The Catholic League’s New York Times ad on Pius XII triggered a storm of protest from Jewish readers. The e-mail, phone calls and letters took great umbrage at the suggestion that the Catholic Church was less than complicit in the killing of Jews during the Holocaust. While some of the letters were reasoned, many could easily be classified as hate mail.
The purpose of the ad was to encourage readers to rethink the reigning mythology on the subject. It was not until the 1963 play by Rolf Hochhuth, “The Deputy,” that public opinion began to change: the Church that was for more than two decades praised for not being silent was somehow now being blamed for doing nothing, or, worse, being complicit with Hitler.
The league regrets that some people reacted with sheer emotion (complete, in some cases, with obscenities), but trusts that many others have begun to reexamine the issue. Look for more on the role Pius played in the next edition of Catalyst.