On September 7 it was announced that never-before-seen documents have been recently discovered in the archives of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. These documents indicate that, during the nine-month Nazi occupation of Rome in 1943 and 1944, some 4,300 people — 3,200 of whom had names that were Jewish in origin — were sheltered and protected in 155 Catholic convents and monasteries in the city. This important discovery once again illustrates the truth of Albert Einstein’s words to Time Magazine in 1940. There, the acclaimed physicist stated that “Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth.”
The New York Times, which seems obsessed with advancing the old canard that Pius XII did nothing to help Jews during the war, ran an article on September 8 that accused the Holy Father of remaining “publicly silent” in the face of Nazi efforts to deport and exterminate the Jews of Rome during the occupation. Aside from the fact that it’s hard to imagine that such a pervasive and monumental effort by priests and religious to protect Jews was undertaken without the direct involvement and support of the Vatican, the current editors of the Times are asking us to believe something which directly contradicts the declarations of their predecessors in 1941 and 1942.
Perhaps they have forgotten what their predecessors said in their Christmas editorials of those two years. There, they extolled Pope Pius XII for his courage and for his prudential and consistent defense of the Jews. In 1942 they wrote: “The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas. … He is about the only ruler left on the continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all.”
Those words were written in reference to Pius’ Christmas message that December. Here, it’s important (and enlightening) to consider the response the Nazis had to that very same message. This is how the Gestapo saw it: “In a manner never known before … the Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order. It is true, the Pope does not refer to the National Socialists in Germany by name, but his speech is one long attack on everything we stand for. … Here he is clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews.”
Thus, the overwhelmingly positive response of prominent Jews of the time to the words and actions of Pius should come as no surprise to anyone — least of all the editors of the New York Times. During the War and for many years thereafter, Pius was praised by highly respected Jewish leaders from all over the world: among them Rabbi Joachim Prinz, the president of the American Jewish Congress; Israel Herzog, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem; and Israel Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, who became a Catholic after the war and who took Pius’ baptismal name (Eugenio) as his own. Relative to this most recent discovery, which was revealed on September 7, Rabbi William Rosenblum of New York publicly thanked Pius after the war for hiding “thousands of Jewish victims of Nazism and Fascism in the monasteries and convents of various Catholic orders.”
The current editors of our nation’s so-called “newspaper of record” need to spend a bit more time consulting the historical record left by their esteemed predecessors of the World War II years. Hopefully that will provide them with an effective cure for their serious and chronic case of amnesia regarding Pope Pius XII.