It’s Time to Retire the “Hitler’s Pope” Lie


Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center penned an article entitled The Forgotten Pope Who Challenged Hitler, in which he renews the charges that Pius XII:

“simply did little to stop the Nazis.”

Hier applauds efforts made by Pius XII’s predecessor, Pius XI, in particular, the 1937 public condemnation of National Socialism, Mit Brennender Sorge.

He speaks otherwise of Pius XI’s successor, Pope Pius XII:

“Normally, it is not the business of Jews who the Catholic Church designate a saint, but Pius XII must be an exception to the rule because it would require us to teach our children and grandchildren that while history’s greatest crime was being committed and 6 million Jews, 1/3 of all of world Jewry were exterminated, a saint was sitting on the throne of St. Peter.”

A defense of the Pope’s actions during the Holocaust is not a exculpation of Christian bystanders.  I am profoundly convinced that the most significant secondary, contributing factor to the Holocaust was the neglect, on the part of the majority of European Christians, to obey the First Commandment of Our Lord:

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another as I have loved you.”

In spite of the heroic examples of those who did remember, too many did not.  Had Christians opposed Hitler’s treatment of their Jewish neighbors, the execution of six million could simply not have occurred.

Another group facilitated the persecution of the Jews. Compiling lists of Jews to be “transported,” enforcing Nazi regulations and, physically loading Jews on the trains, were actions performed by the Jewish Councils and police enlisted by the Nazis to control the doomed Ghetto populations.

I, in no way, intend to draw a perverted parallel or “moral equivalence” between culpable or negligent Christians and the Judenrat.  Serious scholars neither condemn nor question the material assistance lent to the Nazis by Jewish councils and police because it is universally understood that their intention or motivation was to improve – and later save – the lives of as many Jews as possible.

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