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The Defamation of Pius XII

Foreword Review — Jan / Feb 2001

“Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. …now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom.” This tribute by Albert Einstein succinctly and adamantly defends Pius XII, the WWII Pontiff.

Despite a rash of vilifications of Pius XII, McInerny’s The Defamation of Pius XII proves that the Pontiff actually saved the lives of a million Jews during the holocaust. Pius XII was anything but silent about the murders committed by Hitler as shown in numerous Vatican radio transcripts and speeches given by Pius XII. The Holy Father knew that a complete repudiation of Hitler or the Germans would result in the deaths of many more Jews and Catholics as well as the ultimate failure of any shepherd, the abandonment of his flock.

McInerny critically rights these false attacks with historical fact, dispelling the myth that Vatican correspondence with Hitler meant Nazi sympathy. Pius XII knew that his only hope of influencing Hitler would be through careful correspondence, imploring him to act peaceably. He was at war with Hitler, and his strategy was to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. McInerny shows how Pius saved the lives of nearly one million Jews armed only with faith, and the courage of the world’s moral leader. The leader of Christ’s church, in fact, did more than any other.

The very people who condemn Hitler’s hideous anti-Semitism are ironically the people who propagate the same brand of national hatred, only this time for Catholics. It is this hatred that proved to be the first step leading to such a mass murder.

McInerny draws a startling but accurate conclusion: that many of the very people who condemn Hitler’s atrocities, make up what Pope John Paul II calls The Culture of Death. “We have adopted the worst practices of the Nazis, and others they have never dreamt of… The Pope and the Catholic Church have continued to condemn the notion that there is ‘worthless human life’ [including the lives of the unborn] of which the state can dispose.”

Although many of her critics have not, the Church has remained consistent in her moral teachings, and continues the fight to save the lives of all of the innocent, just as Pope Pius XII did.

Mary Beth Zeleznik