It really shouldn't need saying, but the myth of Pius Xll being Hitler's Pope has no substance. At the time, most observers, both Jewish and gentile, were full of praise for the work Pius did in helping Jews to escape from the Nazi regime. People realised that grand-standing - taking the moral high-ground by issuing condemnations from afar - was simply not the best way to counter the evil of Hitler's regime.
It was much later that the myth of complicity, if not collaboration, was propagated, initially by Hochhuth's infamous play, The Deputy, in 1963, and reinvigorated by Cornwell's 1999 book, Hitler's Pope (a book whose central thesis Cornwell disowned a mere 5 years later ('I would now argue, in the light of the debates and evidence following Hitler's Pope, that Pius XII had so little scope of action that it is impossible to judge the motives for his silence during the war, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany')
In the meantime, we have had books like Michael O'Carroll's Greatness Dishonoured, (1980) seeking to set the record straight, drawing extensively on the work of Jewish commentators.
However, it is good to see a new book being published, based on the latest documentary evidence, which again confronts the myth, and seeks to restore Pius' good name.
Gordon Thomas is a Protestant, and his book, The Pope's Jews (reviewed here) is subtitled
A Chartres Surplice - a school and God's own county - The first of the final two coats of arms is that of Chavagnes International College, of whose Scouts I am privileged to be chaplain. Fine and brave Scout...
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