Pius XII’s contested legacy

Commission & Omission

That Pius XII was too silent and did too little to help the Jews during the Holocaust has now been accepted by most historians. Eamon Duffy’s carefully crafted and insightful article (“The Diplomat,” November 4) makes the point once again. I agree wholeheartedly with his conclusion: “in the face of one of the most terrible crimes in human history, impartial diplomacy and agonized calculation do not seem an adequate response from Christ’s vicar on earth.”

Putting aside the issues of personal failings and institutionalized anti-Semitism, the real question now is why Pius XII was so silent and why he did so little to help the Jews, when, as Duffy correctly points out, he loathed the Nazis and was not an anti-Semite.

In her recent celebrated study The Eichmann Trial, Deborah Lipstadt explains how Adolf Eichmann escaped from Europe after the war: “With the help of Catholic officials who had the imprimatur of high—if not the very highest—Vatican offices, Eichmann obtained a Red Cross passport and, using the pseudonym Ricardo Klement, made his way to Buenos Aires.”

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