Pius XII’s response to the Nazi extermination of the Jews is a notoriously contentious issue. In publishing Richard Cohen’s positive review of two scholarly books criticizing Eugenio Pacelli ("Pius XII: Not Vindicated," March 9), we expected to receive letters and complaints. Fair-minded people can disagree about Pacelli’s motives, the extent (if any) of his culpability, and the effectiveness of his actions. What we didn’t expect to get was a phone call from Richard Cohen—Richard Cohen, the feisty columnist of the Washington Post—complaining that people were attributing the review to him. What could we say?
For the record, our Richard Cohen is not the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen. Nor is he the Richard Cohen who wrote Housing Trust Funds in New Jersey, or the Richard Cohen who penned The Love Drug: Marching to the Beat of Ecstasy. Nor is he the Richard Cohen who lives on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn or the Richard Cohen who lives just down the street here on Riverside Drive. Our Richard Cohen happens to be an Englishman who recently moved to New York and was for years a contributor to the London Tablet. Even more interesting, his father was once a contender for the United Kingdom’s heavyweight boxing title. We met our Richard Cohen in the summer of 1999, when he called on us to discuss John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope. At that time he was writing a piece on Pius XII for a certain prestigious national magazine. We were impressed with his skepticism about Cornwell’s book and his evident willingness to weigh the evidence on both sides of this difficult question. His response to his critics appears on page 29.
But for the record, he is not the Richard Cohen of Michigan Avenue in Chicago or the Richard Cohen of Sutter Street in San Francisco or the...
Related: John F. Morley reviews Hitler's Pope: Pacelli's Prosecutor