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PIUS XII ENIGMA
by Alexander Kimel
R. L. replying to my post wrote:
Pius XII remains an enigmatic figure within the Church. Popularly,
Pius has been stigmatized as being silent or callously condoning the
extermination of the Jews--among non-Christians. ... The
historical record, however reveals a more complex picture. His
Christmas Messages, throughout the war, appealed for peace, and an end to the atrocities
being committed under the rubric of war and racial hatred. The New York
Times, in 1941 and 1942 in fact, applauded Pius's condemnations of
National Socialism. He was neither silent, nor was he vicariously guilty of
the annihilation of European Jewry.
Reading the above , I realized that Pius XII is not
such an enigma, as it appears to him. With a little bit of common sense,
it can be resolved. My reasoning is as follows:
1. Pious XII made many contradictory moves: He issued the toothless
enciclica " With Brennen Sorgen" but later is accepted the anti Jewish
measures adopted by the Vichy government. The Vatican helped the
Italian Jewry meet the steep contribution required by the German envoy,
but at the same time he never warned or protested the impending
resettlements to Auschwitz. Pius tried to influence the Slovakian
government, headed by Catholic priest, to stop the deportations but in
1944, after the liberation of Rome, he refused publicly to protest the
deportation of the Hungarian Jews.
2. The key of understanding of the Pontiff is to separate Pius XII as a
private person from Pius XII the leader of a powerful religious
PIUSII- THE PERSON
Pius was a decent man, who despite his anti Jewish ballast, did
everything he could to save the Jews, as a private person. Never, never
in public. He acted like a parish priest. For Pius, the person I do feel
sympathy. He was a man who found himself accidentally as the Head of
Catholic Church, in a critical historical time, a position for which he
was not emotionally fit.
PIUS XII THE LEADER
PIUS XII failed as leader. He never condemned Hitler, never protested
the slaughter for three basic reasons:
A. Pius was afraid that with condemning Hiler he will help Stalin.
B. He was afraid that Hitler will split the Catholic Church by
establishing a German National Church.
C. He was a head of a charismatic institution, who shaped the th beliefs
of their flock and in turn had to act in accordance with their flocks
expectations. Saving Jews was not popular.
The greatest failure of his Pontificate, is the fact that by not
speaking out against Hitler and his atrocities, he helped Stalin in
imposing an ruthless, Byzantine, atheistic regime on Eastern Europe.