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Vatican newspaper again defends Pope Pius XII

February 02, 2010

Two weeks after L’Osservatore Romano reprinted an article by Bernard-Henri Lévy blasting media caricatures of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Pius XII, the Vatican newspaper has reprinted an article by New York-based writer Dimitri Cavalli defending the wartime Pontiff. The article originally appeared in Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.

“The campaign against Pope Pius XII is doomed to failure because his detractors cannot sustain their main charges against him-- that he was silent, pro-Nazi, and did little or nothing to help the Jews-- with evidence,” writes Cavalli. “Perhaps only in a backward world such as ours would the one man who did more than any other wartime leader to help Jews and other Nazi victims receive the greatest condemnation.”

In an interview carried by the Italian daily La Stampa (and translated into English by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, who served in the Vatican diplomatic corps during World War II, emphasized: "Pius XII was totally anti-Nazi. Always."

Cardinal Silvestrini recalled that Pope Pius was chastened by the experience of the Dutch Catholic bishops, who issued a strong condemnation of Nazi race ideology-- only to see the Nazis launch a brutal crackdown on the Catholic Church, while continuing their genocidal campaign. The wartime Pope feared that he could provoke a similar reaction, Cardinal Silvestrini said.

The retired Italian prelate added, however, that Pius XII showed his strong anti-Nazi convictions by agreeing to act as liaison between the Allied powers and the Germans who sought to oust Hitler. In taking that role, the Pope was going "against every procedure," Cardinal Silvestrini said. He explained: "A head of state never acts as a go-between on these matters. Pius XII did it because he was convinced that Germany could be saved."


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