Matt C. Abbott
'Pope Fiction': Pius XII and the Jews
By Matt C. Abbott
May 7, 2009

Many thanks to Patrick Madrid for granting me permission to reprint in my column the section of his book Pope Fiction titled "Pope Pius XII and the Jews" (pp. 285–306; footnotes are not included in this reprint). Mr. Madrid is an author, radio host, and director of the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College.

Pope Pius XII and the Jews

By Patrick Madrid

Myth: Pope Pius XII was silent in the face of Nazi atrocities against the Jews during World War II, and that silence led to the deaths of many innocent people. If he, as pope, had exercised his moral leadership and denounced Hitler, many lives would have been saved.

Wrong. When World War II came to an end and the horrors of the Holocaust came to full light, Pope Pius XII was exalted around the world as a hero. According to the witnesses of the day, including many Jews and other non-Catholics, through his efforts, hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children were saved from the brutality and certain death the Nazi extermination machine had planned for them. Especially after his death in 1958, praises for his efforts on behalf of the Jews poured in from all corners of the world.

When he died, the whole world knew and acknowledged that Pope Pius XII had done everything he could to defend and protect the Jews. He had done far more than the governments of the United States, England and other countries had done to protect them. According to his quiet but immensely effective strategy, this pope had done far, far more than any Protestant, Muslim or other religious leader or denomination had done during those harrowing years. But this widespread recognition of the pope's efforts on behalf of the Jews during World War II underwent a dramatic change a mere five years after the pontiff's death.

A lie is born

Historical revisionism is alive and well. Amazingly, undeniable, verifiable facts surrounding Pope Pius XII's persistent efforts on behalf of the Jews were forcibly amputated from the public consciousness. In place of the facts, a sinister myth was grafted in, and it quickly took root, choking out the truth. The seeds of this lie about Pope Pius XII were planted, in all places, in the form of a third-rate play.

In 1963, a young German playwright named Rolf Hochhuth wrote his now obscure but still poisonous play, The Deputy. In it, he alleged that Pope Pius XII, through "silence" about the extermination of European Jews, was directly complicit in the horror of Nazism. Hochhuth's erroneous attitude spread quickly among critics of the Catholic Church, particularly in secular and political circles.

While Hochhuth's personal pope fiction portrays Pope Pius XII as a cowardly collaborator with the Nazis, the facts show otherwise. As a cardinal and papal nuncio Germany, Monsignor Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, distinguished himself over many years of service to the Holy See as a vocal opponent of the racial policies of the National Socialist Party, the Nazis.

On the strength of his long experience in Germany, it was Pacelli who personally wrote the draft of Pope Pius XI's 1937 encyclical against the Nazi Reich, Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Anxiety), a vigorous and direct condemnation of anti-Semitism. The only encyclical ever to be issued first in German, it took the dramatic step of identifying Catholics as "spiritual Semites."

But for Hochhuth, this reality didn't matter. His

    condemnation of the "silence" of Pius XII was not ameliorated by his awareness of countervailing arguments. For example, in Hochhuth's 60 pages of supporting documents, he quotes a Nazi defendant at Nuremberg who testified that a direct papal condemnation of Hitler would have driven Hitler to more horrors. "The Pope did not protest" [publicly], this man testified, because he "quite rightly" said to himself, "If I protest, Hitler will be driven to madness; not only will that not help the Jews, but we must expect that they will be killed all the more." Apparently Hochhuth was unpersuaded by such Nazi testimony. For him, Pius should have made a powerful statement even if such a statement would not have helped the Jews, even if more of them would have been killed as a result.

Nothing would have been good enough

Regardless of what the Monday-morning quarterbacks say as they second-guess Pope Pius XII, the fact remains that he did the right thing in the way he handled his pro-Jewish, anti-Nazi diplomacy.

    Of course, no one will ever know what would have happened had Pius taken the course Hochhuth, and others since, would have had him take. But there is ample evidence that protests incited Hitler to fury and that extermination campaigns could always be intensified, even by a nation fighting enemies on many fronts.

Even in 1937, before he had been elected to the papacy, even before Adolph Hitler had fully plunged Germany into its nightmare of self-destruction, Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, spoke out fearlessly against Nazi anti-Semitism. He did so as a priest, as a bishop, as papal nuncio to Germany during the 1920s. The most important example of his behind-the-scenes efforts can be glimpsed in Mit Brennender Sorge, the encyclical letter he composed in German (a language in which he was fluent) for then-reigning Pope Pius XI:

    We have weighed every word of this letter in the balance of truth and love. We wished neither to be an accomplice to equivocation by an untimely silence, nor by excessive severity to harden the hearts of those who live under Our pastoral responsibility; for Our pastoral love pursues them none the less for all their infidelity.

This was a careful way of saying that the Pope knew was walking a tightrope with the Nazis. On one hand, he refused to be silent on this issue, but on the other hand, recognized that his condemnations of Nazi anti-Semitism could easily provoke a deadly backlash against the Jews, the very people he sought to protect. It was precisely this dilemma that shaped the way Pope Pius XII approached the problem during his pontificate.

Mit Brennender Sorge gives us a blueprint of the Church's actions, carried out largely by Eugenio Pacelli while he was papal nuncio to Germany. A few particular passages are worth noting here:

    When, in 1933, We consented, Venerable Brethren, to open negotiations for a concordat, which the Reich Government proposed on the basis of a scheme of several years' standing; and when, to your unanimous satisfaction, We concluded the negotiations by a solemn treaty, We were prompted by the desire, as it behooved Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church's beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, We then decided not to withhold Our consent for We wished to spare the Faithful of Germany, as far as it was humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face, given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through. It was by acts that We wished to make it plain, Christ's interests being Our sole object, that the pacific and maternal hand of the Church would be extended to anyone who did not actually refuse it.


    The experiences of these last years have fixed responsibilities and laid bare intrigues, which from the outset only aimed at a war of extermination. In the furrows, where We tried to sow the seed of a sincere peace, other men — the "enemy" of Holy Scripture — oversowed the weed of distrust, unrest, hatred, defamation, of a determined hostility overt or veiled, fed from many sources and wielding many tools, against Christ and His Church. They, and they alone with their accomplices, silent or vociferous, are today responsible, should the storm of religious war, instead of the rainbow of peace, blacken the German skies.

As we know, Hitler and his "accomplices" did blacken all of Europe with war, and suffering, and death. We know that Pope Pius XI warned the German bishops that it about to happen, and that the future Pope Pius XII played an important role in crafting that warning.

Hitler didn't like what he saw

When Eugenio Pacelli was elected pope in 1939, the Nazi government, remembering his opposition to their policies while he was papal nuncio to Germany, was greatly agitated by the new turn of events. Das Schwarze Korps, official publication of the German SS, stated mockingly:

    We do not know if Pius XII, though young enough to see the new developments in Germany, is intelligent enough to sacrifice many old things of his institution. As nuncio and secretary of state, Eugenio Pacelli had little understanding of us; little hope is placed in him. We do not believe that as Pius XII he will follow a different path.

Das Reich, another official organ of the Third Reich, growled that "Pius XI was a half-Jew, for his mother was Dutch Jewess; but Cardinal Pacelli is a full Jew."

In another jab, the Nazis observed: "In a manner never known before . . . The Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order [i.e., the Nazi party] ... It is true, the Pope does not refer to the National Socialists in Germany by name, but his speech is one long attack on everything we stand for ... Here he is clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews."

The Nazis' anxiety over Pacelli's election was well founded. As papal nuncio, he had openly opposed their racial policies at every turn. They knew he would be an even more formidable opponent now that he was pope, with the full weight of the Catholic Church at his disposal. And so it happened. Pius XII worked tirelessly behind the scenes to secure the safety of the oppressed Jews. Just a few examples should suffice to demonstrate this.

In his article, "The Real Story of Pius XII and the Jews," author James Bogle describes an important event:

    In August 1943, Pius XII received a plea from the World Jewish Congress to try to persuade the Italian authorities to remove 20,000 Jewish refugees from internment camps in Northern Italy. "Our terror-stricken brethren look to Your Holiness as the only hope for saving them from persecution and death," they wrote. In September 1943, A. L. Easterman on behalf of the W.J.C. reported to the Apostolic Delegate in London . . . that the efforts of the Holy See on behalf of the Jews had been successful.

The Vatican intervenes

Thomas Craughwell describes another such action:

    On June 15, 1940, about 500 Jews embarked at Bratislava for Palestine. They were refused entry there and at every other port they tried. After four heartbreaking months, the ship was captured by an Italian patrol boat and escorted to the Italian-occupied island of Rhodes. Here the Jewish passengers were imprisoned until they could be turned over to the Germans.

    Herman Herskovich, the son of one of the refugees, made his way to Rome where he requested and was granted audience with Pope Pius. When Pius heard Herskovich's story, he contacted the Italian authorities, won the release of the refugees and oversaw their transfer to a hastily erected settlement camp in southern Calabria. Pinchas Lapide of the 178th Transport Company of the 8th British Army and later Israel's consul in Milan recalled: "That is where we found most of them, sound and thankful, on December 23, 1943, the day after our Palestinian unit landed at Taranto."

    A few days later, Lapide and the 178th were greeted at Ferramonti-Tarsia near Cosenza by 3,200 Jews — the entire population of another settlement camp operated by the Vatican. The residents were refugees from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, who had been saved by Pius XII's intervention. Their camp was under the protection of two papal emissaries who had set up a kosher kitchen for the residents and established a school for the children.

By October 1943, the German forces occupying Rome were apprehending Jewish people in Rome for deportation. Pius XII negotiated with the German ambassador at length, saving the lives of eight thousand Jews.

At the time of the German occupation, the pope commanded that all convents, monasteries and houses of study in Italy be opened to hide the Jewish population from the Nazis. Thousands of Jews were hidden and saved through this action.

Why didn't Pius issue a public condemnation?

It's often alleged by critics of the papacy that Pius XII should have made a loud, specific, public condemnation of the Nazi atrocities. Such a claim sounds good at first — that is, until it's weighed against the reality of the time. Any vocal public stand by the pope would have resulted in horrible reprisals against the Jews and Catholics under German control. During an address to the College of Cardinals on June 2, 1943, the pope cautioned "every word on our part, addressed on this subject to competent authorities, every public allusion, has to be seriously weighed and measured by us, in the interest of the suffering [people] themselves, so as not to render their lot still graver and unbearable."

This fact was not lost on the Jewish community of that day, either. Carlo Sestieri, a Jewish writer who was given sanctuary personally by Pope Pius XII and hidden from the Nazis in one of the Vatican's properties, noted that

    Thousands of Roman Jews would have been captured the Nazi troops on October 16, 1943, had it not been for the prudent politics of the Vatican. . . . Perhaps only the Jews who were persecuted understand why the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, could not publicly denounce the Nazi-Fascist government. . . . Without doubt, it helped avoid worse disasters.

"The Pope's message"

On December 25, 1941, a New York Times editorial praised the pope's efforts on behalf of the Jews. Specifically, the editorial commented on an address the Holy Father had given. Here is the complete text of both editorials — read them and ask yourself if the pope fiction is that Pius XII was "silent" in the face of the Nazi atrocities:

    The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas. The Pope reiterates what he has said before. In general, he repeats, although with greater definiteness, the five-point plan for peace which he first enunciated in his Christmas message after the war broke out in 1939. His program agrees in fundamentals with the Roosevelt-Churchill eight-point declaration. It calls for respect for treaties and the end of the possibility of aggression, equal treatment for minorities, freedom from religious persecution. It goes farther than the Atlantic Charter in advocating an end of all national monopolies of economic wealth, and so far as the eight points, which demands complete disarmament for Germany pending some future limitation of arms for all nations.

    The Pontiff emphasized principles of international morality with which most men of goodwill 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.

    In calling for a "real new order" based on "liberty, justice and love," to be attained only by a "return to social and international principles capable of creating a barrier against the abuse of liberty and the abuse of power," the Pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism. Recognizing that there is no road open to agreement between belligerents "whose reciprocal war aims and programs seem to be irreconcilable," he left no doubt that the Nazi aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christian peace. "The new order which must arise out of this war," he asserted, "must be based on principles." And that implies only one end to the war.

"The Pope's verdict"

The following year, again on Christmas Day, the New York Times editorial revisited the theme of Pope Pius XII's efforts on behalf of the Jews:

    No Christmas sermon reaches a larger congregation than the message Pope Pius XII addresses to a war-torn world at this season. This Christmas more than ever he is a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent. The Pulpit whence he speaks is more than ever like the Rock on which the Church was founded, a tiny island lashed and surrounded by a sea of war. In these cir-cumstances, in any circumstances, indeed, no one would expect the Pope to speak as a political leader, or a war leader, or in any other role than that of a preacher ordained to stand above the battle, tied impartially, as he says, to all people and willing to collaborate in any new order which will bring a just peace.

    But just because the Pope speaks to and in some sense for all the peoples at war, the clear stand he takes on the fundamental issues of the conflict has greater weight and authority. When a leader bound impartially to nations on both sides condemns as heresy the new form of national state which subordinates everything to itself: when he declares that whoever wants peace must protect against "arbitrary attacks" the "juridical safety of individuals:" when he assails violent occupation of territory, the exile and persecution of human beings for no reason other than race or political opinion: when he says that people must fight for just and decent peace, a "total peace" — the "impartial judgment" is like a verdict in a high court of justice.

    Pope Pius expresses as passionately as any leader on our side the war aims of the struggle for freedom when he says that those who aim at building a new world must fight for free choice of government and religious order. They must refuse that the state should make of individuals a herd of whom the state disposes as if they were a lifeless thing.

The sad fact is that most people today have no idea that Pope Plus XII's contemporaries — Jews, Nazis, and the rest — openly recognized his strong, if often hidden, efforts to rescue his Jewish brothers and sisters as well as the many Catholics and others who were being ground beneath the boot of the Third Reich. A collective amnesia has set in. We as a society are no longer aware of what happened a mere fifty years ago.

Why? What caused this strange amnesia? It seems clear that revisionist historians, like Rolf Hochhuth and his sympathizers, have labored to obscure the facts about the pope and shape public opinion in a wholly different direction than the facts warrant. For whatever reason, perhaps out of a deep, if unspoken, anti-Catholicism, there has been a consistent effort to paint Pope Pius XII as a "Jew hater," an "anti-Semite," a "Catholic bigot" who sat back and did nothing as the Nazis did the dirty work for him. That kind of thinking is not simply contrary to the overwhelming facts that disprove that notion; it is a poisonous and extremely powerful form of anti-Catholicism.

Old prejudices die hard — old lies never die

As the old saying goes, "If you tell a lie long enough, loud enough, and to enough people, that lie will soon become the 'truth.'" The Pius XII slanderers know this well, and they exploit it to maximum advantage in their efforts to smear the papacy and the Catholic Church. Regardless of the facts, they want you to believe their pope fiction — that Pope Pius XII was "silent" in the face Nazi atrocities against the Jews. In one sense, the pope was "silent." He learned the savage lesson of what would happen to the Jews when the Catholic bishops of Holland took the heroic but ultimately disastrous course of public confrontation with the Nazis. Pius wisely elected not to pursue a strategy of aggressive public harangues against Hitler and his war machine. Instead he carried on a tireless and extremely effective behind-the-scenes operation to shield Jews from the German extermination effort.

Still, the Pope's detractors insist he did nothing to help the Jews.

Tell that to Pinchas Lapide, a Jew and a former Israeli diplomat. He quotes one of the Jews he knew in Nazi-occupied Rome during World War II: "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 only have increased and intensified its inquisition. ... It was much better the Pope kept silent. We all felt the same, and today we still believe that." The truth of this statement was demonstrated tragically in Holland, when in July 1942, the Dutch Catholic hierarchy publicly condemned the deportation of Dutch Jews [to Nazi concentration camps in Germany and occupied Poland].

    All leaders of the churches — Calvinists, Lutherans and Catholics — agreed to read a public protest against the deportation of Jews on a certain Sunday. The plan came to the attention of Dr. Karsten, head of the Gestapo in Holland, who made it clear to all the heads of the churches that, if the protests went forward, the Germans would deport not only Jews who were so by blood and religion but also the Jews who had converted to Christianity and been baptized. Faced with this threat, all the heads of the churches backed down except those of the Catholic Church. In all the Catholic churches of Holland a letter of protest was read. As a consequence, the deportation of Jews of blood and religion was accelerated, and the baptized Jews were also deported, including Edith Stein and her sister. Thus, as a result of the intervention of the Dutch bishops who refused to retreat before the Nazi threat, Edith Stein, her sister, and many other Jewish converts were deported and killed.

Their protest, heroic as it was, was met immediately by fierce Nazi reprisals against both Dutch Jews and Catholics — with special attention given to those Jews who had converted to Catholicism. Saint Edith Stein, the great Carmelite nun and renowned writer, was one such convert from Judaism. She was deported, along with tens of thousands of Jews, ending up in Auschwitz, one of Hitler's most malignant death camps. After a horrifying stint there, the young woman was executed along with 300 others in a Nazi crackdown against "unruly" prisoners.

The diary of Anne Frank

Anne Frank, the gifted Jewish teenager who perished if 1945 in the Nazi death camp Bergen-Belson, was another victim of this Nazi reprisal against Dutch Jews. Millions around the world have read The Diary of Anne Frank, her poignant memoir which ends abruptly just before she sent to the death camp. Her story is filled with haunting details of her experience of being literally sealed into secret apartment in Holland with her family and another family. Her poignant account of that suffocating existence (never once being able to go outdoors into the sunlight!) is as riveting as it is tragic. Yet, even that hidden, stifled existence, as terrible as it was, would have been infinitely better than the fate that awaited Anne Frank.

All hell broke loose when the Dutch Catholic bishops issued their public condemnation of the Nazi atrocities against the Jews. As we know, the Third Reich was enraged at such an open act of defiance and its response was swift and devastating.

A pale green horse rampaged through Holland. Its rider was named Death, and hell accompanied him. Storm troopers smashed through Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other major Dutch cities in search of all hiding Jews. And they found thousands of them. Anne Frank and her family were discovered. This sweet, intelligent young girl was swept into the maw of the Nazi death machine and disappeared into the oblivion of the camps.

She left this earth through a crematorium smokestack.

Clearly, if that was how the Nazis reacted to a public condemnation of their depredations by the Dutch Catholic bishops, any thinking person can imagine the ferocity they would have unleashed against the Jews of Europe if Pope Pius XII himself had followed suit and issued a similar public condemnation. Many, many more Jews would have been killed as a result.

Pius XII knew this and he agonized daily over it. The irony is that the rest of the world knew he knew it and people near and far praised him repeatedly for his careful but relentless efforts on behalf of the Jews. Pope Pius XII wanted with every ounce of his being to stand at the balcony of St. Peter's and cry out to humanity at the top of his lungs against the Nazi horror of the Shoah (the Holocaust). The plight of his Jewish brothers and sisters trapped behind Germany's wall of death weighed on him each day of his pontificate.

The personal toll on the pope

Though Pius XII was not personally suffering the crushing weight of Nazi anti-Semitism that was devouring thousands of his fellow human beings, he felt their suffering as keenly as if he had been in Dachau or Auschwitz with them. And he did his best to offer his personal sacrifices as an act of solidarity before God with them.

One Vatican associate who worked daily with the Holy Father during those dark days recalled the various simple and hidden ways the pope would offer penances to the Lord on behalf of his brothers and sisters. For example, he loved to drink coffee, especially in the morning as he attended to his office work. One day, he announced to his household that he would no longer be drinking coffee. "My brothers in the camps are not able to drink coffee, so I will not drink coffee." And that was that. For the duration of the war, Pius XII abstained from his favorite beverage as a personal act of solidarity with the Jews and others being persecuted by the Germans, especially those trapped in the death camps. He was also known to perform other acts of private mortification on their behalf: fasting, sleeping on the bare floor at night, working at his desk until the early morning and allowing himself only a few hours sleep before he rose to begin again.

Clearly, there can be no one-to-one comparison whatsoever made between the excruciating suffering the Jews underwent at the Nazis' hands and the hidden, private mortifications Pope Pius XII embraced out of solidarity with them. No sort of objective comparison could possibly be made. Rather, it's important to recognize here the humanity of Pope Pius XII, the aching compassion he felt for the suffering that was compounded by the maddening frustration of not being able to directly intervene on their behalf. His private fasts and modest sufferings were objectively nothing compared to what those in the camps suffered, but still the pope yearned to offer to the Lord even the little suffering he could, as an offering of love and solidarity for them.

During World War II, the pope, though technically a "free man," was in reality a prisoner in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. He understood that he could spiritually enter into deeper solidarity with the suffering Jews in more ways that just his actions on their behalf. Simple things like his fasting, giving up coffee, and denying himself much needed sleep and recreation, were in themselves insignificant when compared to the daily anguish the Jews and Catholics and others in the death camps were experiencing. But the fact remains that Pius wanted to suffer with them. He wanted to offer his private mortifications to the Lord both in intercession for his suffering brethren, and as a hidden act of solidarity with them. During his pontificate, only a few close personal associates knew about these penances.

By the time the United States had entered the fray, the pope was acutely aware that, at this point in the war, public protestations on his part would only inflame Hitler's blood lust and result in an even more frenzied slaughter of Jews, Gypsies, Catholics and other miserables in his grip. Jewish leaders in Europe and the United States knew this too.

When the war ended, Pope Pius XII's behind-the-scenes efforts on behalf of European Jews were warmly recognized. Rabbi Abraham Zolli, the chief Rabbi of Rome, was so moved by the pope's defense of his people that he felt compelled to investigate the Catholic Faith that animated this great man. He began to study Catholicism and eventually converted to the Catholic Faith, taking Eugenio — Pope Pius XII's own name — as his baptismal name. He chose that name in honor of the good pope who worked so tirelessly for the Jewish people. What could be stronger evidence that Pope Pius XII was not, as his critics allege, "silent and immobile" in the face of Nazi persecution of Jews?

Jewish gratitude after the war

Let's up the ante. Most people don't realize that shortly after World War II ended, the World Jewish Congress sent two million lire as a gift of gratitude to the Vatican, saying their "first duty was to thank him and the Catholic Church for all they had done to rescue Jews."

Isaac Herzog, the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, noted similarly: "The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundation: of true civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world."

The great Jewish scientist Albert Einstein published in Time a statement of admiration for the efforts of the Catholic Church to help the Jews. This statement appeared on December 23, 1940, during World War II — exactly the time frame during which the pope's critics claim that he and the Church had been "silent."

    Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom. But they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks.

    Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I had never any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess, that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly.

In 1958, when Pope Pius XII died, the first official dignitary to react was Golda Meir, delegate to the United Nations and the future prime minister of Israel. She said in her public message:

    We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. In a generation afflicted by wars and discords he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims.

It was estimated by the newly created government of Israel that Pope Pius XII's policy of quiet but intense behind-the-scenes effort had saved over 800,000 Jewish lives during the Holocaust — more than all other relief organizations combined. James Bogle points out the fact that the government of Israel officially approved the creation of a memorial forest with the planting of 800,000 trees in the Negev desert, southeast of Jerusalem, to stand as a perpetual monument to the heroic efforts of a truly great man and a true friend of the Jews, Pope Pius XII.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media, and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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