.- While many recent years have sought to align Pope Pius XII and in fact, the Catholic Church as a whole, with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Holocaust, one Jewish author is seeking to vindicate the late pontiff as a friend of the Jews who helped protect and save many lives. Rabbi David G. Dalin, a professor of History and Political Science at Floridaâs Ave Maria University and author of the new book, The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis says that not only did Pope Pius protect and defend the Jews during World War II, but that there has been a tradition of papal support for Jewish people since at least the fourth century--a claim that flies in the face of much modern speculation.
"It is an abominable slanderâ he said, âto spread blame that belongs to Hitler and the Nazis to a pope who was a friend of the Jews."
He also points out that there is ample evidence that the Pope personally sheltered nearly 5,000 Jews in the Vatican and nearby monasteries and convents during the Nazi occupation of Rome.
Rabbi Dalin notes that Pope Pius was following a tradition laid out by generations of popes before him, dating back to Pope Gregory I (590-604) who issued the decree, Sicut Judaeis, which states that Jews "should have no infringement of their rightsâ¦We forbid to vilify the Jews."
The Holy Father has also been cited as referring to Hitler as "the greatest enemy of Christ and of the Church in modern times."
As to the reasoning behind the accusations, which go so far as to coin Pope Pius âHitlerâs Popeâ, ChronWatch quotes Dalin as saying, "The liberal culture war against tradition-of which the Pope Pius XII controversy is a microcosm-must be recognized for what it is: an assault on the institution of the Catholic Church and traditional religion."
In a recent interview with author Thomas Woods, Rabbi Dalin decried John Cornwellâs recent book, Hitlerâs Pope, as âhistorically false and malicious.â
The myth of Hitlerâs Pope, he says, âpersists despite well-documented historical evidence that Eugenio Pacelli was one of Hitlerâs earliest and most consistent critics and that, as both the Vatican Secretary of State and subsequently as pope, was in fact a friend of the Jewish people who was instrumental in rescuing and sheltering a great many Jews from the clutches of the Nazis.â
He added that, âThe personal testimonies and judgment of Piusâs Jewish contemporaries â including numerous Italian Jewish Holocaust survivors and Jewish military chaplains serving with the Allied forces during the Nazi occupation of Rome â that also bear witness to Pius XIIâs historic role in rescuing and sheltering Jews, should also help restore his historic reputation as a friend of the Jewish people who should receive long-overdue recognition as a ârighteous gentile.â