Pope Pius XII's Neutrality

1961 Words8 Pages
Is it possible for a Pope to be infallible? When one looks at events, such as the Holocaust, the answer of this question becomes twofold. Were Pope Pius XII’s actions an attempt to save the Catholic Church from persecutions or were they a lack of understanding of Hitler’s ethnic cleansing? Nearly six million Jews were slaughtered during the Holocaust, and when the world became aware of the mass murders that were taking place in Europe, World War II became a moral obligation rather than a fight for power. The Allied powers, Nazi resistance group, and even some Catholic groups invaded Germany to not only save Jews, but also to force the Nazis out of power in Germany. Surprisingly, the Vatican did not assist these resistance groups. Pope Pius XII neglected to help Jewish Holocaust victims and cowardly ignored the moral issue in order to remain neutral, avoid conflict in the war, and avoid the persecution of more Catholics. Since Pope Pius XI was in power, the Church was pro-neutrality. In 1930, Pope Pius XI appointed Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, as Secretary of State of the Holy See. Pacelli assisted Pius XI in writing encyclicals, dealing with diplomatic matters, and handling international affairs (Sanchez 16). In fact, Pius XI even selected Cardinal Pacelli to agree to the Reich Concordat of 1933 — an agreement signed by Cardinal Pacelli and Herr Franz von Papen, the Vice-Chancellor of the German Reich — on his behalf. This agreement allowed the Pope to impose laws on the German clergy and ensure the freedom of German Catholic dioceses, schools, religious Orders, congregations and parishes (Concordat). The German Reich agreed to these terms so long as the papacy encouraged the demolition of the Cathol... ... middle of paper ... ...in his Christmas Message of 1942. In an address to the College of Cardinals in June 1943, Pius XII repeated what he told the Italian ambassador in 1940: “We would like to utter words of fire against such actions (German atrocities) and the only thing restraining up from speaking is the fear of making the plight of the victims even worse” (Phayer 54). His concern was Nazi retaliation against Catholics in the occupied countries. The silence of the Pope was deafening. If Pope Pius XII had readily shared his knowledge regarding the deportations of Jews and death camps with the rest of the world immediately upon learning this information, it is extremely possible that many lives would have been saved. This silent reaction of the papacy began the controversy of the moral obligations of Pope Pius XII and the omissions of any reactions to the atrocities taking place.

More about Pope Pius XII's Neutrality

Open Document