November 11, 2013

Re: the two articles in the Oct. 14 issue on the condemnation of papal silence during the Holocaust years.

I appreciate the desire to be honest with the facts regarding Pope Pius XII’s supposed sin of omission during the Holocaust. However; why wasn’t there any coverage on all that he did do to save Jews?

Nothing was mentioned of his credit for authoring Mit brennender Sorge which thoroughly condemned Nazism and racism, causing reprisals including closure of Catholic publishers and the arrest and public shaming of members of the clergy.

What about the thousands of falsified documents the Vatican created to rescue Jews or the pope’s order that religious buildings be used as sanctuary for Jewish refugees? Rabbi Lapide, a former Israeli diplomat, recalls, “No less than 3,000 Jews found refuge at the pope’s summer residence.”

Some complain that he didn’t speak out enough, assuming that relentless lip service would have helped. It’s easy to argue the opposite when you consider that the archbishop of Utrecht spoke out against Jewish deportation causing the Nazis to murder Catholic Jews, including Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta).

Perhaps Pope Pius knew that he could do more in secret and that drawing attention to himself would shine a spotlight on the thousands hiding in his care.

Consider this statement by a rescued Jewish couple: “None of us wanted the pope to take an open stand. The Gestapo would have . . . intensified its inquisitions. It was better that the pope said nothing. We all shared this opinion.”

Rabbi Lapide estimated the total number of Jews saved by the Church and the clandestine actions of Pope Pius to be close to 860,000. That’s a remarkable figure in light of the accusations of Dr. Zuccotti which, in my view, makes her speech, and the WCR’s coverage of it, nothing more than slander against a venerable holy man.

Brian Holdsworth