Sr. Margherita Marchione, the celebrated American author and university professor, has asked Catholics in the Internet world to please post this which she just wrote in light of her latest book which will soon be available:
50th Anniversary of the Death of Pius XII
Catholics throughout the world will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s death at Castel Gandolfo, on October 9, 1958. Carlo Tei, who now resides in Hong Kong, wrote (March 12, 2008): “As a young student in Rome , I joined the procession of the people accompanying the body of the Pontiff, from Castel Gandolfo to the Vatican . We all felt we were accompanying a ‘Saint’ to the Holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem .” Fifty years later, in spite of five decades of misinformation and calumny, Catholics thoughout the world continue to venerate Pius XII whose efforts during World War II saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.
Pius XII was not a “silent Pope.” He explicitly condemned the “wickedness of Hitler” citing Hitler by name, and spoke out about the “fundamental rights of Jews.” The wisdom of his words and actions is supported by the evidence. In his testimony at the Adolf Eichmann Nazi War Crime Trials, Jewish scholar Jenö Levai stated: “Pius XII—the one person who did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences—is today made the scapegoat for the failures of others.”
Pope Pius XII’s peace efforts, his denunciation of Nazism, his defense of the Jewish people, have been clearly documented. Albert Einstein concluded in Time Magazine (December 23, 1940): “Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth.” Countless expressions of gratitude, on the part of Jewish chaplains and Holocaust survivors, give witness to the assistance and compassion of the Pope for the Jews before, during and after the Holocaust. Rabbi David Dalin states that “to deny the legitimacy of their collective gratitude to Pius XII is tantamount to denying their memory and experience of the Holocaust itself, as well as to denying the credibility of their personal testimony and judgment about the Pope’s role in rescuing hundreds of thousands of Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis.”
Personally and through his representatives, Pius XII employed all the means at his disposal to save Jews and other refugees during World War II. As a moral leader and a diplomat forced to limit his words, he privately took action and, despite insurmountable obstacles, saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from the gas chambers. Broadcasting in German in April 1943, Vatican Radio protested a long list of Nazi horrors, including “an unprecedented enslavement of human freedom, the deportation of thousands for forced labor, and the killing of innocent and guilty alike.”
Throughout World War II, Pius XII so provoked the Nazis that they called him “a mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.” Jewish historian and Holocaust survivor, Michael Tagliacozzo, wrote a letter to the daily newspaper “Davàr” (Tel Aviv, April 23, 1985) which states: “Little known is the precious help of the Holy See. On the recommendation of Pius XII the religious of every order did their best to save Jews.”
All experts who witnessed that era, agree that, if Pius XII had stridently attacked the Nazi leaders, more lives would have been lost. Fifty years later, I interviewed Carlo Sestieri, a Jewish survivor, who was hidden in the Vatican . In a letter to me he suggested that “only the Jews who were persecuted understand why the Holy Father could not publicly denounce the Nazi-Fascist government. Without doubt—he stated—it helped avoid worse disasters.”
The world looked with pride and admiration at the many-sided career of Pope Pius XII who, in his own agonized generation, was already recognized as a “Great Pope.” Everyone appealed to him for help to locate missing relatives. Requests for information came from all over the world. Pius XII’s virtuous life speaks for itself. On December 13, 1954, a picture story entitled “Years of a Great Pope,” appeared in Life magazine. The author states that Pius XII was deserving of the title “Great Pope” because he sought “peace for the world and the spirit” during World War II. For almost two decades, he was “unbending, working with devotion and all the skills of diplomacy to mitigate the burdens of a beleaguered world.
When he passed away on October 9, 1958, an editorial, “Fighter for Peace,” in the Los Angeles Examiner, expressed the sentiments of Catholics and non-Catholics: “Pius XII was known as ‘the Pope of Peace’ … . Never, during these troubled years, did Pius XII lose his gift of gracious beneficence. No other Pope received so many people. They numbered many millions. Whether the audiences were large or small, he conveyed a sense of intimacy and understanding. His gifts to them were hope and courage. This fighter for peace is now in peace with God.”
A new book, The Truth Will Set You Free (Paulist Press, 2008), by Margherita Marchione issues a challenge to all Catholics to learn the truth and speak out courageously. The Foreword by Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, casts a great deal of light on the present pontificate’s thinking about the campaign against Pius XII: “How profoundly unjust it is to draw a veil of prejudice over the work of Pius XII during the war….directives given on the radio, in the press, and through diplomatic channels were clear. In that tragic year of 1942 he told everyone: ‘Action, not lamentation, is the precept of the hour.’"
Margherita Marchione, PhD, author of: Yours Is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy (1997); Pius XII: Architect for Peace (2000); Consensus and Controversy:Defending Pius XII (2002); Shepherd of Souls: A Pictorial Life of Pius XII (2002), Man of Peace (2003), Crusade of Charity: Pius XII and POWs (2006); Did Pope Pius XII Help the Jews? (2007) Paulist Press. [E-mail Sr.Margherita.Marchione@ATT.NET/Tel. 973-538-2886, Ext. 116/FAX 973-539-9327].