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March 3, 2015 3:46 pm

Italian Film Defending Pope Pius XII’s Holocaust Record Criticized by Jews and Christians

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A new Italian film portrays Pope Pius XII, who was in office during the Holocaust, in a positive light. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Jews and Christians are objecting to a new Italian film that portrays Pope Pius XII, who was in office during the Holocaust, in a more positive light.

Pope Pius XII has been heavily criticized for ignoring the mass atrocities being committed by the Nazis at that time, and for failing to speak out publicly or use the influence of his position to try to stop the extermination of the Jewish people and other groups.

Shades of Truth, which has been badly received by viewers, recounts the story of a fictional American journalist who begins as a heavy critic of Pius but then changes his mind based on research in Rome, Europe and Israel.

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The current pontiff Pope Francis told a Spanish newspaper last year that Pius “has to be seen in the context of that era.” The Vatican has also claimed that Pius actually worked behind the scenes to save thousands of Jews, but kept publicly silent, fearing that his words could lead to more deaths by the Nazis.

However, even the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said the film that refers to Pius as “the most misunderstood person of the 20th century” was “naive”, “lacking credibility” and a “frankly clumsy attempt” at defending the pontiff, Reuters reported.

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  • The late Sir Martin Gilbert zl was among the top historians of WW2 and the Holocaust In ‘The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy’ we read that the Vatican condemned the Vichy Govt’s treatment of Jews in 1942 as incompatable with the Catholic faith[page 451], Italian soldiers refused to take part in Nazi anti-Semitism because of Vatican opposition [page 466]. the Vatican assisted Raoul Wallenberg in rescuing Jews in Budapest [page 767]. In ‘The Righteous: Unsung Heroes of The Holocaust’ Sir Martin notes that wherever the Italian army was in control in Europe Jews knew they would be saved from the Germans even though Italy and Germany were allies. In June 1943 Germany was outraged when the Pope said publicly, ‘He who makes a distinction between Jews and other men is unfaithful to G-d and in conflict with G-d’s commands.’ [page 311] In October 1943, with the SS in charge of Rome, the SS was about to round up Rome’s Jews. The Vatican and Catholic institutions in Rome opened their doors to hide Jews. ‘As a result of the Church’s rapid rescue efforts. . . fewer than one fifth of Rome’s 5,730 Jews were seized that norning’. The head of the Gestopo in Rome complained to Berlin that the Italians refused to cooperate and actively protected Jews.[page 315]

  • The Furher was, of course, an Austrian Catholic and was never excommunicated, unlike all Catholic communists who were excommunicated on the grounds that communism was incompatible with being Catholic. When the Nazis began to murder disabled people, one German Catholic bishop publicly condemned it and the murder stopped for quite a while before continuing in secret. The main issue the Pope had with Hitler was over Jews who converted to Catholicism. The pope said a Catholic is a Catholic and should not be harmed, while the Nazi racial doctrine said a Jew is always a Jew and can never change.

  • Tess

    Frances will be pious number two

  • Pinchos Woolstone

    I would hope that the present Pope reassesses his position and distances himself from the sentiments expressed in the film.
    Pius XII was a despicable excuse for a religious leader, decent Catholic see him as an embarrassment to their faith

  • Hill

    Didn’t he bless hitler and his gangsters so their belt buckles were etched with “”Got mit uns” a bit like the islamic state and most of the muslims, allahu akbar. No difference. Why the refrain from calling a spade a spade.

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