In an article in the March edition of Pagine ebraiche, the most influential monthly magazine for the Jewish community in Italy, Italian Jewish expert Claudio Vercelli said the historical analysis of the role Pope Pius XII had in the Holocaust must be studied with objectivity and not with a spirit of historical vindictiveness.
History âis not a stick used to beat someone over the head,â Vercelli wrote. He added that the actions by Pius XII must be interpreted outside of todayâs ideological context and analyzed instead in the context of the historical time period in which he lived.
Accusations have been made that Pope Pius XII did not do enough to save Jews who were being killed and persecuted by the Nazis. In his article, Vercelli explained that in addition to facing a âdistressingâ war, the Pope faced âconfrontations between two totalitarian regimesâ that he âfound equally detestable.â
While some historians claim Pius XII did not speak up to defend lives during the Holocaust, Vercelli noted that this âsilenceâ must be understood in light of the fact that his pontificate was marked by the difficult task of guiding the church in the modern era, characterized by a greater role of the people in politics and more stratified societies, of which, he added, "totalitarianism was a powerful variation."
Finally, noted Vercelli, putting together a summary of Pius XII's "divided" role as the most prominent spiritual leader of the Church and the highest civil authority of the Vatican city-state is not a simple task today. âIn addition," he wrote, "every pontificate goes through stages of maturation during and even after its conclusion. The rest, in all honesty, seems to be sterile polemic exercise.â
âWe need to move ourselves to a point where we can see through the lens of honest judgment, not the lens of prejudice," he concluded.