Vatican denies wartime Pope was pro-Nazi

The Vatican has forcefully rejected accusations that wartime Pope Pius XII was an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathiser who turned a blind eye to the Holocaust during the second world war. "He certainly was not. He helped the Jews," said Father Pierre Blet, the Vatican's leading historian on the period.

Father Blet, a French Jesuit, was responding to a point-blank question - "Was Pius an anti-Semite?" - asked at a news conference launching the Italian version of Father Blet's book.

Father Blet and Cardinal Pio Laghi repeated the Vatican's position that Pope Pius did not speak out forcefully in defence of Jews because he feared that lashing out against Hitler would have worsened their fate and that of Catholics.

"The public silence (of Pius XII) was the cover for a secret activity through Vatican embassies and bishoprics to try to stop the deportations," Father Blet said.

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Michael Finn - 8/20/2005

Just a few points regarding this issue.

1: One historian's estimate is that the Vatican saved 800,000 Jewish lives during WWII. If this number is inflated by half, it is still more Jewish lives saved than any country or individual during that time period.

2: Pius XII condemned the Nazis on many occasions before and after being elected Pope. At his death Pius Xii was recognized for this by Golda Meir and the New York Times who referred to him as one of the few people who spoke out during the war (were they wrong?). The Nazis tried to prevent Pius XII's election as Pope and they issued orders to have him kidnapped during the war. Why do this to someone who is an alleged supporter?

3: Does anyone really believe that daily condemnations by the Vatican would have convinced Hitler to stop the killings? Hardly. Hitler was an avowed atheist, not a Catholic. Pius XII was on record as being opposed to both Nazism and the killing of Jews.

4: Were there Catholic clergy who supported the Nazis? Sure there were, but this was not due to any consistant policy on the part of the Vatican, in fact, supporting the Nazis was contrary to stated Vatican policy. That policy was pronounced by Pius XII.

5: It seems to be correct that the condemnations by the Vatican brought further reprisals against Catholics by the Nazis. This may have caused some judement calls on the part of the Vatican; however, they were done to save lives, not at the expense of any Jewish lives. Many Catholics died in consentration camps.

This Pius XII/Hitler stuff comes up every year and has no histoical basis. It is promoted by folks, mostly non-Jewish, that hate the Catholic church.

For an excellent refutation of the Pius XII nonsense, I refer you to the website of the Catholic League at

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