Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who Brought Down Pius XII?

L'Osservatore Director Blames Communists, Church Division

ROME, JUNE 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The director of the Vatican's semi-official daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano contends that the Black Legend surrounding Pope Pius XII and Nazism has two causes: Communist propaganda and division within the Church.

Giovanni Maria Vian affirmed this when he talked with ZENIT about a book that he edited titled "In Difesa di Pio XII: Le Ragioni della Storia" (In Defense of Pius XII: The Reasons of History).

Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, presented the book last week.

Vian uses the expression "leggenda nera" (black legend) in referring to the controversy surrounding Pius XII, which claims the Pope did too little to stop the Nazi horrors against the Jews. He said that at the Pope's death in 1958, he was unanimously praised for his efforts during the Second World War, but since then he has truly been "demonized."

How was such a reversal of image possible, a reversal that took place within the space of a few short years, beginning more or less around 1963?

Vian attributes this campaign against the Pope first of all to Communist propaganda, which intensified during the Cold War.

"The line that the Pope and the Holy See assumed during the years of conflict, averse to totalitarianism but traditionally neutral, was, according to actual deeds, favorable to the anti-Hitler alliance and was characterized by a humanitarian effort without precedent, which saved many human lives," he observed. "This line was, in any case, anti-Communist, and because of this, already during the war, the Pope became the target of Soviet propaganda as being in cahoots with Nazism and its horrors."

Soviet propaganda against Pius XII was powerfully re-launched in Rolf Hochhuth's play "Der Stellvertreter" (The Deputy), performed for the first time in Berlin on Feb. 20, 1963, which presented the Pope's silence as indifference to the extermination of the Jews, Vian said.

Already then, Vian continued, it was noted that the play took up many of the ideas proposed by Mikhail Markovich Scheinmann in his book "Der Vatican im Zweiten Weltkrieg" (The Vatican in the Second World War), first published in Russian by the Historical Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, a propaganda instrument of Communist ideology.

See also:

From Zenit, "New Evidence Says Pius XII Helped Jews"

From Catholic Culture, "L’Osservatore Romano editor: Communists, Church progressives smeared Pius XII’s reputation" and US group finds more evidence Pope Pius XII worked to save Jews"


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