The Download—The Pius XII Lie

News: Commentary
by Church Militant  •  •  February 8, 2016   

The myth of Pius XII's inaction in WWII isn't just wrong, it's an outright falsehood

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By Peter O'Dwyer

Modern society accepts without question that Pius XII sat by and did nothing during the Holocaust. But what does this assumption stand on?

The idea of "Callous Pius" is very much a Baby-Boomer-on-up ideology. The idea didn't start getting traction until the 1960s, conspicuously at the same time the first generation that did not live through the war came of age.

Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former KGB agent and the highest-ranking military official to defect to the United States from behind the Iron Curtain, explained that the Soviet Union tried discrediting Pius XII in the 1940s but failed, as those alive at the time remembered the Pope's heroic efforts.

It would only be in the 1960s that the KGB's attempts to smear Pius XII began to make an impression on a new generation.


The seminal work accusing Pius XII of collaboration with the Nazis, a play called "The Deputy," was first released in 1963 by Rolf Hochhuth, who was a boy during World War II, and neither a witness nor a participant in the events. The play received wide criticism at the time for its inaccuracy, with even secular observers unsympathetic to the Church, including the Encyclopedia Britannica, coolly describing the play as "unhistorical." But the play was heavily promoted by the KGB and finally found its way onto Broadway and into mainstream consciousness. Performed in an era when mass rebellion was already taking place against the Church, the public swallowed the lies whole.

The current major critical work on Pius XII, a book titled "Hitler's Pope," was published in 1999 — 55 years after the events occurred. Furthermore, anyone still living and available to the author who was an eyewitness would have been in their 30s at most during the 1940s. The vast majority of the key decisionmakers and their advisors were considerably older at the time.

The "Callous Pius" myth is as shallow as they come, and the historiography behind it is emotion-driven propoganda. The time has come for Ven. Pope Pius XII to be rehabilitated and take his place among the heroes of the 20th century — where he belongs.


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