Historian says Roman Catholic leader once targeted by Hitler
(WorldNetDaily, 8/30/2001) — For decades, critics have expressed resentment and outrage over reports that Pope Pius XII, who led the Catholic Church during World War II, did little or nothing to help Jews escape the terror of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.
However, in a new book, “Pius XII, Pope of the Jews,” Italian historian Andrea Tornielli claims that in reality Hitler ordered the destruction of the Vatican and the deportation of Pius XII to Liechtenstein in 1943, in reprisal for the Pontiff’s reported assistance to Jews and for the Church’s opposition to the Nazi regime.
According to the Zenit, the Vatican’s news organization, Tornielle explains in his book — which has just gone on sale in Italy — that Hitler was livid after the signing of the armistice between the Italian Badoglio government and the Allies on Sept. 8, 1943, and ordered the SS to destroy the Holy See with “blood and fire.”
Former Italian Minister Giulio Andreotti defended the validity of Tornielli’s thesis last week when he addressed the meeting of the Catholic movement, Communion and Liberation, Zenit said.
Much of the criticism leveled against Pius XII was that he was too passive in the face of Nazism during World War II, but Zenit reported that Andreotti defended the pope.
“The hostility against Pope Pacelli was not due to his weakness against Nazism, but to his rejection of Communism,” he said to the gathering in Rimini, Italy, Zenit reported.
The Italian historian’s arguments had already been mentioned and noted in recent years by other historians and scholars who quoted testimonies and documents from the time of Nazi occupation, said Zenit.
Among Pius XII’s defenders is Antonio Gaspari, author of “The Jews, Pius XII, and the Black Legend,” “which offers testimonies of Jews in Rome who were saved from the Nazi-Fascist persecution thanks to the help of men and women of the Church, as requested by Pius XII himself,” said the Vatican news agency.
Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII, died Oct. 9, 1958, in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, after a 19-year pontificate. The process of beatifying him — one of the first requirements leading to his proclamation as a saint — is already underway, Vatican officials say, but is opposed by Jewish critics and some current members of the Israeli government.
Pius XII’s actions helped save more than 800,000 Jewish lives, either directly or indirectly, according to Jewish researcher Pinchas Lapide, Zenit reported.
Furthermore, the news agency said, the pontiff was actively involved in the German resistance’s effort to remove Hitler, as evidenced in British Foreign Office documents of the time.