The BBC has admitted that it was wrong to accuse Pope Pius XII of remaining “silent” during the Holocaust. The British media giant pivoted as a result of an internal probe of the pope’s role.
The revised position came in response to strong criticism of a BBC report last July that accused the pope of doing nothing while Jews were being murdered by Hitler. Two prominent men, Lord Alton and Father Leo Chamber-lain, registered an official complaint; it was the visit by Pope Francis to Auschwitz that occasioned the negative story.
The BBC’s editorial complaint unit examined the response by Pope Pius XII to Nazi aggression and concluded that the July story “did not give due weight to public statements by successive popes or the efforts made on instructions of Pius XII to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution, and perpetuated a view which is at odds with the balance of evidence.”
In 1999, a British author, John Cornwell, went beyond the myth that Pius XII was inactive during the Holocaust: he branded him “Hitler’s Pope.” The book was seriously flawed, though it was received with much fanfare. Years later, Cornwell admitted that he was wrong in his assessment, but, predictably, it was never trumpeted by historians and the media the way his initial conclusion was.
Kudos to the BBC for admitting it was wrong about Pope Pius XII. Many others, both at home and abroad, need to follow suit.