By Fr. George Welzbacher
June 5, 2011
In his address, much cheered and applauded, to our national Congress on May 23rd, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hit the nail on the head when he insisted that one Holocaust, thank you, was quite enough, and that Israel could never withdraw to the indefensible borders behind which it led a precarious existence up until the Six Days War of 1967, especially given that one of its neighbors (Hamas-controlled Gaza, now coalescing with the West Bank) is officially committed to Israel's annihilation, while yet others deny to this day a Jewish state's right to exist. A Hamas member of Parliament, Yunis al-Astal, recently told Al-Aksa TV that he was looking forward to a "great massacre" of the Jews. In which context one might recall that during the years of the Nazi pursuit of "The Final Solution" the Muslim Grand Mufti of Jerusalem gave Hitler's genocidal project his whole-hearted support. Then as now authoritative voices within the Muslim umma have been anything but sympathetic to the Jews.
A sin almost as grave as the Grand Mufti's well documented promotion of the mass murder of Jews has now for many years been attributed by enemies of the Catholic Church to Pope Pius XII, namely that he was an accomplice of sorts, albeit passive rather than active, in Hitler's ghastly enterprise. This outrageous travesty of the truth was initially given wings by the Soviet Union's propaganda machine in the final months of World War II and during the war's immediate aftermath, though at the time with little success. It was difficult, after all, to label as anti-Semitic a pope before whom the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra presented a special concert as an expression of gratitude for the Pontiff's having authorized, during the German occupation of much of Italy, the sheltering of Jews in the Vatican itself, in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, and in practically every convent and monastery in German-controlled Italy, a courageous intervention that would play a role in the subsequent conversion of the chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, who on becoming a Roman Catholic after the Allied liberation of Rome took as his own baptismal name Pope Pius' baptismal name, Eugenio. Yet just five years after Pope Pius' death in 1958, a death which had elicited many a public tribute from Jewish celebrities (including Golda Mair, Israel's Foreign Minister at the time and subsequently its Prime Minister), the German playwright Rolf Hochhuth launched in 1963 a savage attack on Pope Pius XII encapsulated in the play The Deputy, reviving the Soviet accusation that Pius had stood by, mutely acquiescent, as millions of Jews were being slaughtered. All this despite the fact that it was Pius XII, who, in his radio address to the world on Christmas Eve, 1942, first made public the appalling fact that at that very moment hundreds of thousands of human beings were being murdered or were being condemned in internment camps to a lingering form of near-death for no reason other than their race (stirpe was the Italian word the Pontiff used). Everybody knew who it was of whom he was speaking. Back then The New York Times hailed the papal testimony as that of "a lonely voice" in the darkness of conquered Europe, speaking out boldly in the name of justice and humanity.
Nevertheless in the 1960's and early 70's the Hochhut play met with great success. It was translated into several major languages and was produced in theatres all over the western world, though some years later, when Hochhut came out with yet another play, this time denouncing as a war criminal the much beloved figure of Winston, Churchill, that was "a bridge too far." The German playwright's reputation foundered.
But seizing the torch from Hochhut's hand, many others joined in the relentless campaign of character assassination of Pope Pius. "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered" was now the way to go. Reassuringly there were persuasive voices - persuasive at least for those who are not consumed with hatred of the Catholic Church - that rose in defense of the pope, and some of those voices were the voices of distinguished Jews. May I share with you here a short memorandum that appeared in the May-June issue, 2010, of the journal First Things. It was written by the journal's editor at the time, Joseph Bottum.
* * * * *Article from First Things
May-June issue, 2010
The New York Times is amused by the fact that Pope Pius XII has at least one Jewish defender. He is Mr. Gary Krupp, a retired medical-equipment dealer and the president and cofounder of the Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF), a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve relations among different religions. In 2000, Pope John Paul II honored Krupp for his charitable efforts by naming him a Knights commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great.
In the last few years, Mr. Krupp has devoted himself to defending the reputation of Pope Pius XII. Mr. Krupp used to accept the common allegations against Pius XII, but after taking the time to study the evidence, he concluded that the wartime pope has gotten a bad rap. The Pave the Way Foundation's website, www.ptwf.org, contains its research on the wartime pope and includes many primary-source documents.
[New York Times] Reporter Paul Vitello portrays Krupp as an eccentric and loose cannon whose work is dismissed by mainstream scholars. In fact, in the last decade, MANY new books have been published in Europe that DEFEND Pius XII. Unfortunately, the work of these scholars in Italy, Germany, and France is largely unknown in the United States (and apparently to the staff of the New York Times).
As for Gary Krupp, is he really the only Jew who has a favorable opinion of Pius XII? Since the late 1990's, a number of Jewish scholars and writers have DEFENDED the pope's reputation. They include Professor William D. Rubenstein, who tore apart John Cornwell's biased and unreliable Hitler's Pope in these pages; our friend Rabbi David Dalin, who wrote The Myth of Hitler's Pope (2002); Prof. Jacques Adler of Australia; Michael Tagliacozzo (who escaped the Nazi roundups of Jews in Rome and now lives in Israel); Serge Klarsfeld, the Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter; Bernard Henri -Lévy, the French philosopher and Jewish atheist; and Great Britain's Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill and a world-renowned authority on the Holocaust.
Earlier Jewish authors who defended Pius XII include: Leon Poliakov; Pinchas Lapide, the author of Three Popes and the Jews (1967); Jenö Levai, who testified as an expert witness at the trial of Adolf Eichmann and then wrote the book Hungarian Jewry and the Papacy: Pope Pius XII Did NOT Remain Silent (1968); and David Herstig, the author of the German-language book Die Rettung (The Rescue, 1967). In 1963, when German playwright Rolf Hochhuth first turned Pius XII into a villain with The Deputy, Dr. Joseph L. Licthen, the late interfaith director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote a persuasive monograph, "A Question of Judgment: Pope Pius XII and the Jews," which can be found in the internet. Clearly, Gary Krupp has company.
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We wish to congratulate Mary Satnik and Paul John Morris on receiving their First Holy Communion on May 22 here at the Church of St. John.
We wish to welcome to our parish family Joseph Dante Mirabella, who was baptized here at St. John's on May 29th.
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