- Hitler's Pope
"Hitler's Pope" is a book published in 1999 by the British journalist and author John Cornwell. It examines the actions of
Pope Pius XIIduring the Nazi era and explores the charge that he assisted in the legitimization of Hitler's Nazi regime in Germany through the pursuit of a Reichskonkordatin 1933. It is critical of his conduct during the Second World War. The author has been praised for attempting to bring into the open the debate on the Catholic Church's relationship with the Nazis, but also accused of making unsubstantiated claims and ignoring positive evidence. Some commentators have characterized the book as having since been "debunked". [Anger, Matthew [http://www.ignatius.com/Magazines/HPRweb/bk_dalin.htm The Rabbi and the Pope] Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 2008 Ignatius Press] The author, himself, has since retracted his accusations in substantial part [Dalin, David [http://books.google.com/books?id=qAmKnonoAB0C&pg=PA138&dq The Myth of Hitler’s Pope:How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis] , p. 138, Regnery Publishing 2005] [Rychlak, Ronald J. and Michael Novak[http://books.google.com/books?id=LvlmAAAAMAAJ&q=&pgis=1 Righteous Gentiles] , p. xiii, Spence Pub. Co., 2005] [Johnson, Daniel [http://www.nysun.com/arts/robes-of-the-vicar/15450/ The Robes of the Vicar] New York Sun June 15, 2005] , saying that it is "impossible to judge the motives" of the Pope. [" [http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_PQSTTPS The Papacy] ", "The Economist", December 9, 2004, p. 82-83.] [John Cornwell, "The Pontiff in Winter" (2004), p. 193.]
Cornwell, like other authors, made use of the Vatican archives to research the conduct of Eugenio Pacelli, both as
Nuncioto Germanyand as Pope. He claims that he intended his book as a defense of Pius XII but that "nearing the end of my research… The material I had gathered, taking the more extensive view of Pacelli's life, amounted not to an exoneration but to a wider indictment" [John Cornwell, "Hitler's Pope" (1999), p. viii.] This statement about his intentions has been questioned by the Catholic League, a Roman Catholic anti-defamation group.http://www.catholicleague.org/research/corn.htm] Cornwell, relying on what he claimed was exclusive access to Vatican and Jesuit archives (a claim which has not been corroborated by the Vatican), argues that through a 1933 Concordat with Germany, his alleged anti-Semitic tendencies early on, and his drive to promote papal absolutism inexorably led him to collaboration with fascist leaders. Thus, according to Cornwell, Pope Pius XII facilitated the dictator's rise and, ultimately, the Holocaust.
Criticism of Cornwell's work
Ken Woodward, writing in "
Newsweek", stated that "Hitler's Pope" has "errors of fact and ignorance of context [that] appear on almost every page." [Kenneth L. Woodward, " [http://www.newsweek.com/id/89597/output/print The Case Against Pius XII - A New Biography Is Scalding - And Deeply Flawed] ", "Newsweek", September 27, 1999.] The major response to "Hitler's Pope" came from Mississippi law professor Ronald J. Rychlakin his 2000 book on the subject, "Hitler, the War, and the Pope". [Ronald Rychlak, " [http://home.olemiss.edu/~rrychlak/web20061010/cornwell-errors.htm Cornwell's Errors: Reviewing Hitler's Pope] .] In it, Rychlak's original research exposed many facts, corrects Cornwell, and adds contextual perspectives that counter those presented in "Hitler's Pope". Rychlak was acknowledged by the Vatican to have been given special access to their closed archives for his research; however, the "exclusive access" that Cornwell claims to have gotten to Vatican and Jesuit archives is not corroborated. The Vatican denies Cornwell's assertion that he received any special access. The "time bomb" letter Cornwell claimed was lying in the Vatican archives since 1919 was actually a letter written not by the future Pope but by his assistant, and was fully published and discussed in "Germany and the Holy See: Pacelli's Nunciature between the Great War and the Weimar Republic", by Emma Fattorini (1992).Fact|date=August 2008 Cornwell attributes to this letter Pius' "stereotypical anti-Semitic contempt."Fact|date=August 2008 Rychlak also questioned the veracity of Cornwell's statements about his faith. Furthermore, Rychlak exposed Cornwell's front cover photographic manipulation and false caption stating the photo (suggesting Pius was visiting Hitler) was from 1939. [Ron Rychlak, " [http://home.olemiss.edu/~rrychlak/web20061010/morphing.htm The Morphing of a Book Cover ] ".] Counter to Cornwell's suggestion, Pius never met with Hitler.
Eventually the historian and rabbi
David G. Dalin's 2005 book " The Myth of Hitler's Pope" borrowed Rychlak's research to counter Cornwell also, but refocuses his readers toward Muslims, accusing Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Muftiof Jerusalemof being "Hitler’s Mufti". [Rabbi David Dalin, " [http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=19064 Hitler's Mufti, Not Hitler's Pope] ","FrontPageMagazine.com", August 9, 2005.]
In "The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis" published in 2005, Dalin suggests that "
Yad Vashem" should honor Pope Pius XII as a " Righteous Gentile," concluding that " [t] he anti-papal polemics of ex-seminarians like Garry Wills and John Cornwell (author of "Hitler’s Pope"), of ex-priests like James Carroll, and or other lapsed or angry liberal Catholics exploit the tragedy of the Jewish people during the Holocaust to foster their own political agenda of forcing changes on the Catholic Church today." Martin Gilbertpraised Pope Pius XII's efforts on behalf of the Jews throughout World War II. According to Miriam Zolli, the Catholic daughter of Israel Zolli later Eugenio Maria Zolli after he became a catholic, World War II Chief Rabbiof Rome, Cornwell does not consider the context of what he calls Pius XII's silence in the face of Nazismand anti-semitism. In a 1998 interview with Inside the Vatican, she stated, "Pacelli and my father were tragic figures in a world where every moral reference point had been lost. An abyss of evil had opened up, but ordinary people did not believe it and the great ones — Roosevelt, Stalin, de Gaulle — were silent. Pius XII had understood that Hitler would not descend to pacts with anyone, that his madness was of the type that could explode in any direction, in the massacre of German Catholics or in the bombing of Rome, and he acted in the light of this knowledge. The Pope was like a person constrained to move in solitude among the lunatics of an insane asylum. He did what he could. His silence must be read in that context, as an act of prudence, not of cowardice." [ Miriam Zolli, " [http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=1067 My Father Never Stopped Being a Jew] ", "Inside the Vatican", February, 1999.]
Recent comments of retraction
According a 2004 article in the
The Economist, Cornwell's historical work has not always been "fair-minded" and "Hitler's Pope" specifically "lacked balance". The article goes on to state that Cornwell, "chastened", had admitted as much himself, in a later work, "The Pontiff in Winter", citing the following quote as evidence:
One commentator asked in light of a substantial retraction: "So why has Mr. Cornwell not withdrawn his book, or at least altered its hateful title?" [Johnson, Daniel [http://www.nysun.com/arts/robes-of-the-vicar/15450/ The Robes of the Vicar] New York Sun June 15, 2005]
* Jimmy Akin, " [http://www.catholic.com/library/HOW_Pius_XII_PROTECTED_JEWS.asp How Pius XII Protected Jews] ". Catholic Answers (2005).
* Anonymous, "Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich". Pelican Pub Co (February 2003). ISBN 1-58980-137-7. (originally published in 1941)
* Joseph Bottum, "The Pius War: Responses to Critics of Pius XII". Lexington Books (2004). ISBN 0-7391-0906-5
* James Carroll: "Constantine’s Sword". Houghton Mifflin (2002). ISBN 0-618-21908-0
* John Cornwell, "Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII". Viking (1999). ISBN 0-670-87620-8
* David G. Dalin, "The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis". Regnery (2005). ISBN 0-89526-034-4.
Michael F. Feldkamp, "Goldhagens unwillige Kirche. Alte und neue Fälschungen über Kirche und Papst während der NS-Herrschaft". München (2003). ISBN 3-7892-8127-1
Guenter Lewy, "The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany". Da Capo Press (2000). ISBN 0-306-80931-1
* Margherita Marchione, "Pope Pius XII: Architect for Peace". Paulist Press (2000). ISBN 0-8091-3912-X
* Ronald J. Rychlak, "Hitler, the War, and the Pope". Our Sunday Visitor (2000). ISBN 0-87973-217-2
* Ronald J. Rychlak, "Righteous Gentiles". Spence Publishing (2005). ISBN 1-890626-60-0
* Ronald J. Rychlak, " [http://pius-xii.com/ Hitler, Pope Pius XII, The Jews, The Catholics - the Truth] "
* Ronald J. Rychlak, " [http://www.catholicleague.org/research/60minutes.htm "60 Minutes" on Pius XII] "
* Karl Scholder, "The Churches and the Third Reich". London (1987).
* Garry Wills: "Papal Sin". Bantam Dell (2001). ISBN 0-385-49411-4
Eugenio Zolli, "Before the Dawn". Roman Catholic Books (1997). ISBN 0-912141-46-8
* Susan Zuccotti, "". New Haven/London: Yale University Press (2000). ISBN 0-300-08487-0
* [http://www.tenc.net/vatican/hitlersp.htm John Cornwell's abridged version of "Hitler's Pope" written for Vanity Fair] .
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