Last night the CBS show, “60 Minutes,” did a segment on the Vatican’s response to the Holocaust. Catholic League president William Donohue replied today with the following comments:
“To trot out John Cornwell to make the case that Pius XII was ‘Hitler’s Pope’ is consistent with the way ‘60 Minutes’ views Catholicism. Cornwell was introduced as a ‘practicing Catholic’ who was granted ‘unprecedented access’ to the Vatican’s archive. This is wrong on both counts. In 1991, Cornwell wrote how he has become ‘increasingly convinced that human beings were morally, psychologically, and materially better off without a belief in God.’ He added, ‘As I entered middle age nothing short of a miracle could have shaken these firm convictions.’ So why didn’t Ed Bradley ask him about this? Or would that have gotten in the way of his agenda?
“As for the ‘unprecedented access’ bit, this is nonsense: Vatican records show that many persons have had access to this archive; they also show that Cornwell accessed the archive for about 3 weeks and often for short periods of time, not exactly the stuff of major research.
“Cornwell says it was one particular comment by Pius XII that convinced him that the pope was no different from Hitler in how he viewed Jews. But the quote Cornwell refers to— a Jew with ‘pale, dirty, with drugged eyes’—is a remark that the pope made about one particular Bolshevik; it was not a sweeping generalization about Jews.
“Finally, the show makes much of those Jews who were killed in Italy, the pope’s backyard. This is astounding given that nowhere in all of Europe did more Jews survive—fully 85 percent—than in Italy. Indeed, if it weren’t for the pope, 860,000 more Jews would have died at the hands of the Nazis. Is there any person who saved more Jews than that?”