book contributes greatly to that understanding.”—John Pollard, Times Higher Education

“Wolf’s absorbing study shows in fascinating detail how ready Pius XI was to sup with authoritarian devils of both left and right in hopes of striking the best balance he could.”—Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman

“Wolf has written a very important book. It does not explain the ‘silence’ of Pius VII, though it certainly exonerates him of the charge that he was in any way sympathetic to the regime in Germany. It also reveals a man with a misplaced confidence in his own competence.”—Michael Walsh, The Tablet

Friday, September 10, 2010

La Shana Tova

Today is the second day of Tishri and the second day of Rosh Hashana 5771. 

Leshana Tova Tikoseiv Vesichoseim Le'Alter LeChaim Tovim U'Leshalom "May you be inscribed and sealed for a Good Year and for a Good and Peaceful Life"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Secretary's Notes - Pacelli and Pius XI

In late August a news article was published online describing a new set of documents compiled from the Vatican Secret Archives.  The one I use here cam via the Irish blog Clerical Whispers  It is of considerable interest. 

The documents refer to the notes Pacelli took during his private audiences with Pius XI over the years 1930 until 1939.  Pacelli was a detail-oriented man; he recorded excellent notes which makes it easier for the historian to piece together aspects of papal decision making processes that have sometime been rather opaque and hard to understand. 

Hubert Wolf makes salient comments on these documents in his book Pope and Devil (2010).  One of the points the following article does not mention, and which Wolf writes about at some length, is the absence of notes at particular moments such as September 1935 when the Nuremberg Laws were passed.  It could be that Pacelli was on vacation or it could be that no notes were recorded because the matter was not discussed.  I hope more material will surface to help us understand more completely how Pius XI and his Secretary of State operated. 

Nonetheless, the collecting and publishing of these texts will be of value to historians.  As I have mentioned before, the wait for the records from the war years is a good thing if it challenges students and scholars to read the available material thoroughly and critically.

The article:

While recently released documentation written by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli in the 1930's does little to dispel the "black legend" of Pope Pius XII, it does provide insight into his character.

During the 10 years he served as secretary of state to Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, took detailed notes of the Pontiff's every audience.

L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) welcomed the release of what are called the "audience pages" in an extensive spread in their Sunday edition.

The "pages" were the notes taken by Pope Pius XI's secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, during private daily audiences between himself and the Pope as well as those the Pontiff had with diplomats, Church officials and others.

Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII, documented 1,956 such audiences over the course of the decade he served as secretary of state, from 1930-39. He left 2,627 pages of notes which have been collected, edited and now published by representatives from the Vatican's Secret Archives.

LOR's director, Gian Vian, called the entries an "until now unknown source of extraordinary interest for contemporary history."

The collection, he said, "with precision and immediacy, takes account of numerous questions, illuminating the routine work procedure in the heart of the Holy See. Through this emerges the wise energy of government of Pius XI, alongside the intelligence and absolute loyalty of Pacelli."

Current Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wrote in the publication's preface that the documentation bears witness to the "thousands and thousands of issues (which) occupied the time and thought of Pius XI and Cardinal Pacelli over so many years … "

The subjects, he explained, range "from the most minute requests for subsidies ... to the relevant ecclesiastical and political questions, so much more complicated as the years advanced that separated the wounds of the First World War from those of the Second."

Cardinal Bertone also pointed out that with the passage of time, through documentation such as this, the future Pope Pius XII's "human and Christian stature, as a diplomat, secretary of state and Pontiff, beyond preconceived and distorted 'colorings,' is ever better delineated."

Many people impatiently await the release of documents from the Vatican archives, which they hope will shed light on Pius XII's actions during the Second World War.

He has been labeled 'the silent Pope" or "Hitler's Pope" by critics for allegedly remaining "quiet" as the Holocaust took so many lives, including those of more than 1,000 Roman Jews who were deported to Auschwitz in Oct. 1943.

But many other scholars, led by Pope Benedict XVI, continue to staunchly defend the war-time Pope for having done what was within his power to provide aid, assistance and protection to all civilians, including Jews, often in secrecy.

The lack of open access to the Vatican archives concerning Pius XII's pontificate has left many questions in the air, but answers appear to be on the horizon as the Holy See is working to organize and release the extensive war-time documentation in the coming years.

Few answers, however, will be found in this regard in this most recent publication, as the prefect of the Archives, Archbishop Sergio Pagano, explained in an additional LOR article.

The point of the notes, he said, was to document issues dealing principally with the correspondence between the secretariat of state and a variety of ecclesiastic, government and civil offices and individuals.

He explained that while "it's obvious to think that subjects of politics or government of the Church, (and) obviously even more relevant (issues), were the subject of the attention of the Pope and his secretary of state ... at least as far as we can say today, Pacelli did not take notes (of these conversations), or at the most he limited himself to writing some annotations on the very documents that were the object of discussion."

Concluding, Archbishop Pagano noted the diligence of the future Pope during his meetings with Pope Pius XI, saying that "no one" at that time in the secretariat of state documented "with equal systematic method, continuity and precision as did the secretary of state Pacelli."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Responding to Gary Krupp

After yesterday's post I received an email from Gary Krupp, founder of Pave The Way, on organisation with an impressive record of philanthropic work designed to build bridges between, among others, different faith communities.  PTW has invested much time and effort in collecting an enormous amount of data on Eugenio Pacelli.  I have corresponded with Gary over the last couple of years and while I respect his desire to build bridges over Pius XII, I do not agree with the conclusions PTW have reached and published. 

After reading Gary's email, which is published below in the previous post, I thought that his challenges deserved a more serious response.

My comments appear in red type.

Paul, Let me make this simple for you. Here are just a few of the actual documents, which support Michael Hesemann's claim:

The documents presented consist of -

1.  A dispatch list, dated 30 November 1938, indicating, in Italian, to whom a message was to be sent.  In this case it is the list of Nuncios and Apostolic Delegates asking their assistance in helping persecuted converted Jews from Italy and Germany.  (It is reproduced in Actes et Documents Volume 6, pages 49-50)  It was sent under Pacelli's signature.

2.  Document 9 January 1939.  Latin letter requesting in the name of the Pope, Pius XI, the formation of assistance committees for non-Aryan converts.  (ADSS 6, pages 48-49)

3.  A dispatch list, dated 9 January 1939, indicating, in Italian, to whom the previous appeal was to be sent.

4. Letter 16 January 1939, in English, from the Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland, Andrew Thomas McDonald OSB (1871-1950) acknowledging receipt of Pacelli's letter.  McDonald informed Pacelli that a committee to assist the "stricken sufferers" has been operating for several weeks.  McDonald said he would try to encourage a national response.

5. Cutting from The Irish Press, 10 December 1938.  Report on the London meeting to address the worsening situation in Germany attended by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Arthur Hinsley.  Cardinal Pacelli's message from the Pope was mentioned. (Referred to in ADSS 6, page 539)
Do you claim that these documents are doctored or fraudulent or that they do not say what they say?

The documents are not doctored or fraudulent.  However what they say is markedly different from what Michael Hesemann has alleged they say.  See my comments in an earlier post.

Hesemann's claim that Pacelli may have been responsible trying to get 200,000 Jews, converted or not, out of Germany is simply not supported by these documents.

Paul, Do you believe that there were 200,000 converted Jews in Germany November 30, 1938 just after Kristallnacht?

No I do not. The Jewish population in the Old Reich was around 202,000.  The statistics were collected by the Nazis.  They had no reason to lie.  It was official policy to get as many Jews out of Germany as physically possible.

If so, what documented evidence do you have which, can prove your theory?

Again, I have written on this subject.  In summary, there were not 200,000 converted Jews in the Greater German Reich at the end of November 1938.  The total Jewish population, based on Nazi statistics in the 1939 census, came to 259,000.  It is beyond the realms of any realistic assertion to suggest that 200,000 of these Jews were converts. Read my post. the way, anyone who accesses our website will only see actual documents and eyewitness testimonies. They are free to draw their own conclusions. The mainstream historians books you believe this person should read, seemingly to be from those who only condemn Pope Pius XII.

"Condemn" is far too harsh a word and unfair.  Mainstream historians do what Michael Hesemann does not.  They examine the evidence and attempt to reconstruct the historical record without a predetermined agenda.  The crusade to canonise Pius XII is sinking rather badly when claims such as those promoted by Hesemann are published as historical fact.

Let me recommend Prof. Ron Rychlak’s recently updated book Hitler the War and The Pope.

I read the earlier edition and was unconvinced by his arguments.  Any endeavour that begins with a presumption or conclusion runs the risk of prejudicing any line of argument from the outset.  Reproducing copious amount of newspaper reports and published documentation with no serious contextual work is not satisfying.
Gary, I admire your commitment to seeking resolution for many of the world's trouble spots, but I ask, yet again, to allow historians to get on with what they do.  Having read Michael Hesemann's "claims" I believe he is doing your organisation damage and eroding your credibility.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"... or start a rumour"

Charles Aznavour's "What makes a man a man?" (1973) has these lines:
We love to pull apart someone And spread some gossip just for fun Or start a rumour.  And I can't help but think the same is true for Pius XII.  The rumour that has now been circulating cyberspace is one that I wrote about at length earlier, namely the allegation by Michael Hesemann that Eugenio Pacelli was responsible for saving 200,000 Jews. My google alert on Pius has been hauling in many blogs and websites where this unsubstantiated material has been given some coverage. 

One example uses the original article from the London journalist Simon Caldwell. 

Others such as the article by Jeanette Pryor on David Horowitz's News Real Blog take critics of Pius to task using the attention grabbing headline It's Time to Retire "Hitler's Pope" Lie.  I agree with Ms Pryor completely, but wonder why she resorts to the "non sectarian" work of Pave The Way as her main source of historical evidence. Surely she would have been better served by reading what mainstream historians have been writing for some years?  But then again, Ms Pryor believes Golda Meir was the first Prime Minister of Israel.  It might be a good idea to read some accurate history first, before accusing others of promoting "lies" about Pius XII. 

I read the article and found it contained nothing new in fact one part borders on the offensive.  She attempts to parallel the experience of the Judenrat and their "choiceless choices" and the Vatican.  There is one huge difference between the Judenrat and the Vatican.  Regardless of what the Judenrat did or did not do, the end result would always be the same - they were doomed to destruction.  Whatever the Vatican did or did not do, they would survive. 

Yet another blog ruminates on the old Lapide chestnut of the 860,000 as well as Hesemann's "facts". I wonder where it will end, if it ends at all. Even the new Protect the Pope site in the United Kingdom to counter anti-papal visit feeling has entered the fray with a startlingly ahistorical response to the questions about Pius XII. On what is otherwise a quite moderate site that does attempt to respond with logical and clearly researched answers, the comments about Pius XII are particularly jarring:
Peter Tatchell said:

Benedict has also paved the way for eventual sainthood of Pope, Pius XII, despite the war-time pontiff’s failure to speak out publicly, either during or after the Holocaust, against the Nazi mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others, including Russians, Poles, disabled, gays, Roma and many more. Pius XII was no saint. The fact that Pope Benedict wants to makes him a saint shows how far he has strayed from the moral and ethical values of most Catholics and most of humanity.

Protect the Pope comment:

During the war, the New York Times called Pius XII “the only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all…the Pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism…he left no doubt that the Nazi aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christmas peace.” (Christmas 1941).

New research has found that Pope Pius XII may have arranged the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany just three weeks after Kristallnacht. The research is being carried out by Dr. Michael Hesemann, a German historian who is combing through the Vatican archives for the Pave the Way Foundation, a U.S.-based interfaith group. (Haaretz, 7/7/10).

On the day of Pius XII’s death in 1958, Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, cabled the following message of condolence to the Vatican: “We share in the grief of humanity…When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims.” (Wikipedia).

As early as December of 1940, in an article published in Time magazine, the renowned Nobel Prize winning physicist Albert Einstein, himself a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, paid tribute to the moral “courage” of Pope Pius and the Catholic Church in opposing “the Hitlerian onslaught” on liberty.

Sir Martin Gilbert described as “a British historian and the world’s leading expert on the Holocaust”, is quoted as saying that the Pope should be considered as a “Righteous Gentile” by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust remembrance authority.

In his classic study, Three Popes and the Jews, Israeli historian and diplomat Pinchas Lapide, concluded that Pope Pius XII ‘was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands’.

Protect the Pope comment: Peter Tatchell’s concludes that ‘The fact that Pope Benedict wants to makes him a saint shows how far he has strayed from the moral and ethical values of most Catholics and most of humanity.’ This one sentence alone reveals Peter Tatchell’s hatred of Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church he represents as the Vicar of Christ. Tatchell reveals his extremism in all its ugliness when he wickedly seeks to portray Pope Benedict as an immoral man, even a monster, beyond the moral and ethical values of humanity. No fair minded person could accept such an absurd accusation!

Protect the Pope would be advised to do some serious reading before launching onto the high seas of the internet where it appears most of their response evidence came from!