It’s not well known in the English speaking world that for Germany the First World War didn’t end in 1918. While American doughboys were heading home from France, Germany was falling into chaos and revolution, with Communist ex-soldiers fighting Rightist ex-soldiers for control of the various German States. In Poland fighting went on even until the early 1920’s with British troops sent in to enforce the division of Prussia. Even before the 1918 armistice German states were collapsing. In Munich on the 7th November 1918 Communists proclaimed the Bavarian Soviet Republic, overthrowing the Wittelsbach monarchy and ushering in a period of violent attacks on opponents and ‘anti-revolutionary elements’.
Among the few foreign diplomats to tough it out and stay in Munich was Eugenio Pacelli, the 43 year old Papal Nuncio (ambassador) to Germany. Before long a gang of armed ‘Reds’ stormed his home and he was confronted by angry, uniformed men threatening his life. In a display of cool courage, staring down the barrels of their guns, the inwardly terrified Pacelli talked the murderous crew into leaving empty-handed and without his scalp. It was a seminal moment for Pacelli who would be a staunch opponent of godless communism until he died, at 82, as Pope Pius XII.
The current Pope, German born Benedict XVI, has begun the process of canonising Pius XII, that is, making him a saint. But the process has stalled over the controversial issue of the Vatican’s notorious silence during the greatest evil of the twentieth century, the Nazi Holocaust. Benedict said Thursday that Pius XII spared no effort to save Jews from the Nazis, one of the strongest ever Vatican defences of a pontiff rightly accused of silence during the Holocaust. Benedict said that he wanted any prejudice against Pius to be overcome, praising Pius's "courageous and paternal dedication" in trying to save Jews.
"Wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favor either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church" Benedict said, describing many interventions being "made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews."
Hogwash. Pure, blathering bullshit.
Complete and utter bollocks.
Codswallop, crap and confabulation.
It’s a sickening confection of weasel words and syrupy, slimy nonsense that flies in the face of the historical record, without a shred of evidence, or fact, or testimony to support it. Prove it. I double-bloody-dare you. Prove it. Stack up the times, dates, places and people involved. Surely there’s nothing that can stand in the way of the evidence for such moral courage coming to light now, after all this time? Can anyone find a reason to keep secret the heroism of Pius XII now after 60-odd years?
The AP article says Pope Benedict said that on Nov. 29, 1945, 80 delegates of German concentration camps came to the Vatican and thanked Pius "for his generosity to them." It doesn’t say whether these delegates were Jews. Neither does it mention that Nazi war criminals were hiding in the Vatican waiting for false papers and a boat trip to Argentina or Brazil at the same time.
The Catholic Church’s history during World War II and afterwards is one of shame, complicity and mutual co-operation with the worst of Nazi excesses. Don’t believe me?
In 1933 Pacelli/Pius was the architect of the Reichskonkordat, a treaty between Nazi Germany and the Vatican which traded silence by the Vatican on all political matters in Germany for the freedom of the Church to collect it’s own taxes and practice the faith without hindrance. The treaty is still in force today. As Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich put it in a sermon in 1937,
"At a time when the heads of the major nations in the world faced the new Germany with cool reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the greatest moral power on earth, through the Concordat expressed its confidence in the new (Nazi) German government. This was a deed of immeasurable significance for the reputation of the new government abroad."
Later, when anti-Semitic persecution was ramped up in Germany Faulhaber wrote to Pacelli,
“We bishops are being asked why the Catholic Church … does not intervene on behalf of the Jews. This is not possible at this time because the struggle against the Jews would then, at the same time, become a struggle against the Catholics, and because the Jews can help themselves..”
This was the attitude that the Church adopted throughout the War: Stuff you, Jews, we’re looking out for ourselves. Not very nice is it? Not quite the noble and high-minded picture the Church would have you believe. Sleazy, slimy realpolitik - the cool calculation of self-interest and the complete abandoning of principle, in fact, which is fine if you’re a soulless thug, but it’s definitively not fine for a Pope.
Faulhaber, incidentally, ordained the young Jozeph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) as a priest in 1951. The picture at right shows Ratzinger as a seminary student in the 1940s giving the Nazi salute.
What’s more, the Catholic Church actively assisted the Nazis and their fellow fascists. In Ukraine in 1943 Catholic priests actively recruited soldiers for the 14th ‘Galician’ Waffen SS, and even blessed mass formations of a unit notorious for its brutality and murderous activities. In Croatia the appallingly brutal regime of catholic Ante Pavelic horrified even the Nazis, but Pavelic was given a private audience in April 1941 by Pius XII and praised for creating a “bastion against Bolshevism”.
Pavelic also funnelled money to the Vatican and later benefited from the policy of protecting and hiding vicious war criminals through the infamous ‘ratlines’ when the war ended in defeat. He made his escape disguised as a Catholic priest.
Throughout World War II Pope Pius XII remained almost entirely mute on the horrors of the Holocaust, despite mounting evidence and continual requests to speak out. As the attempt to beatify him continues more and more evidence of the Vatican’s sordid involvement in protecting Nazi war criminals surfaces.
A generous view would be that fear of “godless Communism” and his own personal confrontation with it pushed Pius XII to the political right and blinded him to the equally godless evils of fascism, Nazism in particular. It’s a Christian act to forgive him for his half-hearted condemnations of Nazi mass-murder during the war. It’s possible even for a generous spirit to forgive him for turning a blind eye to the Vatican ratlines that spirited the vilest of war criminals to South America. But is it possible to see anything good in his appeals for mercy for mass-murderers like the Catholic Einsatzgruppen leader Otto Ohlendorf when he refused to intercede for millions of victims of Nazism?
Either way, it’s not possible, given any fair examination of the facts, to think of this man as a hero, someone who stood up against the greatest evil of his time, a man who proved the worth of his office and his religion. He simply didn’t do so.
Pius XII a saint? You must be bloody joking.