A key U.S. diplomat, who served during Pope Pius XII’s pontificate, states in his revealing memoirs that he expects the pontiff to be eventually made a saint. The book offers a first-hand account and convincing evidence that the accusations railed against Pope Pius XII as a “pro-Nazi Pope” are unfounded.
“Inside the Vatican of Pius XII: The Memoir of an American Diplomat During World War II” is the memoir of Harold Tittmann, Jr., who was chief assistant to Myron Taylor, Franklin Roosevelt’s personal representative to the Vatican, between 1940 and 1946.
Tittmann, now deceased, has often been quoted in the case against Pius XII, but his memoir depicts a totally different picture of the wartime Pope, say literary analysts William Doino, Jr. and Joseph Bottum in a book review. Their full book review was published in First Things.
Doino and Bottum state: “These memoirs may be the most important document to be published on Pius XII in over 20 years. And they prove to be, far from an indictment, an overwhelming defense of the Pope and the Catholic Church.”
In his memoirs, the Episcopalian and World War I veteran insisted that Pius XII “detested the Nazi ideology and everything it stood for.” He also credited the Pope for his diplomatic skills, decisive nature and ability “to see both sides of a question.”
The 224-page book reveals that Pope Pius XII’s actions during the war were influenced by the anti-Nazi resistance, which advised him not to make any public statements specifically condemning the Nazis for fear of greater violence against the people.
For example, soon after World War II began, Pope Pius XII had authorized Vatican Radio to condemn Nazi war crimes against Catholics and Jews in Poland, wrote Tittmann. However, “the Polish bishops hastened to notify the Vatican that after each broadcast …, the various local populations suffered ‘terrible’ reprisals,” he said. As a result, such broadcasts were discontinued.
“Personally, I cannot help but feel that the Holy Father chose the better path by not speaking out and thereby saved many lives,” wrote Tittmann. “Who can say what the Nazis would have done in their ruthless furor had they been further inflamed by public denunciations coming from the Holy See?”
Tittmann witnessed to the Vatican network that provided assistance to persecuted Jews and Pius XII’s “personal and secret account,” in a U.S. bank, which he “used exclusively for charitable purposes” during the war.
Tittmann also stated that Allied diplomats followed Cardinal Maglione’s advice and destroyed “all documents that might possibly be of use to the enemy.”
As a result, say the book reviewers, “the many official diplomatic documents, which survive the war years, represent merely a fraction of Pius XII’s activities.”
“I do not for one moment overlook his great spiritual qualities,” wrote Tittmann of Pius XII. “Whether near him or away from him, one was always conscious of them. … Very possibly the future will rate him a saint.”
“Inside the Vatican of Pius XII: The Memoir of an American Diplomat During World War II” is priced at $13.95.