Sunday, May 23, 2010
The "Nazi" Pope
I am not going to say one thing below that is original. But it always appalls me when people believe the opposite of the truth and I have to speak up about it.
Eugenio Pacelli was a small but determined man of great intelligence and high principle. He became Pope Pius XII in 1939 and was Pope throughout WWII. He had been papal nuncio in Germany for many years prior to that and came to speak perfect German -- a remarkable achievement for an Italian who had all his education in Italy. During his time in Germany he saw of course the rise of Nazism and regularly condemned it in no uncertain terms.
In 1937 he wrote on behalf of Pius XI the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge ("With burning sorrow") -- a condemnation of Nazi persecution of non-Nazis. Encyclicals are usually written in Latin so writing this encyclical in German showed how determined the church was to speak up on behalf of all those being oppressed by the Nazis.
The tiny minority of Pacelli's critics who have some knowledge of history sometimes point to the fact that in his role as nuncio, Pacelli was responsible for a Konkordat with the German Federal government that was signed in 1933. Pacelli's job was to arrange concordats (agreements) with various governments that would safeguard the independence of church schools, allow the preaching of Catholic doctrine etc. And he did in fact achieve many such agreements, an agreement with the Southern German (and very Catholic) State of Bayern (Bavaria) being one of the earliest. German Laender, were, like American States today, substantially independent and had their own legal and school systems etc.
Pacelli had been trying for some time to get such an agreement with the Federal German government but had always been knocked back. When Hitler came to power, however, he was keen to legitimate himself so he changed the prior Federal stance and signed up. At that stage Hitler was simply the newly-elected German Kanzler (Prime Minister) and there was of course no knowledge of his future deeds. So how was Pacelli at fault about that? It may be noted that when Mit brennender Sorge was issued Hitler broke his agreements in the Konkordat and persecuted Catholic clergy. So the arrangement of a Konkordat was a wise precaution, even if it was a precaution that ultimately failed.
Pacelli did however learn from what happened when Mit brennender Sorge was issued. When war broke out, Pacelli fell largely silent. He saw that he would probably bring down further persecution of the church by adding to his existing criticisms of Nazism. Instead he concentrated on deeds rather than words. The Vatican became a lifeline for endangered Jews. It supplied money to get them out of Germany and false ID documents saying that they were Christians. And note that this was at a time when the church regarded the Jews as enemies. In the theology of the time, the Jews had killed the Catholics' God and that was one hell of a bad way to start a friendship.
And when the Germans came to Italy itself, Pacelli rose to even greater efforts. He exempted monasteries and nunneries from their normal rules so that they could take in and hide Jews that the Nazis were pursuing. Even his own summer residence at Castel Gandolfo was said at one time to be hiding 3,000 Jews, though nobody knows the exact number.
And this is the man whom many Leftists refer to as "Hitler's Pope"! So why the lie? Why is this exceptionally fine man "controversial"?
Easy: Soviet disinformation. As we all know, the church utterly opposed "Godless" Communism and the Soviets rightly perceived the Vatican as an important enemy. So the Soviets and their fellow travellers in the West put about this abominable lie that Pacelli was antisemitic and sympathetic to the Nazis. And it suits the anti-Christian stance of modern-day Leftists to believe it too.
So it grieves me greatly that this true man of God is taken for the opposite of what he was. The world needs more men like Eugenio Pacelli -- perhaps now more than ever. Even I as an atheist salute him.
There is an interesting story here about how one man finally broke through the lies and found out the truth about Pacelli.