consider the Pope Pius controversy of no general interest, or else they do
not want to publicize it more than necessary.
Below is his actual e-mail to the NYT.
To: "Dept, OP-ED"
Conversation: Pope Bendedict Pushes Pius XII Closer to Sainthood
Subject: FW: Pope Bendedict Pushes Pius XII Closer to Sainthood
I refer to your today's article, "At Rome Synagogue, Pope Pius Tries to
Soothe Tensions With Jews."
While everyone talks about the topic in generalities, I offer below a very
specific historical instance when Pope Pius could have saved the lives of
many thousands of Jews "in a discreet way." I think that my comments below
are specific and timely and newsworthy and I trust you will agree and
How the Vatican decides on who should be regarded as a saint ought to be its
own business, but its continued push to sanctify Pope Pius XII, in spite of
all the evidence of his cowardice during the Nazi period is nothing short of
The Vatican advertises Pius's "heroic virtues," his supposed "powerful
attacks on totalitarianism;" his supposed behind-the-scenes work on behalf
of the Jews during the Nazi persecution, saying that he worked "secretly and
silently" to save Jews; that speaking out more directly would only have
caused more deaths...
In Pope Benedict's speech on the occasion of his visit to a Rome synagogue
on Sunday, January 17, he alluded to the controversy, without mentioning the
name of Pope Pius, merely saying that the Vatican "provided assistance [to
the Jews during the Nazi period], often in a hidden and discreet way." As
reported in Italian newspapers, Rome's Jewish community was not satisfied
with this brief, vague, mention. And all the while, everyone talks about the
topic in mere generalities.
I could give the Vatican one example from personal experience when Pope Pius
XII could have saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives, without endangering
himself, or the Church, but instead chose to wash his hands and keep silent.
I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930. In 1939 Hitler dismembered this
country and we found ourselves living in the independent state of Slovakia
which was run by its fascist party that was closely allied to the Nazis.
This party was led a group of Catholic priests and devout Catholic laymen,
under the leadership of the new country's President, Monsignor Josef Tiso.
In 1940 this government promulgated a series of anti-semitic laws, designed
to gradually choke off Jewish life. Jewish businesses were "aryanized," and
Jews were gradually left without property, without means of livelihood, and
without any civil rights. As far as is known, Pope Pius had no comment about
any of these events.
In 1942, the same Slovak government went further and embarked with great
determination and enthusiasm on the task of completely annihilating Slovak
Jewry, a community of close to 90,000 people. Between March and October of
that year, the Slovak government deported close to 60,000 Jews to German
concentration camps. Of these about 240 survived. Think of it: that makes
four survivors -- fewer than the fingers of one hand -- for each transport
of 1,000 people deported. Where was Pope Pius then? What hidden and discreet
directives did he give to his faithful shepherds in Slovakia?
The remnants of the Jewish community either escaped, or were confined to
Slovak labor camps, or lived in impossibly straightened circumstances. My
family and I were among the latter.
In the summer of 1944, the Slovak underground -- yes, there were actually
those who actively opposed the Fascist government -- started an uprising. In
true Nazi fashion, the Slovak government blamed the totally powerless Jews
for this action and proceeded to round up the pitiful Jewish remnants. This
time my family was also caught in the net and we were deported in September
to concentration camps in Germany. I should also mention that until I
arrived in Bergen-Belsen, the first of six camps that I survived, I barely
even saw a German. All the dirty work in Slovakia was performed by President
Tiso's minions, devout Catholics all. Where was Pope Pius then?
After the War, Monsignor Tiso was tried by the new, free Slovak government
for crimes against humanity, convicted, and executed. All the court heard
from the Vatican at the time was a plea for mercy for its faithful shepherd.
Until the Vatican provides proof to the contrary, we must assume that
basically the Pope's wartime advice to his clergy was to keep their heads
down; don't get involved in politics; the survival of the Church is the only
thing that counts. There is a lot of historical evidence that some Catholic
priests were dismayed by the Pope's advice. Many of them declared privately
that their decision to devote their life to the priesthood was based on the
deeply held belief that it was their duty to help those in need, help the
oppressed, the persecuted. Many of them defied the Vatican's directives by
helping Jews. There were monasteries and convents that sheltered Jews, at
great risk, and some were savagely persecuted. About 2,000 German Catholic
priests wound up in the Dachau concentration camp and many of them lost
their lives there. Some priests were even exterminated in Auschwitz.
The Vatican's decision to declare Pius a saint in effect insults the memory
of these brave priests, in addition to that of the millions of Jews who were
murdered while the Pope kept silent. Any one of the heroic, humane wartime
Catholic priests, nuns, and monks would be more deserving of sainthood than
Pope Pius XII.
-- Peter Kubicek