*** From [EMAIL PROTECTED] (Konrad M Lepecki)

Autor artykulu argumentuje ze papiez Pius XII nie byl papiezem
Hitlera (Hitler's Pope), ale tez nie "nadaje" sie na sprawiedliwego
wsrod narodow (righteous gentile, Yad Vashem) poniewaz mogl zrobic
wiecej, a nie zrobil.  Uzywa on tez zwrotu "charnel houses of Poland",
co wydaje sie byc podobne do "polish concentration camps".

The Christian Century March 14, 2001
   SECTION: No. 9, Vol. 118; Pg. 6 ; ISSN: 0009-5281

   HEADLINE: Judging Pius XII.

   BYLINE: Madigan, Kevin

   IN THE DEBATE over Pius XII's response or lack of response to the horrors of
Nazi Germany, very few writers
   have been able to overcome the temptation to depict him either as "Hitler's
pope" (as in John Cornwell's book
   title) or as a saint (as in the case of those pushing for his canonization).
Rabbi David G. Dalin comes to the
   latter conclusion in a recent article in the Weekly Standard (February 26).

   Actually, he does much more. Dalin declares that "Pius XII was, genuinely
and profoundly, a righteous gentile,"
   That highly charged term is used, officially and with authority, only by Yad
Vashem, Israel's respected
   Holocaust Memorial Institute. The honor is conferred (often posthumously)
upon those who heroically, often at
   lethal risk to themselves and their families, sheltered Jews from detention
and deportation into the maw of

   Even if one were to argue, as I would, that the picture of Pius as
reprehensibly complicit with Hitler (as he is
   portrayed in Roll Hochhuth's play The Deputy) is irresponsibly overdrawn and
even scurrilous, one may still
   question whether Pius deserves the sort of secular canonization bestowed by
Yad Vashem (and, it seems, not
   so subtly recommended by Rabbi Dalin). To dignify Pius as one of the
"righteous," after all, would place him in
   the company of undisputed heroes like Raoul Wallenberg and Jan Karski.

   Karski perilously infiltrated the Warsaw ghetto, then had a dentist yank
several of his teeth so that, if stopped
   while carrying back to London the intelligence he had gathered about the
Nazi apparatus of extermination, no
   one would detect his Polish-accented German and thus become suspicious.

   The Vatican was, along with England, the government in the West best
informed about Nazi atrocities. Despite
   numerous appeals for speech or action from the Polish government in exile,
from Allied diplomats, from Jewish
   leaders and organizations and even from Catholic prelates (among others),
Pius never came close to risking
   personal or institutional martyrdom, as had Karski and Wallenberg (who,
recent evidence has suggested, may
   have paid for his heroism with more than 50 years of incarceration in
communist Russia).

   Indeed, as the trains continued to roll to Auschwitz, Pius XII ever more
forcefully and explicitly insisted to the
   Allies that the city of Rome be preserved from aerial bombardment, Whatever
he did say on behalf of imperiled
   Jews--and Dalin is correct to point out that Pius was not "silent"--the
pontiff never said anything so emphatic,
   unequivocal or explicit on behalf of those innocent Jewish civilians being
conveyed to the charnel houses of
   Poland. Was the fabric and integrity of Rome's classical and ecclesiastical
patrimony more precious to Pius
   than the fate of innocent Jews deported from their homes for certain death?
More precious than the moral
   integrity of the Vicar of Christ?

   However we respond to those necessarily hard questions, it is clear that,
aside from not saying much
   emphatically, Plus did nothing, by way of shelter and rescue, on anything
like the magnitude suggested by
   Dalin. Unfortunately, Dalin cites approvingly the now thoroughly discredited
statement of Pinchas Lapide, who
   estimated that Pius "was instrumental in saving at least 700,000 but
probably as many as 860,000 Jews from
   certain death at Nazi hands." Ultramontane Catholics have since 1967 been
quick to seize upon these figures.
   Why, defenders of the wartime pontiff invariably inquire, would an Israeli
and a Jew like Lapide have reason to
   exaggerate? In this and similar cases, the answer is transparently clear:
political exigency.

   Lapide was in the 1960s an Israeli consul in Milan and was attempting, at
the time he made his inflated
   estimates, to secure Vatican recognition for the state of Israel. Similar
motives explain statements made in the
   immediate postwar period by Golda Meir and Moshe Sharett, foreign ministers
of the new state of Israel. Had
   these statements been accurate within even an order of magnitude, Pius would
perhaps deserve to be
   honored by Yad Vashem and celebrated by Rabbi Dalin as a righteous gentile.
They were not. Whatever was
   thus gained diplomatically by these statements--in the short run, precious
little--was purchased at the cost of
   considerable historical untruth.

   Rabbi Dalin also recklessly impugns the motives of those Catholic authors
(like Garry Wills and James Carroll)
   who have searchingly wondered whether their church had not
shockingly--sinfully--compromised its moral
   integrity, its mission, its very essence during the war years. Not only had
it largely remained "silent" about the
   outrage of the deportations. Perhaps more egregiously, it had actively
complied by furnishing the Nazis
   baptismal records identifying those of "non-Aryan" descent.

   Authors like Wills and Carroll have wondered what such conduct meant, and
means, for the credibility of
   Catholic Christianity. To dismiss their genuine questions as contaminated
somehow by their status as
   ex-priests (Carroll) or ex-seminarians (Wills) is to use a dishonorable
strategy. Wills and Carroll, disagree with
   them as Rabbi Dalin may, are both also honorable men; and both have always
been, and remain, devout
   Catholics. In addition, some of Pius's most eloquent, measured and
authoritative critics, like John Pawlikowski,
   O.S.M., of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and the diocesan priest and
Seton Hall professor John Morley
   (whose book is the best on the subject and, oddly enough, widely ignored in
recent debates), have remained
   in priestly orders.

   Finally, though, I must agree with Rabbi Dalin that it is a gross historical
and especially moral error to make
   Pius XII a primary target of moral outrage. To do so is to lose sight of the
stark fact that Hitler, not Pius, was
   the Prince of Darkness in 1940s Europe. It is also to fail to perceive that
other churches, Protestant as well as
   Catholic, played a terrible role not only in not resisting but in actively
promoting National Socialism. (The
   pyramidal ecclesiology of the Roman Church makes it all too easy to single
out one man for blame.) One thinks
   especially of the largely Evangelical "German Christian" churches, whose
members installed swastikas in
   churches and blasphemously raised extended right arms in homage to Hitler.

   If Pius XII never approached that level of moral depravity, it is still fair
to say that he was a cautious, passive
   diplomat, conditioned by his training in canon law and his career in foreign
service to proceed with prudence
   and discretion. In other words, he was a bureaucrat at a time when the
world, and especially the Jews of
   Europe, needed a prophet, or at least a priest more alert to demonic evil.
That doesn't make him Hitler's pope.
   Nor a righteous gentile, either.

   Kevin Madigan teaches at Harvard Divinity School and Catholic Theological


Konrad M. Lepecki

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