Pope Pius XII — Saint Or Sinner?

The decision by Pope Benedict XVI to accelerate the process of making Pope Pius XII a saint has aroused the anger of many Jews as well as non-Jews who are disappointed with the failure of action by Pope Pius XII during World War II. Many Jewish scholars seek an opportunity to have access to Vatican archives in order to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of actions by Pope Pius XII toward the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. Current scholarship suggests the Pope hesitated to confront Nazism in a direct fashion, and, in so doing failed to take actions that might have led to saving thousands of Jews from death. Pope Benedict XVI hails Pius for his “heroic virtues” during the course of his life.

Perhaps, Benedict can cite any of these “heroic virtues” which led to saving the lives of hundreds of priests who were killed by the Nazis. It would have been an act of virtue to walk in the streets of Rome when Germans rounded up Jews as did the King of Denmark, it would have been an act of virtue if Pius had gone to Nazi concentration camps where priests were held and refused to leave until they were freed. There are many virtuous acts Pope Pius could have done like going directly to Auschwitz and remaining in the area as a symbol of protest.

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  • Adrian

    I am afraid the critics of Pius XII tend to simplify the extreme complex situtation in which that pontiff had to do his job. It is easy, in hindsight, to sanctimoneously criticise behaviour. The Vatican archivists have completed the catologuing of the previous Pope, Pius XI, and are now working on the millions of documents of Pius XII’s reign – it was a long pontificate and will take a few years to digitalize and catologue for the study of scholars. In the meantime 12 volumes titled “Acts and Documents of the Holy See relating to the Second World War” have already been available for more than two decades. And, why is it that the Jewish foundation “Pave the Way”, that has also done a lot of research on this matter, has no problem with the declaration of Pius XII as “Venerable”?
    Benedict XVI has waited two years before signing this decree because he wanted still more research results on this matter. It seems he and others are convinced that Pius XII could be at least declared venerable.