Defending Pope Pius XII


On a recent thread, I mentioned that Pope Pius XII was a hero because (according to my know;edge) he saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust by allowing them to take sanctuary in Catholic Churches and Monasteries, and because he condemned Hitler’s racist and antisemitic policies. A troll responded by saying that the Church collaborated with the Nazis in Germany (where he lived) and that I was guilty of Holocaust denial.

Pius XII has been accused by some of perhaps not doing enough, but I am not aware that he at ANY point in time collaborated with the Nazis. This allegation sounds like defamation to me.

How do I answer people I meet who make such accusations?


You are right; it is defamation.

The burden of proof is on the one making the accusation. If they say that Pius XII collaborated with the Nazis, ask them for proof of their claim.


I agree, Joe.

I love when people run their mouths about things they have no knowledge of… Ask him for proof because I’d bet dollars to donuts he has NONE.


Completely agree… burden of proof is on the accuser.

I think many folks make accusations and use the fact that Eugenio Pacelli was Apostolic Nuncio to Germany for over a decade as evidence of ties to the German hierarch… which clearly is nothing more than circumstantial evidence.

I typically, respond with the fact that there is not adequate evidence for an argument either way and that until the Vatican releases the archives, there will not be an answer. Thankfully, under Francis, that day is coming.


It’s much worse than defamation it’s a crime against history, it’s bigotry and a deliberate, hateful twisting of the truth. I’m afraid it say it, but I don’t think you’ll have much luck breaking through that particular anti-catholic paradigm.


A document called the Reichskonkordat was signed in 1933, but Eugenio Pacelli was a Cardinal at the time and Secretary of State for the Vatican. The Pope was Pius XI. The Konkordat was designed to guarantee the rights of Catholics and the Church in the Reich. After he became Pope Pius XII, he spoke against the Nazis, and there is already good scholarship available about that.



In the decade immediately after WWII, Pope Pius XII was almost universally praised for his actions. That all changed with a hit-job play called The Deputy. The slander of Pope Pius often brings up, as Ed says, the Concordat.

The Concordat: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Under intense pressure from Hitler, including terrorizing members of the Catholic Center Party, Pacelli agrees to negotiate a legal agreement between Germany and the Holy See. The agreement, called a concordat, is a clever propaganda stunt by Hitler. Simply by asking the Church to negotiate, Hitler makes himself look good. Pacelli does not trust Hitler, but wants a legal basis on which to protest. Without a concordat there will be no legal grounds to appeal Nazi encroachments on the Church’s freedom. The concordat defines Church rights within the greater rights of the State. Despite misgivings the concordat seems wise at the time. Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich comments: “With the concordat we are hanged, without the concordat we are hanged, drawn and quartered.”

Back in Rome, Pacelli tells the British ambassador: “I had to choose between an agreement and the virtual elimination of the Catholic Church in the Reich.” He says a pistol had been held to his head, and that he felt he was negotiating “with the devil himself.”

Pacelli begins to make numerous formal protests against the extreme anti-Semitism of Nazism. According to Jewish scholar and historian Jeno Levai, while Secretary of State, Pacelli oversees “the dispatch of sixty notes in which the Vatican protested to Hitler against the persecution of the Jews up to the outbreak of war.”

The above is from

What can you do? You can educate yourself and try to inform people. (But I have found that some people are not interested in the truth; they prefer to keep their prejudices rather than learn something new. There is not much you can do about people like this).

There is a really good book if you want to learn more:
The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: Pope Pius XII And His Secret War Against Nazi Germany.

Good online sources:

The Record of Pius XII’s Opposition to Hitler


Did Pius XII cooperate in any way with the Nazi goals? No.
Did Pius XII speak out against what was going on? Yes.
Did Pius XII take action to save lives? Yes.
Did Pius XII do enough or was he strong enough in his condemnations? …Questionable.


How much would be “enough”? For some people, nothing a Catholic pope did would ever be enough. What exactly would it have taken for people to desist from detraction of Pius’ reputation? I find it strange that people like to slur Pope Pius XII while I almost never hear people asking why didn’t Roosevelt do more? Why did the Allies hinder rather than help the Jews who were desperately trying to flee the Nazis? Why did they refuse them visas when they could have saved them? Why weren’t people in Europe told not to help the Nazis in the extermination of the Jews? Why did the Allies issue only one condemnation before 1944 of the Nazi persecution of Jews? Whereas Pope Pius issued Mit brennender Sorge with its condemnation of racism in 1937 and numerous Catholic bishops spoke out all over Europe.

Every time the Catholic bishops or the Pope spoke out, the Nazis retaliated viciously by rounding up more people and sending them to the camps. St. Edith Stein was sent to her death after the Dutch bishops publicly spoke out against the Nazi racist policies. (The reality of retribution and retaliation is something more recent popes have had to deal with in terms of speaking out against Muslim persecution of Christians in Muslim countries).

In no other Nazi-occupied country did local Catholic bishops more furiously resist Nazism than in Holland. But, their well-intentioned pastoral letter — which explicitly declared that they were inspired by Pope Pius XII — backfired. As Pinchas Lapide notes: “The saddest and most thought-provoking conclusion is that whilst the Catholic clergy in Holland protested more loudly, expressly and frequently against Jewish persecutions than the religious hierarchy of any other Nazi-occupied country, more Jews — some 110,000 or 79 percent of the total — were deported from Holland to death camps.” The protest of the Dutch bishops thus provoked the most savage of Nazi reprisals: The vast majority of Holland’s Jews — and the highest percentages of Jews of any Nazi-occupied nation in Western Europe — were deported and killed.

With the advantage of hindsight, Pius XII’s revisionist critics have been judging the Pope’s “silence” without considering the likely consequences of his having “spoken out” more loudly and explicitly. These critics do not know (or have chosen to ignore the fact) that the Pope had been strongly advised by Jewish leaders and by Catholic bishops in Nazi-occupied countries not to protest publicly against the Nazi atrocities. When the bishop of Munster wanted to speak out against the persecution of the Jews in Germany, the Jewish leaders of his diocese begged him not to because it would result in even greater persecution for them. Pinchas Lapide quotes an Italian Jew who, with the Vatican’s help, managed to escape the Nazi deportation of Rome’s Jews in October 1943, as stating unequivocally twenty years later: “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 have only increased and intensified its inquisition…it was much better the Pope kept silent. We all felt the same, and today we still believe that.” Bishop Jean Bernard of Luxembourg, an inmate of Dachau from February 1941 to August 1942, notified the Vatican that "whenever protests were made, treatment of prisoners worsened immediately.

Consider what was said at the time. On Christmas Day, 1941, The New York Times, commenting on Pius XII’s Christmas Message, carried the following editorial:

**The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas. **. . . The Pontiff emphasized principles of international morality with which most men of good-will agree. He uttered the ideas a spiritual leader would be expected to express in time of war. Yet his words sound strange and bold in the Europe of today, and we comprehend the complete submergence and enslavement of great nations, the very sources of our civilization, as we realize that he is about the only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all. The last tiny islands of neutrality are so hemmed in and overshadowed by war and fear that no one but the Pope is still able to speak aloud in the name of the Prince of Peace. This is indeed a measure of the “moral devastation” he describes as the accompaniment of physical ruin and inconceivable human suffering.


Um, Johann? No response?


I did actually respond to the troll, although to give a full and proper response is impossible as yahoo apparently simply deletes long posts.

I pointed out Pius XII’s encyclical condemning racism and antisemitism by the Nazi Regime as unchristian and immoral (in 1939, I think). I pointed out his efforts to save Jews. I pointed out that both Chain Hertzog (Israel’s founding President) and Albert Einstein praised Pius for his efforts to save Jewish lives.

Sadly I got no response.


:thumbsup:Thanks for the links


That was a good response. I’ve never commented on Yahoo, but I have on some other outlets, and most trolls don’t respond, especially not to facts! All you can do is put the truth out there. Others will read it, and you never know who might have read it and been informed, and maybe started to think differently. (But as an adult convert, I will tell you that after a couple of years, I decided to try NOT to read comments on mainstream media articles that have anything to do with Catholicism; the haters are just overwhelming).

Another fascinating bit of history: the Rabbi of Rome converted to Catholicism after the war, taking the name Eugenio in honor of Pope Pius XII.

You’re welcome. :slight_smile:


That poster did not specify Pius XII, but made a generalization that is somewhat true. It’s true that there were some bishops who did support Hitler politically. The most famous is Cardinal Innitzer, who was the Archbishop of Vienna at the time and initially supported the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany, but later realized his mistake after a stern talk with Cardinal Pacelli.

As for a response, try this link. Pave the Way Foundation is primarily a Jewish organization trying to remind their fellow Jews of their debt of gratitude towards Pius XII.

From that page, here is a YouTube video they created with images of actual files from the Vatican archives they were given special access into:


Very few people realised in the early years what was developing. An exception was Dietrich von Hildebrand. His biography, Soul of a Lion, is a fascinating picture of that era.

The unspoken logic of anti-Catholic bashers seems to be that if ONE Catholic was pro-Nazi AT ANY TIME, then this proves the whole Church was helping the Nazis murder Jews. :rolleyes: The same people who accept this would never apply the same logic to other faith groups or even to the German Protestant groups. They don’t seem to know that the Nazis shut down Catholic schools, newspapers, organisations as soon as they could, that thousands of Catholic priests were sent to concentration camps, etc, etc.

As for a response, try this link. Pave the Way Foundation is primarily a Jewish organization trying to remind their fellow Jews of their debt of gratitude towards Pius XII.

From that page, here is a YouTube video they created with images of actual files from the Vatican archives they were given special access into:

Thanks for the link. :slight_smile: I will watch the video later. (t’s a shame that only a few videos are accessible from the website. Apparently, you have to register, and then they will email you tons of information).


There are thousands of web links out there on the topic, so we could go on forever, but I do want to add a couple, for people interested in the topic, and remind people that Catholic Answers has information which is searchable from the* Library* page.

Catholic Martyrs of the Holocaust
A general background, touching on history, the persecution of Poland, Von Galen, the show trials of priests, etc.

But what many people don’t know is that the Church itself was a target of the Nazis.
The truth is many thousands of Catholic men, women, and children died in concentration camps, SS and Gestapo torture chambers, or in fields and villages across Europe for the “crime” of proclaiming the truth to one of the most evil regimes in human history. The historical reality of this oppression does not in any way reduce the culpability of some Catholics in the Holocaust, nor does it suggest that the unprecedented genocide of the Jewish people should be forgotten or considered reduced in significance.

Yada, Yada… How Critics of Pius XII Use and Misuse Ellipses

Consider, for instance, John Cornwell’s 1999 book Hitler’s Pope. In an epigraph before the main text, Cornwell presents a quotation from Thomas Merton, a well-known contemplative monk whose writings have inspired many people. As rendered by Cornwell, the quotation says: “Pius XII and the Jews . . . The whole thing is too sad and too serious for bitterness . . . a silence which is deeply and completely in complicity with all the forces which carry out oppression, injustice, aggression, war.” This is a fairly shocking condemnation of the pope from an esteemed Catholic thinker. If Merton had actually written this, it should indeed give us pause. But this is not a true quotation. Cornwell used ellipses to manufacture it.

Cornwell gave no citation, so his deception was hard to uncover.

Read more at the link.


Because I had trouble getting that video to work, I looked at what else they had uploaded at You Tube, and found this. It is cram-packed with information! It’s excellent. Unfortunately, they gave it a non-descriptive title, and it is not getting the views it deserves.

Professor Ronald Rychlak, MDLA Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Mississippi School of Law, addresses the controversy of the Papacy of Pope Pius XII in a Washington DC lecture.


They must’ve Google imaged Pope Pius XII meeting Hitler and jumped to conclusions.

If it wasn’t for Pope Pius XII there would’ve been far more deaths in the Holocaust. I think he saved the most out of everybody some 700,000 I heard. Also he was surrounded by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany occupying numerous areas of Italy too.


** A Catholic totally destroys the protestant arguments in this recent Youtube debate. Here is the link… **


That is not Pope Pius XII.

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