Missed Opportunities

The Defamation of Pius XII recounts the heroic efforts of Pope Pius XII and members of the European Catholic hierarchy, clergy, religious, and laity to save hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hitler's "final solution." Pius XII began this work before the outbreak of World War II and continued it throughout the war years. It was part of a larger program, initiated by Pope Pius XI, to safeguard the dignity of the human person from "the usurpation of every human and divine right" (New York Times, October 30, 1939) by the totalitarian states of Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin.

The Pope's words form part of the foundation for similar efforts made by the present pontiff against world government and global business. The Catholic Church alone, as Albert Einstein wrote in 1940, repeatedly protested against the policies and actions of the Third Reich. Following the war, the entire world praised Pius XII and the Church for the sacrifices made to save, by some estimates, nearly one million Jews from the death camps.

Ralph McInerny's thesis is that the present-day false accusations against Pius XII are really attacks against the Catholic Church, and a compelling case can be made for this argument. Stalin tried identical tactics immediately after the war, as he worked for control of Eastern Europe. The logic then, as it is now, was to raise questions in the minds of the faithful: If the...

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