The Courage of Pius XII: A Rebellion Against Nazism

pius xii

Venerable Pope Pius XII

It has been said that Pope Pius XII, during World War II, did not do much to help the Jewish people, who were victims of Hitler’s Nazi terrorism. Pius is portrayed to have seemingly turned a blind eye while the Jews suffered terrible persecutions under Adolf Hitler. This charge, like many other allegations against the Church, is simply not true.

Pope Pius, in reality did quite a lot to protest the Nazi cause, and also made extreme efforts to save the lives of the Jews. Fr. Leo Chamberlain, in his article, The end of the ‘Hitler’s Pope’ myth, writes:

“This is a good moment to mark the Church’s witness against Nazism. Eighty years ago, on March 14, 1937, Pope Pius XI issued Mit Brennender Sorge (“With Burning Anxiety”), an encyclical, pointedly written in German, condemning Nazism. “Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the state, and divinises them to an idolatrous level, perverts an order of the world created by God,” the pope wrote.

“Pius XI’s secretary of state was Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pius XII. He distributed the text, which he had helped to draft, secretly within Germany. Four years earlier, in 1933, he had negotiated a concordat between the Holy See and Germany, not to appease Nazism but to have some means of holding the Nazis to account through an international treaty. The regime referred to him as “Jew loving”: he had made more than 50 protests against Nazi policy, the earliest coming just days after the passing of the Enabling Act, which granted Hitler the power to enact laws without Reichstag approval. Pacelli was regarded as so anti-Nazi that the Third Reich attempted to prevent his election as pope in 1939.” (1)

In his encyclical Summi Pontificatus, Pope Pius XII asked that all Catholics “will be mindful in imitation of the Divine Samaritan, of all these who, as victims of the war, have a right to compassion and help.” (2)

Pius is writing of all the victims of the war, especially the Jews, that they may receive aid.

Mgr. Jean Bernard, a former inmate of Dachau, accounts of the reaction to any Vatican protests against Nazism:

“The detained priests trembled every time news reached us of some protest by a religious authority, but particularly by the Vatican. We all had the impression that ouris warders made us atone heavily for the fury these protests evoked … whenever the way we were treated became more brutal, the Protestant pastors among the prisoners used to vent their indignation on the Catholic priests: ‘Again your big naive Pope and those simpletons, your bishops, are shooting their mouths off .. why don’t they get the idea once and for all, and shut up. They play the heroes and we have to pay the bill.'” (3)

From reading this far, one gets the idea that Pope Pius XII adequately spoke out against the Nazis and their treatment of the Jews. But the pope did much more than merely condemn Nazi behavior.

Robert A. Graham S.J., writes:

“In 1943 the German ambassador to the Holy See, Von Weizsaecker, sent a telegram to Berlin. The telegram has been cited as damning ‘evidence’ against Pius XII.

” ‘Although under pressure from all sides, the Pope has not let himself be drawn into any demonstrative censure of the deportation of Jews from Rome … As there is probably no reason to expect other German actions against the Jews of Rome we can consider that a question so disturbing to German-Vatican relations has been liquidated.’

“Von Weizsaecker’s telegram was in fact a warning not to proceed with the proposed Nazi popedeportation of the Roman Jews: ‘there is probably no reason to expect other German actions against the Jews of Rome’. Von Weizsaecker’s action was backed by a warning to Hitler from Pius XII: if the pursuit and arrest of Roman Jews was not halted, the Holy Father would have to make a public protest. together the joint action of Von Weizsaecker and Pius XII ended the Nazi manhunt against the Jews of Rome. 7,000 lives were saved.” (4)

In addition to this accomplishment, a near 80,000 baptismal certificates were issued by Church authorities, under the pope’s direction, to Hungarian Jews. The baptismal certificates made it appear that the Jews were actually Catholics, thus saving them from the Nazis. (5)

Venerable Pope Pius XII did quite a lot of good for the Jews, protecting many of them from the Nazis, despite what many may want one to believe today. There should be no question about his character and courage, especially when confronted by the power of Nazi Germany.

Albert Einstein, who had escaped Nazi Germany, said in 1940:

Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth … I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.” (6)

Pius should be viewed not as Pontus Pilate, who allowed Christ to be crucified, but as a hero, who took extreme efforts to save the Jews.

— Patrick E. Devens

 


 

O Venerable Pope Pius XII, who had on earth great courage to preach the word of God, vigor to repel the enemies of the Church, and zeal for the Holy Name, pray for us poor sinners. May we, O Pius, have a double portion of thy righteous qualities in defense of our holy Church. May we never abandon our duty to defend the faith, with fortitude, wherever we are and in whatever state God hath put us. Venerable Pius, may we, like thee, show the radiant glory of our Holy Lord in everything we do and say. And this, through the graciousness of the Divine Majesty, to Whom we humbly ask thee to pray for our benefit and protection.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 


 

(1) https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/the-end-of-the-hitlers-pope-myth/

(2) Article 109 https://web.archive.org/web/20130703015921/http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_20101939_summi-pontificatus_en.html

(3) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/860-000-lives-saved-the-truth-about-pius-xii-and-the-jews

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/march-10th-2017/the-end-of-the-hitlers-pope-myth/

 

The Legacy of the True (?) Historical Patrick: Catholic Thinker Commentary

This is my take on an article that claims to reveal the legacy of the true Saint Patrick of Ireland. When I noticed some errors on the life of my patron saint, I couldn’t help resist responding. All dark quotations are from original article.

(Original article: https://pilgrimsprogressrevisted.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/the-legacy-of-the-true-historical-patrick-by-richard-bennett/ )

“Catholicism now, and to some extent even in Patrick’s time, looks to sacraments as necessary for salvation. Patrick saw himself only as a sinner saved by grace in Christ Jesus. Patrick’s message is that salvation is totally in Christ alone–a message utterly diverse from that of Roman Catholicism then and now.”

First I wish to state that Catholics teach that we are saved by Christ’s grace alone also. We taught this before any Protestant sect was created. While their have been clerical abuses in teaching, that does not mean that the official teaching of the Church changed. A sacrament, by definition, is the way Christ’s grace is given to a person.

“A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” (Baltimore catechism No. 3 – Lesson 13 – Question 574)

Now, we can spend all day arguing how exactly God communicates grace to us, as I am sure we disagree on some points, but the sacraments communicate Christ’s grace. They are instituted by Christ. To say that the Catholic Church does not trust in its salvation through Christ is extremely laughable, when one realizes what sacraments truly are.

Interestingly, in his Confessio, St. Patrick states:

“All of us deserved this slavery because we had turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments. We had not been obedient to our priests, who were encouraging us to do those things necessary for salvation.” (St. Patrick’s Confessio [1])

Patrick saw it necessary to not only have faith, but also keep the commandments. Patrick also says that he deserved slavery because he hadn’t listened to the priests, who instructed people in the way of salvation. Gee, seems like Patrick was different from Protestants today! He said he should have listened to the priests. Why would there be priests if St. Patrick was a Christian so unlike the Roman Catholic Church?

Furthermore, Patrick cites distributing several sacraments while in Ireland:

“…those thousands of my children whom I have baptized into the Lord” (St. Patrick’s Confessio [14])

“He has given me so many graces, so many people have been reborn for eternal life in God and afterwards confirmed and some have been ordained as clergy throughout the land…” (St. Patrick’s Confessio [37])

Patrick also speaks about religious orders of men and women, the same types of orders and vows Catholic religious undergo today:

“How come the sons and daughters of Irish kings are becoming monks and virgins consecrated to Christ?” (St. Patrick’s Confessio [41])

Patrick speaks of an altar also; why would he do this if he was nothing like a Catholic?

“They laid gifts on the altar from their jewelry and were shocked at me when I returned these to them.” (St. Patrick’s Confessio [49])

These are just a few questionable things that a person so unlike the Roman Catholics of today said. It makes you think that the writer of the original post tried to make Patrick fit the image he had in mind.

“Patrick, the Christian Evangelist, being about 30 years old and together with some brothers in the Lord, set out for Ireland. He arrived in or about the year 405. This fact of history is authentic and verified. For example, Marcus, an Irish Bishop, who lived at the beginning of the ninth century, states that Patrick came to Ireland in the year 405 AD and Nennius, who lived about the same time, repeats the statement. This date is of great importance because many centuries later there was an attempt made to confuse Patrick with Palladius, who had been sent out by Pope Celestine as a missionary to Ireland. When news of Patrick’s Christian success had reached Rome, Pope Celestine then sent Palladius as a bishop to bring the churches under the control of the Papacy. It was in 432, at least 27 years after Patrick’s commission from God, that Palladius from Rome came on the scene. When Palladius did come to Ireland, it was to an Ireland that had many Christian churches and that did not accept his message of subservience to the Bishop of Rome. In actual fact, Palladius was greatly discouraged by his lack of success. To quote from the historian Philip Schaff, ‘Palladius was so discouraged that he soon abandoned the field, with his assistants, for north Britain, where he died among the Picts….The Roman mission of Palladius failed; the independent mission of Patrick succeeded. He is the true Apostle of Ireland, and has impressed his memory in indelible characters upon the Irish race at home and abroad.’ “

It should be noted that dates in St. Patrick’s life cannot be placed with certainty. The entry for 431 AD Chronicle of Prosper of Aquitaine says:

Palladius, having been ordained by Pope Celestine, is sent as first bishop to the Irish believing in Christ

Many historians believe that Palladius was on Ireland slightly before or at the same time as Patrick. But one cannot conclusively determine the exact date. But this quote above is not “many centuries later” as the author suggests that it was following centuries that Pallagius was confused with Patrick.

Pallagius is said to have exited Ireland the same year of his arrival, not due to the Christian people not accepting his message, but because he was banished by the king of Leinster.

“Darkness covered Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. The Dark Ages had begun and the Roman Church, having gained rulership through intrigue and persecution, now held most of Europe in her iron grip. Even so, in those dark centuries, the Irish missionaries continued to spread the true Gospel, seed which for centuries to come would bear much good fruit all across Europe.”

Who exactly did the Church persecute during the 9th and 10th centuries?? And why were these ages called “Dark”? I speak about the accomplishments of the “Dark” Ages here: https://whysoseriousdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/the-dark-ages-a-historical-misnomer/

It seems like Mr. Bennett did not take in everything that St. Patrick’s Confession actually had to say, but attempted to make the character of Saint Patrick fit his own agenda. What a pity.

 


 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

(Lorica of Saint Patrick)

 

 

 

 

The Dark Ages: A Historical Misnomer

The time in history between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance (usually interpreted as the period between the 5th and 15th century) is referred to by many as the “Dark” Ages. This period of time is often thought to be an age of ignorance in Europe, a time only ended by the “enlightenment” of the Italian Renaissance. The Renaissance, the praised period of progress and free-thinking, is viewed to be far superior to the time of the Dark Ages.

The people of the Dark Ages are treated as if they were cave men; slow minded and stupid. The time period is thought to be a period of intense ignorance and utter gloom. It was only after the era of the Renaissance that man’s eyes were opened, and he was enlightened. The point that I wish to make is that the “Dark” Ages were not as dark as they are made to seem.

For instance, regarding the supposed ignorant people of the Dark Ages, what about all the great thinkers of that time? The philosophers, inventors, writers…

Bartholoneus Anglicus (13th century)

Franciscan who wrote the first medieval encyclopedia of science

Berthold Schwarz (13th century)

Inventor of firearms

Basil Valentine (14th century)

Founder of analytical chemistry

Fra Mauro (13 century)

Made the first geographical chart

Roger Bacon (13 century)

Father of experimental science

St. Bede (6th century)

Wrote first English history book: An Ecclesiastical History of the English People

St. Thomas Aquinas (13th century)

Catholic theologian and influential philosopher

Dante Alighieri (13 century)

Italian poet

Charlemagne (8th century)

Holy Roman Emperor who contributed much to the education system

Geoffrey Chaucer (12th century)

Poet and writer…Wrote The Canterbury Tales

Johann Gutenberg (15th century)

Inventor of the printing press

St. Bonaventure (13th century)

Catholic theologian and philosopher

John Duns Scotus (13th century)

Catholic theologian and philosopher

These people were brilliant thinkers in their own respects; unparalleled minds. They all made great contributions to history, did they not? These accomplishments are instead ignored, and their time period referred to as “dark”.

Inventors and philosophers were not the only contributors of the Dark Ages. Architects made great progress as well. A new style of architecture was developed: the Gothic. With many windows and high walls supported by flying buttresses, the Gothic style was a architectural breakthrough. The cathedrals constructed were miniature skyscrapers, with foundations underground as deep as a subway. How can this style be ignored?

In addition to accomplishments in architecture, there were many other positive occurrences in the Dark Ages. For instance, it was in the Dark Ages that universities were born. Higher education was being made available across Europe through the universities. The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, was the first university to grant degrees. Was this educational milestone to be considered “dark”?

Along with the opening of universities of the Dark Ages, there was the Byzantine Golden Age. In this time of the Byzantine Empire, many books were written — encyclopedias, dictionaries, and anthologies. These literary works paved the way for reference books as we know them today. Referring to an age of innovation as such as “dark” only discounts the time period’s accomplishments.

In the early part of the Dark Ages , there was even Church unity. A unified Church, an undisputed biblical canon, and well developed tradition were some things enjoyed in the Dark Ages before the Protestant Revolution.

Thanks to contributions from Islam, the first Algebra book was written. The Compendious Book on Calculation written by Al-Khw’rism (790-840) was the cornerstone to advanced mathematics as we know it today.

The first heavy plow, water mill, hour glass, water clock, liquor, eye glasses, and printing press were made in the Dark Ages. With all these accomplishments in the “Dark” Ages, how can people refer to the time period as dark, full of ignorance? With all the accomplishments and contributions of the time period, the Dark Ages should be considered no less innovative than the time of the Renaissance.

— Patrick E. Devens

 

William Tyndale: Victim or Criminal?

One fanciful story dealing with Catholic Church history is the death of William Tyndale. Many non-Catholics will tell you that members of the Roman Catholic Church murdered Tyndale on account of translating the Bible to English. This accusation is often made in support of the argument that the Catholic Church does not encourage the reading of the Scriptures. When confronted with this accusation, I had to take a deeper look into the life, and death, of William Tyndale.

An important piece of the puzzle is that, at the time of Tyndale, it was not legal to translate any unauthorized edition of the Bible into English. This law, passed by the Synod of Oxford in 1408, prohibited any unauthorized version of the Bible to be translated to English, and also the reading of such. The law was put into effect after another translator, John Wycliffe, produced a translation of the Bible that was corrupt and full of heresy; an improper rendition of Scripture. Both the Church and the secular authorities condemned it and did their best to prevent it from being used to teach false doctrine and morals. Because of the scandal that was caused by the Wycliffe translation, the Synod of Oxford then passed the law.

A fact usually ignored by Protestant historians is that many English versions of the Scriptures existed before Wycliffe, and these were authorized and perfectly legal. Also legal would be any future authorized translations. And certainly reading these translations was not only legal but also encouraged. All this law did was to prevent any private individual from publishing his own translation of Scripture without the approval of the Church. And that is exactly what Tyndale did.

Catholic Answers, in their article Tyndale’s Heresy by Matthew A. C. Newsome ( https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/tyndales-heresy ), says:

“Tyndale was an English priest of no great fame who desperately desired to make his own English translation of the Bible. The Church denied him for several reasons.

“First, it saw no real need for a new English translation of the Scriptures at this time. In fact, booksellers were having a hard time selling the print editions of the Bible that they already had. Sumptuary laws had to be enacted to force people into buying them.

“Second, we must remember that this was a time of great strife and confusion for the Church in Europe. The Reformation had turned the continent into a very volatile place. So far, England had managed to remain relatively unscathed, and the Church wanted to keep it that way. It was thought that adding a new English translation at this time would only add confusion and distraction where focus was needed.

“Lastly, if the Church had decided to provide a new English translation of Scripture, Tyndale would not have been the man chosen to do it. He was known as only a mediocre scholar and had gained a reputation as a priest of unorthodox opinions and a violent temper. He was infamous for insulting the clergy, from the pope down to the friars and monks, and had a genuine contempt for Church authority. In fact, he was first tried for heresy in 1522, three years before his translation of the New Testament was printed. His own bishop in London would not support him in this cause.”

Well, Tyndale struck out on his own, and illegally made a translation of the Bible into English. The secular authorities (not the Catholic Church) arrested Tyndale, and he was sentenced to die in 1536.

In reality, Tyndale was a criminal, a breaker of the law. He knew very well that it was illegal to make an unauthorized translation. A look at the facts behind Tyndale’s death should scatter the notion that Catholics murdered him for simply translating the Bible, just another fanciful “history” of the Catholic Church.

— Patrick E. Devens