The War Over Pope Pius XII

The War Over Pope Pius XII June 14, 2014

Was Pope Pius XII – the pope during the second World War a Nazi sympathizer or a heroic savior of the Jews?

The battle has raged over how much Pius XII knew, what he did or didn’t do and what he could have done and didn’t do.

Those on the attack like John Cornwell (who wrote Hitler’s Pope) suppose that Pope Pius was a secret anti-Semite sympathetic to the “final solution” of the concentration camps. The Myth of Hitler’s Pope counters the argument. Written by a Jewish rabbi, David Dalin, this book argues that Pius XII was a “righteous gentile” who saved many Jews from being deported and exterminated by working secretly behind the scenes, and that he did not do this openly so as not to endanger even more people.

Today John Allen comes up with an interesting solution: let the Vatican settle the question by moving forward with the  canonization of Pius XII. The investigative process would go into the details and come up with a definitive answer to the debate. John’s article is here.

This is not the reason to canonize anyone, and I doubt if the canonization process is the best way to settle the question. It would be interesting if the Vatican had a mechanism to do some sort of objective investigation into many different controversial matters and pronounce on them.  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has procedures. The office for the causes of saints has investigative procedures. It would be good if there were some other academic, objective investigative body to gather evidence and come up with answers.

Archbishop Romero’s cause is another controversial and complicated case. When the political aspects and cultural complexities come together they often cloud the real issues, and a lesser investigative body would be a help–whether the person goes on through the canonization process or not.


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