Vatican: Pius XII Did as Much as He Could [to help Jews] Under the Circumstances

There is some tension brewing over a new exhibit commemorating Pius XII.

You would think that the church would have by now a collection of explicit examples of how Pius XII and the Vatican confronted the Holocaust, rather than the generalities and rhetoric that they are still propagating. Apparently not. Apparently it the fault of the WJC that there is so little out there!? Oy vey.

From FaithWorld at Reuters:
“It is our hope that this solemn commemoration of such a great pope will offer impetus for more and deeper research without prejudice on his work,” Monsignor Walter Brandmüller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historic Sciences, said in his prepared speech.

Later, in a question and answer session, Brandmüller lost his cool just a bit and expressed irritation at questions about calls for more opening of the Vatican archives. He effectively said the archives of Jewish organisations such as the World Jewish Congress should be more open and used more, suggesting that scholars would find material supporting the Vatican’s view that Pius did as much as he could under the circumstances.

Addressing a separate issue, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said the commemorations were in no way intended to promote efforts to beatify Pius, which would put him on the path to sainthood. “These two things are completely different,” he said.

Jewish groups were surprised by Brandmüller’s comments, saying their archives are and always were wide open. It’s unlikely this is the last we hear — from either side — on this issue.


John D. Enright said...

I don't know what to think about Pius XII. Here's the conclusion to Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust from the Jewish Virtual Library:

"The Pope's reaction to the Holocaust was complex and inconsistent. At times, he tried to help the Jews and was successful. But these successes only highlight the amount of influence he might have had, if he not chosen to remain silent on so many other occasions. No one knows for sure the motives behind Pius XII's actions, or lack thereof, since the Vatican archives have only been fully opened to select researchers. Historians offer many reasons why Pope Pius XII was not a stronger public advocate for the Jews: A fear of Nazi reprisals, a feeling that public speech would have no effect and might harm the Jews, the idea that private intervention could accomplish more, the anxiety that acting against the German government could provoke a schism among German Catholics, the church's traditional role of being politically neutral and the fear of the growth of communism were the Nazis to be defeated.(34) Whatever his motivation, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Pope, like so many others in positions of power and influence, could have done more to save the Jews."

At a minimum the Vatican should answer these questions: What did Pius XII know and when did he know it?

Tzvee Zahavy said...

I agree that is the minimum to ask - and why have we not heard the answers?

John D. Enright said...

I don't know the answers to those questions, Rabbi. You can bet, though, that I, too, want to know the answers before any further steps are taken on the attempt to canonize him. I hope, though, that the delay in answering these crucial questions is simply the result of inefficient, bureaucratic nonsense. As deplorable as that would be, it's vastly more preferable than a Nixonian style cover-up.

I think we're both on the same page on this issue, Rabbi. I appreciate that you didn't just jump on his case, and instead, took a more reasoned approach by saying "Wait a minute. Let's take a closer look at this."

Tzvee Zahavy said...

I assume you would be considered a bad lawyer if you had exculpatory evidence and you did not present it on behalf of your client.

So either we have bad advocates at the Vatican or there is no evidence to present, correct?

John D. Enright said...

No, Rabbi, there's a lot of evidence already exposed which establishes that the Pope did a lot of great things during the conflagration, but he also remained markedly mute throughout. I don't have the answer to that, though some of the rationales put forward state that the Pope didn't want to inflame the situation. I do know that more than 5,000 Jews were hidden from the Nazis on the direct Order of Pius XII.

Because of the Vatican's secrecy, (it's always been paranoid) it's going to be difficult to get to the underlying truth. I know that you don't like that very much, and I don't either.

I suspect, however, that the Vatican is simply lethargic in releasing the information. Sooner or later all of it will be available. Well, I hope so.