Rychlak also questioned the reliability of Madigan’s sources.
Madigan’s Commentary essay drew on Gerald Steinacher’s book “Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Justice” and David Cymet’s book “History vs. Apologetics: The Holocaust, the Third Reich, and the Catholic Church.”
According to Rychlak, Madigan “confounded” Steinacher’s points and wrongly said that he wrote that Pope Pius XII favored an “extensive amnesty” for war criminals.
“That is not what Steinacher wrote, and nothing could be further from the truth,” Rychlak said.
He cited Pius XII’s repeated public stands in favor of punishing war criminals and his provision of evidence for use against Nazi defendants. The Pope assigned a Jesuit to assist prosecutors of accused war criminals.
Steinacher in fact attributed the advocacy amnesty to a German bishop working in Rome, but this interpretation is a misreading, Rychlak said.
He focused on Steinacher’s examination of two letters between Bishop Alois Hudal, rector of the German-speaking seminary college in Rome, and then-Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.
Bishop Hudal’s May 5, 1949 letter to Msgr. Montini sought amnesty for German soldiers. Steinacher’s book, which incorrectly dates the letter, erroneously reported that the bishop sought pardon for war criminals, Rychlak said.
“Actually, Hudal expressed sympathy for political prisoners who had already spent four years in prison, but he never mentioned nationalities, war criminals, or soldiers,” Rychlak wrote.
Besides these problems in Madigan’s essay, Rychlak objected to its claims regarding the treatment of Jewish children entrusted to Catholic institutions for their safety during the war. Some of the children were taught Christianity and baptized.
It is “nonsense” to say that the Pope refused to let any baptized Jewish child be returned to his or her parents, Rychlak said. He characterized this as a “false charge” based on Cymet’s book, which draws on an incorrect summary of a 1946 document on the topic.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“Madigan should have done his homework before spreading these malicious charges,” Rychlak said.