The Ambiguity of A Pope with the Authority of Christ.

Though shalt not place any false Gods before me. God so demanded we acknowledge the monotheism in God, the Church should have been more aware than this, that Nazism was evil, and Hitler its prime motivator. There is this question, and I suggest it is an ambiguous one concerning Pius XII’s role in the midst of The Holocaust. There appears throughout the period what is a seeming neutral stance when the Ministry of Christ should have been vociferous in its condemnation. We have to be clear in this, and if there is any accusation to be countered when we question the lessons of Christ’s role during the days of Jewish Torment and Destruction, then it wasn’t voiced clearly then and it should be stressed more strongly now.

There is a vagueness when the historian, the researcher or even should the Survivor ask of my Church, what was the Church’s role in the crisis? I have to admit that too much went unsaid for a Church whose sanctity is embedded in Charity to the Individual.

“..Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself.”

Too much was not done and far too many Jews died as a consequence of Church – and World – inactivity. For the Church, that seemingly stemmed from an unequivocal position that the Pope stuck rigidly to. But that is where the similarity departs from a Hierarchy of the Church and those many individual Priests, Nuns and even Bishops, acting in consort with their Faith. Individuals who stood firmly against the tide that was sweeping all Jews from this life. Look at the example History records of the disparity between two positions, when the Church calls into stark relief its so called ‘neutral’ (sic) position and when it acts with a clarion call to the Faithful to Recall their Faith, Uphold their Beliefs and Act in accordance with Church Statute.

1) In 1933, on July 20th. a Reich Concordat between Germany and Pope Pius XI and the Vatican was signed.

This was to be a treaty protecting all Catholic rights in Germany, and the operation of Mother Church as its own entity. The Nazi ideal of recognising no Faith above that of Hitler by-passed the role of the Church and regarded all Churches as working deviantly against the will of the Fuhrer.

2) In 1939, on August 24th. Pope Pius XII appeals for peace.

After the crisis in Czechoslovakia, Austria and the Sudetenland, the sabre rattling had not ceased. The escalation was aimed toward the very heart of Catholic influence in Europe: Poland.

3) Russia invaded Finland on November 30th. 1939.

The Vatican was quick to respond, and issued its rebuke to Russia for its aggressive assault upon a Sovereign Nation. There was a particular antipathy between the Russian State and the Vatican, as Communism squarely rounded upon any belief system which did not advocate the form of totalitarianism Stalin represented. It is perhaps to counter the Marxist idea that Church was not truly the panacea of the People, and surely did not recognise in Christ that borne ideal of a Communist spirit.

4) Then we see, that at the negotiating table in December 1939, when Germany proposed Papal mediation of peace with the West.

Meanwhile talk was of shipping all of Germany’s Jews to either Palestine or a rather large Ghetto of Madagascar. Did the Church protest such an inhuman undertaking? It is not resonating through our History that the Church would have seen either measure as other than a German solution to a Jewish Question?

5) On January 22nd. 1940 the Vatican attacks German conduct in Poland.

We know by now that Hitler had unleashed an embryonic Einsatzgruppe to wreak havoc amongst the locals, and the Jews of Poland. What these erstwhile Catholics or Christians thought of their roles in the Murders of fellow Catholics and Christians is not clear. But it is obvious that the indoctrination of an antisemitic hatred has imbibed these roving bands of Murderers to act without conscience!

6) When Hitler attacked France, Holland, Belgium and Luxemberg, May 10th. 1940, the Papacy was quick once more to regale the aggressor Hitler for such an act.

Once again the Vatican stepped into the Political arena and involved itself rightly in the admonition of Hitler for his aggressive stance and warring nature. That same response was largely unheard by the Jews, who stood amidst the greatest carnage ever delivered upon a People!

7) 1940 December Vatican condemns Nazi ‘mercy killings.’

While it is entirely within the remit of any Church or belief system to propose the cessation of ‘the killing of innocents’ the prospect should be lauded when that exact same demand is made of All beings, whatever their Creed, Ability or lack of Psychological coherence!

8) On January 17th. 1941 Bishop Konrad Preysing informs us of what the Pope knows!

We have to realistically assume, that when Konrad Preysing, the Bishop of Berlin, wrote to Pope Pius XII of his own very deep concern over the fate of the Jews of Europe, it is evident that the Pope would surely have already known all that the German Church must have been aware of. Each Catholic or Christian Church, throughout continental Europe, would have to know what existed immediately outside of their own Church doors? While anti-Jewish attacks are breaking out in Romania, and the Jews are under constant threat, the Church communion does not receive the necessary guidance from its own shepherd, which is so demanded of all of us Christians. That which was so demanded by Christ, to love thy neighbour as thy self, required a certain lead from those who propose to lead us in Christ’s way. This lead, that might have at least alleviated the suffering of some of these Jews, and might, given the confronting ability to halt Hitler’s public awareness of the euthanasia programme (or at least the visibly recognisable terms of it) just might have saved more Jews than we managed to eventually save.

“..Your Holiness is certainly informed about ..situation of ..Jews in Germany and ..neighbouring countries.” Bishop Preysing.

9) February 1942 and Bishop Berning confirms the sheer scale of The Final Solution will result in the Extermination of the Jews, ‘entirely’.

“..Transports from Berlin arrive ..Kovno ..doubtful ..anybody ..alive. No ..Minsk ..Riga. Many ..shot. ..intention exterminate ..Jews entirely.” Bishop Berning.

10) In August 1943 Father Benoit sought Pope Pius’s permission to allow Jews out of harm’s way and into Italy.

11) May 1st. 1945 and Cardinal Bertram contends with the holding of a Mass for the Death of a Tyrant, the most despicable man in all of History.

“..hold a solemn requiem mass in memory of der Fuhrer.” Cardinal Bertram.

While we can see such inconsistency within just these simple positions, what was more clear was the unequivocal lack of response to the growing awareness that the destruction of the Jewish People was underway. History has proved that Hitler did not need this inconsistency with the Holy See. For the gain of total victory, this would propose a more drastic resolve in his treatment of the Jews placed upon such a culpable silence. None of this should have prevented the Church from its moral obligation to protect all Peoples, including The Jews of Europe, who in their direst hour of gravest need, required sanctuary. Perhaps, with a more vocal outcry, certainly against any measures we all now consider inhuman, and that were being waged against the Jews throughout the period 1933 – 1945, more Jews would have been saved and would have Survived! There can be no doubting that a more sustained accusation by the Pope or a more determined approach to saving the Jews would have only been as Christ would have expected and even demanded.