PIUS RAPPED BY PBS
PBS recently aired a special entitled “Reflections on Vatican II.” Most of the commentary that was elicited was balanced. One notable exception was the segment that dealt with Pope Pius XII. As usual, the old canard about Pius being silent during the Holocaust was trotted out, and no one was more unfair than Giancarlo Zizola, biographer of Pope John XXIII.
On the September 18 show, Zizola made the rather remarkable comment that during the Holocaust, “the Church was so worried about the naked arms of women in churches, about moral questions, but did not make any statement on the naked Jews who were digging their own graves.” What he failed to say is that Pius was too busy orchestrating shelter and providing phony baptismal certificates for Jews to worry about making headlines that would have backfired on his efforts.
We registered our objections with PBS, citing historical evidence. What we provided stands in stark contrast to the empty rhetoric of Giancarlo Zizola.
As readers of Catalyst know, attempts to denigrate the work of Pope Pius XII are taken seriously by the Catholic League. We know of no other world leader in the 20th century who has been lied about more than Pius. It is outrageous that after all he did to help Jews that there is a veritable cottage industry of activists and writers seeking to besmirch his reputation.
In the end, evidence will triumph over emotion. It it doesn’t, we’re all in trouble.
The following advertisement appeared in the Op-Ed page of the New York Times on October 16, 1998.
| Today marks the 20thanniversary of the papacy of John Paul II. Already known to many as John Paul the Great, his list of accomplishments are as plentiful as they are monumental. Surely among them is his role in establishing strong relations between Catholics and Jews.
The Holy Father has not shied from roundly criticizing the actions of many Christians before and during the Holocaust. But he has also defended the role of Pope Pius XII during the war: “Those who don’t limit themselves to cheap polemics know very well what Pius XII thought of the Nazi regime, and how much he did to help the countless victims persecuted by that regime.”
Last Friday marked the 40th anniversary of the death of Pius XII. When he died, Jewish organizations the world over congratulated him for his efforts in saving Jews from the Nazis (he is credited with saving the lives of as many as 860,000 Jews).
Expressing their gratitude when Pius died were the following: Anti-Defamation League; Synagogue Council of America; Rabbinical Council of America; American Jewish Congress; World Jewish Congress; New York Board of Rabbis; American Jewish Committee; Central Conference of American Rabbis; National Conference of Christians and Jews; National Council of Jewish Women; the Chief Rabbi of Israel; the Chief Rabbi of Rome; Golda Meir; and virtually every major rabbi in New York City.
Given this historical fact, it is disturbing to read revisionist accounts blaming Pius for the Holocaust. The decision of Pius to authorize the shelter and protection of Jews, as opposed to making rhetorical flourishes denouncing the Nazis, was a wise one.
When the Dutch Catholic bishops openly condemned Hitler in 1942, more Jews were deported to death camps than from any other nation.
William A. Donohue, President