Pius XII

Question:

I see that you have some answers to questions about the Catholic Church's response to the holocaust,...and that is quite helpful. However I am in the process of writing a senior project on Pius XII and his involvement in the Holocaust. I was wondering if there is anything else published that would give me more insight into his decisions as Pope. Perhaps there is some material that deals with his childhood, or with his schooling. I know quite a bit, but somehow I feel that I am missing something. I am concerned that I will be unable to produce an accurate senior project unless I try to get beyond my own bias and delve into what society produced this man. With a better understanding of this then perhaps I will be able to better understand the reasons for his silence. Although I can not condone it, I can honestly say that from my perspective in 1999 it is also a lot easier to condemn it then it is to understand it. Any information that you can give me, whether it is just pointing me in the direction of a few books or articles would be greatly appreciated. If you can't help out with his youth then perhaps you could direct me towards any information that deals with Pius XII and WWII. Maybe you will direct me to a source that I haven't found yet. I appreciate any help that you are able to give me.

Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:

Thank you for your questions regarding the Catholic Church's response to the Holocaust.

As I point out in my original response to a similar question, this is a complicated and delicate issue. In the article I refer to quite a number of books on the subject some of which favor the position that Pius XII took, others who criticize it. These books cover the activities of Pius XII from about 1919 until his death. If you look at these books in your local library you will probably find answers to most of your questions.

I can also suggest a few more -- there are dozens of books on the subject -- that you might wish to peruse:

The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI
Georges Passelecq and Bernard Suchecky
Transl. from the French by Steven Rendall
c. 1997, Harcourt Brace & Co. (New York)
ISBN 0-15-100244--4

From the dust cover:

"In June 1938, after his attempts at diplomacy with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy had failed, Pope Pius XI ordered an American Jesuit, Father John LaFarge, to compose an encyclical denouncing racism and anti-Semitism. The result was a draft called 'Humani Generis Unitas' (The Unity of the Human Race), which LaFarge produced with the help of two other priests.

But after Pope Pius XI died early in 1939, his successor stood by in silence as Nazi Germany began to carry out its Final Solution. The unpublished encyclical was buried in a secret archive, its three authors bound by a vow of silence." [...]

and:

The Papacy and Totalitarianism Between the Two Wars
Charles F. Delzell (Editor)
c. 1974, John Wiley & Sons (New York)
ISBN 0-471-20638-5

From the Introduction:

"[...] Pius XII has been widely denounced for tending to immure himself behind walls of silence during the war, a stillness that was interrupted only occasionally by messages cast often in obscure, convoluted language. What lay behind this wall of silence? [...] In this confection, it may be pointed out that Pacelli was no stranger to Germany. During World War I he had been dispatched there on an important diplomatic mission for the Vatican. He was stationed at the Apostolic Nunciature in Munich in April 1919 when armed Spartacist Red Guards broke in. Pacelli insisted on facing them alone. His firm and dignified protest caused them to withdraw without violence. One critic has argued that this victory served as both a genuine shock and stimulant to Pacelli's nervous system and produced in him a kind of self-exaltation [FN-1]. The reader may wish to ponder whether such an experience could have made Pacelli unduly sympathetic to German right-wing forces or whether it may have helped inspire his denunciations of Communist regimes after World War II. [...]"

[FN-1] Carlo Falconi, The Silence of Pius XII, trans. by Bernard Wall (Boston-Toronto: Little Brown and Company, 1970), p. 85

If you could be more precise about what it is you are seeking to prove, I will try to be of further assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE

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