Book Reviews2 Did Pope Pius XII Help the Jews?

Sr. Margherita Marchione has written several books on Pope Pius XII and World War II.  In this concise book, she defends the sanctity and cause of the Servant of God, Pope Pius XII whom she says should be canonized and also declared a Righteous Gentile. 

Since the early 1960s, many have questioned the actions of Pope Pius XII during World War II.  Some claim he was too silent and that more could’ve been done to save Jews from the Holocaust.  As Marchione shows, this slander originated with the Communists of the Soviet Union and was then picked up on by anti-Catholics and anti-papal Catholics who used it for their own ends. 

She shows that some Jewish leaders and organizations praised Pope Pius during his life and at his death for what he did for Jews throughout Europe by citing their own documents and newspaper reports.  Contrastingly, today several Jewish organizations have questioned if the pope did enough or if he did anything to help the Jews.

Marchione addresses many of the usual questions regarding what Pope Pius did during the War.  She says the pope spoke out many times in various ways through Vatican Radio, L’Osservatore Romano (Vatican newspaper), he protested through his nuncios (ambassadors), and through other Church officials.  Many times his speeches and sermons were understood by the Nazis or the Fascists which led them to become angry and violent. 

However, the pope did not want Jews and others to be harmed if he spoke out.  There is documented proof that when he spoke against the Nazis, many more suffered because of it. Bishops and others discouraged him from speaking out due to the escalation of the situation.  Even when the pope spoke out using neutral, diplomatic language, the Nazis and others understood what he was saying, making them violently angry with the Jews and the Pope.  They considered the pope the “Jewish mouth piece.”

Marchione presents people who have testified to the pope’s assistance either directly or indirectly through nuncios and other priests, religious, and lay people.  Many rescuers of Jews and several Catholic Righteous Gentiles thought the credit should go to Pope Pius XII because they acted on his orders and others’ actions were supported by him.  He was considered a lone voice in Europe that spoke out against the Nazis and their atrocities.  It is documented that he was willing to offer his own life to save others.

Marchione’s short book accomplishes the task of answering the question of “did Pope Pius XII help the Jews?”  Her answers and evidence show that he did.  This book is highly recommended to those interested in Pope Pius XII and World War II.

Sr. Margherita Marcione, Ph.D. is the author of Crusade of Charity:  Pius XII and POWs (2006), Shepherd of Souls: a pictorial life of Pope Pius XII (2002), Consensus and Controversy:  defending Pius XII (2002), Pius XII: architect for peace (1999), Yours is a Precious Witness: memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy (1997) and of other books and articles.

Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.

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