Pope Pius XII was a holy and reverent pope who did his utmost to help humanity. His papacy was during the time of one of humanity's greatest tragedies, the Holocaust. Perpetrated by Hitler, the Holocaust eventually left millions of people dead, and those remaining, scarred. It was a total failure of peace and justice. Yet during this dark time, a bright light continued to shine. This bright light is the Catholic Church, and the actions of Pope Pius XII. Far from being the fictitious pope who did nothing to stop the Holocaust, Pope Pius XII did everything he could to save countless lives. However, you do not have to take my word for this. The best way to discover how someone has treated a group of people is to find out from that group of people. In other words, the best way to find out what Pope Pius XII did to help the Jews, is to ask the Jews. In the following essay, I will not give a history lesson, so much as I will show the reaction of the Jews to the actions of the Catholic Church during the time of the Holocaust.
Before Pope Pius XII became pope, he was Cardinal Pacelli.
Former Israeli diplomat and now Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide states that Pius XI "had good reason to make Pacelli the architect of his anti-Nazi policy. Of the forty-four speeches which the Nuncio Pacelli had made on German soil between 1917 and 1929, at least forty contained attacks on Nazism or condemnations of Hitler’s doctrines. . . . Pacelli, who never met the Führer, called it ‘neo-Paganism.’ "
As can be seen, much before becoming pope, Pope Pius XII was very strongly against Nazism and Hitler's regime.
It is estimated that the Catholic Church saved about 860,000 lives during the Holocaust, more than all other organizations combined, including the Red Cross. In fact, to honor the lives saved by Pius XII and the Catholic Church, 800,000 trees were planted in Isreal.
Instead of taking my word for how the Pope acted during the Holocaust, let's look at what people said during the time of Pope Pius XII. If you were to select a list of people to speak on behalf of Holocaust victims, those who most represented the Jews at the time, including politician, scientists, etc., it would probably resemble the following list. Take a look at what these prominent people had to say (Special Thanks to Catholic Answers for this information):
"We share the grief of the world over the death of His Holiness Pius XII. . . . During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people passed through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims" (Golda Meir, Israeli representative to the U.N. and future prime minister of Israel).
"With special gratitude we remember all he has done for the persecuted Jews during one of the darkest periods in their entire history” (Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress).
"More than anyone else, we have had the opportunity to appreciate the great kindness, filled with compassion and magnanimity, that the Pope displayed during the terrible years of persecution and terror" (Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, following Rabbi Zolli’s conversion).
Finally, let us conclude with a quotation from Lapide’s record that was not given at the death of Pius XII, but was given after the War by the most well-known Jewish figure of this century, Albert Einstein: "Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty."