Action Alert!
Catholic World News

Biographer of Pius XII rejects charge that Vatican helped Nazi war criminals escape

April 17, 2012

A Harvard professor’s essay charging that Pope Pius XII deliberately helped Nazi war criminals escape punishment is a “verifiably false account,” according to a scholar who has written extensively on the wartime Pontiff.

Harvard Divinity School’s Kevin Madigan wrote in Commentary magazine that the Vatican under Pope Pius XII operated “a sort of papal mercy program for National Socialists and Fascists.” But Ronald Rychlak, the author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope said that Madigan’s essay was marred by “sloppy work and over-the-top charges.”

The Pontifical Aid Commission, the focus of the Madigan complaint, was swamped by requests for help from hundreds of thousands of refugees after the war, Rychlak explained, and the volume of work “made it impossible to investigate most individuals who sought help.”

Rychlak said that Madigan was also wrong to suggest that Bishop Alois Hudal, a prelate with known sympathies for the Nazis, represented the views of the Vatican. In fact, Rychlak pointed out, Pope Pius XII once refused to meet with a group of Austrian pilgrims if Bishop Hudal accompanied them.

Pope Pius XII called on several occasions for vigorous prosecution of Nazi war criminals, and assigned a Jesuit priest to help prosecutors, Rychlak said.


Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Defender - Apr. 17, 2012 10:32 PM ET USA

    "He also regularly teaches courses on the Holocaust and has published several articles on the Roman Catholic Church during the Nazi period." - from the Harvard site. It is indeed sloppy work and, of course, the students going through the Divinity School with an erroneous impression of the times. Venerable Pius XII was (and is) a saint. Rabbi Dalin's book is a must read, also.