Wartime letter suggests Pope Pius XII knew "detailed information" about holocaust

Originally published at: Wartime letter suggests Pope Pius XII knew "detailed information" about holocaust | Boing Boing


I’ve never heard him described as anything but a fascist sympathiser and anti-Semite. I wasn’t aware there was any controversy about him.


As a kid in a 2 room catholic school, we were frequently presented with material that was in comic format a lot of it showing PP12 helping to save little Jewish kids. Usual it had some kind of denial of his malfeasance which seemed odd to us kids. We thought it was a given that anyone who could help would of course be saving kids. We were the same age as the cartoon kids were, he would save us wouldn’t he?
. oppsy, lied to again!


Priests (and Popes) may begin their religious life for altruistic reasons. But eventually they all become politicians who make compromises to retain power and influence. They learn to look the other way when it suits their particular situation.

We should all know by now to be skeptical when these religious figures of all denominations try to convince us that they have the moral high ground. The more power they have, the more their desire to retain that power, no matter what moral contortions they have to make to justify their actions to themselves and their followers.


Historians agree: Pius was not a loud man.


Not particularly helpful to paint them all with the same broadbrush. Plenty retain their desire to help people, and they’re not all either power hungry assholes or predators.


The first treaty Nazi Germany ever signed was with the Vatican, ceding control of education to the Church in exchange for their looking the other way with regards to the Holocaust. The Enablement Act of 1933 (which gave the Chancellor, ie Hitler, the power to make law essentially by fiat) was passed only with the support of the Catholic Centre Party. Hitler’s birthday was celebrated from the pulpit right up to the end of the war.

But they didn’t know anything about anything nasty, no sir, not them.


Pope Pius XII denounced Fascism in an encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno - Wikipedia.


I guess the Vatican wasn’t exactly in a position to fight the Axis forces, what with being a tiny city-state nested within the capital of Mussolini’s Italy. So agreeing to some kind of treaty was probably inevitable even if the specifics were not.


We live in Switzerland and my grandmother told me that people knew about the holocaust during WW2. It’s quite inconceivable that the pope knew less than her.


I’m sorry, but the first sentence of your post is completely bollocks.
The second sentence is technically correct, but somewhat misleading.
Number three is spot on.

The Konkordat is actually still in power today.
Anyone interested in what it’s about, the Jimbopedia entry gives a good rundown and has the full text:


The Konkordat was signed before there even was an “Axis” and all about securing the Roman Catholic Church’s position within the German state. There already were treaties in place along similar lines with Prussia and Bavaria. The church was interested in expanding this to the whole country. Talks about this started well before Hitler became chancellor.

The 1929 treaty with Mussolini made the Vatican into a sovereign state.


But eventually came to friendly relations with the fascist state. Early Mussolini miscalculated his interactions with religion but later recalibrated.


I take your point, but I’m going to bet that I have at least as much direct experience with Catholicism and priests as you do. I’m a cradle Catholic with 12 years in the parochial school system and with many friends still attending and faithful to the church to this day.

Obviously, not every priest ignores his vows and there are many who do good work in their parishes. I think the current Pope is doing what he can to oppose the entrenched problems. But there are NONE who don’t understand that the church to this day shelters and protects abusers. And there are NONE who make it further into the hierarchy who don’t understand that the RCC still acts contrary to its own avowed principles to further and protect its own power, money, and influence. Pope Pius XII made a calculated political decision in his time for that very reason.

It’s an institutional problem across not just the Catholic Church, but also in other religious denominations. Hypocrisy is non-denominational, but the article concerns the RCC and that is their history.


Yet, that was what you said - all. I was reacting to what you said, not to what you thought in your head. I can only comment on your actual words.

If you say that there are seriously institutional problems within the church that needs to be corrected, then I totally agree with that - and as you note, it’s true of many organizations (not just religious). I do not agree that just being a Catholic priest is enough to assume that they are a predator. That’s just untrue, which you say you agree with. Then maybe let’s turn down the hyperbolic language. I think this is especially important, since there is in fact a pretty long history in the US of anti-Catholic sentiment for the exactly wrong reasons (see, for example the Know-nothings of the 19th century, among other anti-Catholic/immigrant realities).

Yes, I’m aware, but again, I was responding to your insistence that ALL CATHOLIC priests are the problem, rather than the institution that protects those that are predators.


I guess that I was unclear. I was speaking of the church as an institution, not every individual priest. I never said that every priest is a predator. The point remains however, that every priest knew that the RCC protected predators as a matter of institutional policy, just as every priest knows that there has been an anti-semitic undercurrent in Catholicism which influenced Pope Pius XII in how he reacted to the spread of fascism before and during WW2.

To further clarify, every priest becomes a member of the hierarchy, and as a member they are aware of the institutional actions and attitudes. It is in that sense that I referred to them as ‘politicians’ who either speak up or stay quiet to protect the church. Once they move up the ladder as Monsignors and above, they are firmly in the real sense a politician.

As for anti-Catholic sentiment, I’m old enough to remember that when JFK ran for President in 1960, there were many people who were openly convinced that if he won, the Pope would be really running the Oval Office. A lot of the anti-Catholic sentiment was directly tied to the anti-immigrant current (esp. Irish, Italian, Polish) which has always been present. In my own family, my father was a cradle Catholic and my mother was a Methodist who converted when they married. Her largely German origin family was decidedly NOT happy about it.


And then, after the Fascists had been defeated, guess who helped the Nazis escape to South America and hid them when they arrived? That’s right! The Catholic Church.


Shaun Ryder was right.

The song caused mild controversy when released because of its assertion that Pope Pius XII collaborated with the Nazis: "Oh Pope he got the Nazis, To clean up their messes, In exchange for gold and paintings, he gave them new addresses ".[3]


(excerpt) The encyclical condemned what it perceived as Italian fascism’s “pagan worship of the State” (statolatry) and “revolution which snatches the young from the Church and from Jesus Christ

Sure. Of course. Mussolini was dipping into PPXII’s rice bowl and progressively encroaching on his territory.

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