Worst Catholic Saint

I would also not have like to be Pius Xii’s position, but Goldhagen’s book is so full of factual errors than it is no worth the paper it is printed on. Cowardice, perhaps, but in many cases he was asked by the would-be victims themselves (particularly Dutch Bishops) no to protest too loudly.

As an interesting (though depressing) fact 90% of European Jews were killed except in Italy were 90% were saved. Might say something 'bout good 'ol Pius.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, Rodrigo, glad to have you with us.

When you start a thread, it’s helpful to others if you provide a link to the Column that you are commenting on. In this case, I assume, it’s Who was the worst Catholic saint?

Well Cecil’s out there again. For a guy (or whoever Cecil is or are) who never makles mistakes he gets very close to sillyness and rampant bias.

This column re-visits his previous mistake. Let’s examine:

a) His starts by saying "his reputation took a hit in 1963 with the appearance of Rolf Hochhuth’s play Der Stellvertreter (“The Deputy”). " Of all people I didn’t think Cecil would take a PLAY as historical fact, especially from a guy with intent to slander.

b) Aside from that he mentions no prove except Cromwell’s book. LEt’s examine that.
i)As Kenneth L. Woodward rightly stated in his review of the book in the September 27, 1999, issue of Newsweek: “Errors of fact and ignorance of context appear on almost every page.” (Newsweek ain’t particularly Catholic)

ii)On the dust jacket of the English edition of the book is a picture of the then-Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, apostolic nuncio at Berlin, leaving a German government building saluted by two soldiers. The photograph is quite tendentious, but what is worse is the caption: “Cover photograph shows Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, leaving the presidential palace in Berlin, March 1939.” This caption is not only totally wrong but seriously misleading. Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, and thus the caption suggests that Pacelli paid a visit in 1939 to a high-ranking Nazi official and was saluted by two Nazi soldiers. However, Pacelli left Germany in 1929 and never returned. He was elected pope on March 2, 1939, and therefore could not be in Berlin during that period. THe photogrpah actually show Pacelli coming out of a building after talking to the President of Germany during Wiemar Republic. It’s so wrong that the publisher had to paid a fine a re-label the photo in Europe.

iii) Among the many scholarly works that Cornwell should have consulted is that of the Hungarian Jewish author Jeno Levai’s Hungarian Jewry and the Papacy. [1] Levai used the Significant subtitle “Pope Pius XII did not remain silent”

iv) In his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus (1939), Pius XII condemned the aggression against small countries by stronger nations, which, as everybody understood, could refer only to the aggression of Russia against Finland and that of Nazi Germany against Poland. The Nazis forbade publication of this encyclical in German. Cornwell considers the encyclical to be wishy-washy and insignificant. If so, why did the Allies drop by plane 88,000 copies of it over Germany? Cornwell did not mention these facts at first, and when it was quoted against him, he tried to belittle the events, since they do not fit his thesis that Pius XII was “Hitler’s pope.”

v)Cornwell also never asked himself why the projected roundup of 8,000 Roman Jews was suddenly stopped after about 1,000 were rounded up by Hitler’s troops in October 1943. He misrepresents the interview that occurred immediately afterwards between Secretary of State Maglione and the German Ambassador von Weizsacker, who was called to the Vatican upon Pius XII’s urgent request. Weizsacker, afraid that a formal protest made by the Holy See would enrage Hitler, gave an overly bland impression of the attitude of the Holy See. This became patently clear in the Nuremberg trials, which Cornwell ignores completely.

vi) The Nazis ferociously attacked Pius XII for what he said during his famous speech on Christmas 1942. They went on record stating: “Here he [the pope] condemns everything we stand for and he has made himself a mouth-piece of the Jewish warmongers.” When Pius XII spoke in his allocution about “hundreds of thousands” of victims, there was no evidence at that time that the number of victims ran, or was going to run, into the millions. Cornwell accuses the pope of downgrading the Holocaust; however, he does not take into account what was known at that time.

vii) The encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (“With burning anxiety”) was one of the strongest condemnations of a national regime that the Holy See had ever published. In fact, the Vatican took pains to ensure that Nazi officials could not prohibit its distribution. Unlike most encyclicals, which are written in Latin, Mit brennender Sorge was written in German. It was then smuggled into Germany, secretly distributed, and read at the Masses on Palm Sunday, March 14,1937. Mit brennender Sorge condemned not only the persecution of the Church in Germany but also the neopaganism of Nazi theories, the idolizing of the state, and the use of race and bloodlines to judge human value. It declared:

Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things - whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.

One statement in particular is an evident swipe at Hitler and Nazism:

None but superficial minds could stumble into concepts of a national God, of a national religion; or attempt to lock within the frontiers of a single people, within the narrow limits of a single race, God, the Creator of the universe, King and Legislator of all nations before whose immensity they are “as a drop of a bucket” (Isaiah 11:15).

viii) As to the passage ". . . a gang of young women, of dubious appearance, Jews like all the rest of them, hanging around in all the offices with lecherous demeanor and suggestive smiles. The boss of this female rabble was Levien’s mistress, a young Russian woman, a Jew and a divorcée, who was in charge. . . . This Levien is a young man, of about thirty or thirty–five, also Russian and a Jew. Pale, dirty, with drugged eyes, hoarse voice, vulgar, repulsive, with a face that is both intelligent and sly.

To Cornwell and Goldhagen, these words (taken from Schioppa’s report to his superior, Pacelli) prove that Pacelli was an anti–Semite.

In truth, however, this translation is grossly distorted. It uses pejorative words, instead of neutral ones that are more faithful to the original Italian. For instance, the most damning phrase in the translation, “Jews like all the rest of them,” turns out to be a distorted, inaccurate translation of the Italian phrase i primi. The literal translation would be “the first ones” or “the ones just mentioned.” (Therefore Goldhagen’s statement that “the Communist revolutionaries, Pacelli averred, were ‘all’ Jews” is wrong. The word “all” appears only in the Cornwell/Goldhagen mistranslation.) Similarly, the Italian word schiera is translated by Cornwell as “gang” instead of “group,” which would be more appropriate. Additionally, the Italian gruppo femminile should be translated as “female group,” not “female rabble.” Finally, the Italian occhi scialbi should be translated as pale (asky, livid) eyes, not “drugged eyes.”

This letter was published in its original Italian in 1992. Church historian John Conway—an Anglican and a distinguished scholar—reviewed the book in which it was included for the Catholic Historical Review. Neither he, nor anyone else at that time, suggested that the letter was anti–Semitic. When the entire letter is read in an accurate translation, it is not anti–Semitic. The tone of anti–Semitism is introduced only by Cornwell’s dubious translation.
3) ALbert Eintein called him, during the war "Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.” (Time Magazine, December 23, 1940). (Maybe Time was run by the Jesuits)
4)The Jewish community has not been silent about what Pius XII did for his persecuted brethren. In October 1945, the World Jewish Congress made a financial gift to the Vatican in recognition of the work the Holy See performed in rescuing Jews from Fascist and Nazi persecutions. Dr. Israel Goldstein of the same World Jewish Congress said, on the occasion of Pius XII’s death, “The Jewish community told me of their deep appreciation of the policy which had by the pontiff for the Vatican during the period of the Nazi-Fascist regime to give shelter and protection to the Jews, whenever possible.
4) Although Lapide’s number’s may be wrong, why would an Israeli Foreign Minister purposely inflate the number…was he a crypto-catholic?

  1. Rome’s chief Rabbi became a Catholic after the war and took Puis XII’s name Eugenio as his Christian name.

  2. The New York Times in its Christmas editorials of 1941 and 1942 praised Pius XII for his moral leadership as a “lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent” and for, among other things, assailing “the violent occupation of territory, and the exile and persecution of human beings, for no other reason than race.”

7)Golda Meir, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, was the first of the delegates to react to the news of Pope Pius XII’s death. She sent an eloquent message: “We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. In a generation afflicted by wars and discords he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace.”

  1. In 1955, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra flew to the Vatican to give a special concert to show the nation’s gratitude.

  2. As a result of his efforts, while approximately 80 percent of European Jews perished during World War II, 85 percent of Italian Jews survived Nazi occupation

  3. When he spoke out agaisnt deportation in the Nehterlands, it was asnwered by deportation of Catholics, so he was asked to keep the tone down in other to lessen what already was a terrible thing

11)baptismal certificates that were distributed and all the false identity cards that were sent around to all the Jews

  1. As to only individula clerics doing it not the Pope I say PROVE IT.

13)As prisoner in the Vatican, Pius XII was silent about many things, and on principle, not out of fear. Archbishop Sapieha of Krakow upbraided him publicly for not speaking up in late 1939 and 1940 as the intellectual leaders of the Polish Church, lay and clerical, were persecuted by the thousands, beaten, killed, thrown into concentration camps. Sapieha later recognized that moving into open rhetorical warfare would have been useless—and worse, positively inflammatory. He later grasped the method in the Pope’s coolness and followed suit in his own style of leadership as the years went by. He was young Karol Wojtyla’s protector and teacher.

The other glaring slander “Pius IX (1846-1878), who oversaw the kidnapping of a Jewish child who’d been secretly baptized by his family’s Catholic maid, then raised him as his ward.” He uses oversaw like he engineered himself.

It is a sad incident but it has to be explained. The incident happended it the Papal states and the law was that Christian women should not work on Jewish homes, for among other reasons, to avoid what happened.
This Catholic girl was a Jewish boy’s nanny. One day she thought he was going to die so she quickly baptised him. Later on the kid recover, but now he was a Christian and by law Christian kids could not be raised in Jewish home so the kis was taken away.

It is very sad and the law was not fair, but there were it was there which tried to prevent things like that happening. The Pope, as political leader of the Papal States had, like any political leader, to follow the law. Very far from overseeing a kidnapping.


Cecil, now I know why you don’t show your face.

I also made a post here on this subject, but yours didn’t show up then so I started a new thread. Anyway what do you think of this business about the pope condeming communism and not the Nazis? Aslo I have heard a lot of claims that I have verification for. So I was wonder if you are anyone had heard these before.

It is my impression that many people see the types of statements the pope makes today and think that popes always made these sort of statements. It is my understanding that this view is anachronistic. The popes didn’t generaly comment on politics and social issues. They didn’t generally condemn specific governments, but rather spoke on moral principals in a general way. They have never made such statements as people now want Pacelli to have made.

Also I have heard that Pacelli was kind of making statements in a vague way to escape coercion, but it was clear for anyone with half a brain that he was in fact condemning the Nazis.

I have also heard it said that he was deliberately giving the allies messages they could use for propaganda.

Sorry it should read “that I have no verification for.”

Maybe we should close one ofthe threads.

Yes, Popes generally condemmed communism a lot, because it’d been around longer, it had a history of attacks against the Church and was openly “godless”; furthermore Nazism’s initial impetus came from nationalism and anti-communism.

yes,again.Popes tend tobecarefulin their speeches, instead of having to name everybody by name,which would require frequent papal speeches, they go for the principle.

Could he have done more?, sure,everyone can do more. Much more is another thing.

It is intersting, though, that the same people that criticise Pius XII for “not speaking” are the same who criticise Pope John Paul II when he does and go crazy about “church-state separation”, unless of course he managfes to speak aobut something they like, such as the environment.

You defend Pope Pius IX by making it seem like he was relunctantly enforcing an unfair law (the law that allowed him to take the Jewish child from his family). But, please ask yourself - how did the law get passed in the first place - this was the Papal States, after all! All of the laws in the Papal States came from the Popes! They were not forced upon reluctant Popes by someone else. And, let’s take it one step further - suppose that Pope Pius IX had thought that the law was “unfair”? He could have changed it quickly. Or he could have simply declined to enforce it (as law enforcers do every day for all kinds of reasons). Would anything have happened to him if he had simply ignored his own law on the basis that it was immoral - would he have been impeached? He was, after all, the supreme ruler of the Papal States. Did he ever denounce this law? Did he ever denounce it as immoral? He vigorously enforced it because he approved of it.

Yeah, but it was the Papacy that made the law. Pius IX was in charge of a country where you could take a Jewish family’s baby away and raise him in a different religion just because you sprinkled water over him.

I have a candidate for the worst saint, St Augustine. First a short quote and then my reasons for nominating him.

“God is the author of all good things, to continue the good customs which have been practiced by idolators, to preserve the objects and buildings which they have used is not to borrow from them; on the contrary, it taking from them what is not theirs and giving it to God, its true owner.”

This is an insidious bit of work here. On the one hand he justifies adopting the customs and works of non-believers in order to make his religion more palatable to pagans. This allows adopting many pagan holidays and customs into the Church. On the other hand he justifies the conquest and dis-enfranchisment of people of other faiths by saying its ok to take their stuff, that God wants it. Incidentally implying that it’s ok for church members to hold this stuff for God till he comes by to claim it.

This one little statement says so much and gives such leeway for abuse of pagans and non-believers that I was outraged the first time I read and I’ve never forgotten it. The things that it says and the things that it justifys are outragous if you think about it. It’s such a broad and general type of statement that almost any behavior can be justified by as long as it’s directed at non-believers.

I said it was unfair, it is my OWN comment.

Although we may chaff at it, I think the context is clear: The Popes tried to prevent what happened and then having to enforce the law against those who broke it. Let’s not forget that the law was clear and known.

Similarly, in the Us adoption agencies are reluctant to place Black kids with white families, much to the aproval of the African-American community.

It is logical, in the context of 19th century Papal states, that a Christian kid should not be raised by Jews or vice-versa.

As to Wheel’s comment.

It is clear we Catholics can never satisfy people. When Cahtolics destroyed temples and banned old rituals…they’re wrong, if they accept the GOOD things of the culture (for that is the context)…we’re wrong. Cut us some slack.

It is Catholic belief (and also other Christians’) that ANYTHING good anyone does, be they Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Buddhist or Muslim, comes from God. We can’t do good by ourselves.

Let’s have an example. Catholics get to country A. People there are polytheists. People there have a festival of Forgiveness where they get together and ask forgiveness to the other people in the community. Let’s say they convert. Wouldn’t the conversion be easier if we took the good thing of the festival (asking your neighbour for forgiveness) and give it a Christian explanation? Or would you rather start from scratch, tosssing away everything.

When St. Paul spoke to the Jews he quoted the Torah. When he was in Athens, he quoted a Greek poet and praised the “unknown god” they worshipped" saying, “you know guys, Jesus is the God you’ve been worshipping without knowing”. So Augustine was just saying “do what Paul did”

Wheel what should Christians do with converts, then.?

He doesn’t say that he does take it for fact. But I suspect you simply weren’t around in 1963, or you would realize that Cecil is simply stating a fact; “The Deputy” burst upon the world like a bombshell. I was there; I remember.

In any case, seeing that you nowhere support your imputation of malice to Hochhoth, you should be careful about throwing around the word “slander”.

As laid down by the Papal Parliament?

Let’s have an example. Catholics get to country A. People there are polytheists. People there have a festival of Forgiveness where they get together and ask forgiveness to the other people in the community. Let’s say they convert. Wouldn’t the conversion be easier if we took the good thing of the festival (asking your neighbour for forgiveness) and give it a Christian explanation? Or would you rather start from scratch, tosssing away everything.
If it’s a conversion by the free will of the convert, then the convert should accept the faith ‘as is’. If it’s conversion at the point of a sword, then adopting the conquered peoples customs and adapting them is just propaganda and crowd control.

I’m sure it was a bomb. Anything you publish slandering the Catholic Church is a sure hit. And in the 60s, more so. It would’ve been a bomb if he said Pius XII wa gay or a woman or Muslim.

It IS slander if you attack someone unfairly and untruthfully. He didn’t make the Vatican “Buddy list”. I think I’ve shown plenty of evidence, from people who were there, that he was lying.

Should we belive a playwright or Golda Meir, Einstein, Time Magazine, The New York Post" from those fateful days?

In reviewing the play in 1964, The New York Times stated that its “facts may be in dispute; the history imperfect; the indictment too severe.”
Pichas Lapíde, whom I’ve mentioned, wrote his book partly in response to the play. Maybe a former Israeli Foreign Minister was a dupe about the Shoah. Lapide, specifically about the play commented: “It’s so to say a caricature by a more or less pious protestant of what has been told him about how popes are supposed to be…But that hardly has to do anything with the thruth about Pius XII.” (PUR-Magazin, Germany, may 1997).

No papal parlament, but he was also a political leader of a country.

I just wanted to say that I think Rodrigo made an excellent post thoroughly demolishing the flimsy arguments proposed by those who want to make Pius XII out to be “Hitler’s Pope.” Well done, sir.

Cecil should be ashamed to have twice now defended this view, which is more appropriate to a looney anti-Catholic evangelical like Jack Chick than it is to a column/website devoted to finding the truth. I find this column to be far below the usually high standards that Cecil applies to his writings.

Hitler’s Pope is NOT mainstream history, Pius XII was critical of the Nazis before he ascended to Saint Peter’s throne whilst he was the papal ambassador to Germany.

I’m suprised to see cecil didn’t nominate one of the blood-libel saints either whose manner of sainthhod is both fictious and based on an antisemtic premise.

Are the blood libel saints still actually saints? I know the Catholic church got rid of a bunch of saints back in the 60s that turned out to be made up.

As for Pius XII, what he did, what he didn’t do, and what he should have done in regard to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is one of history’s debates.

And it seems to me, for both Piuses, what motivates some of their defenders (and some of their attackers) isn’t the question of anti-semitism, but their religious conservativism. Both Pius IX and Pius XII faced and strongly resisted movements to liberalize the Catholic Church, in Pius IX’s case, the modernism movement, and in Pius XII’s case, the Catholic liberalism and reform movements leading to Vatican II. In both these cases, the popes were strong opponents of the movements, Pius IX going so far to call the first Vatican council, which defined papal infalibility.

So, really, I think, for a lot of people, Montini (I think that was the boy’s name) and the Holocaust are red herrings…the real issue is about whether these popes were right in defending papal authority and traditional Catholicism, or should have made changes and allowed changes to happen in the structure of Catholic life and attitudes.

It’s my real-life first name, but I’d have to say St. Christopher should have been eliminated there, though not a “bad” Saint in any way. The name means Christ-bearer", which is what he did in the story (carry Christ across a river, Old Man of the Sea style,) so clearly the story was made up. And he already had the name, AFAIK, so it’s not like Jesus renaming his follower Peter (ecce Petrus Pontifex) after the word for “rock”, which was by the story a conscious choice done for a purpose.

Perhaps there are other apocryphal (pardon the term) stories of saintly miracles like that early one that ought to be purged.

There was only one blood libel saint whose cultus was offically recognised by the Vatican (and was later offically suppressed at the Vatican II), but there were others whose cultus were popular in local regions.

Criticism of the failure of the popes to do enough in the holocaust is fair enough, but this should not be seen as tacit approval for Hitler as it is quite clear that both the Piuses were strongly ideologically opposed to the Nazis.

Please don’t go overboard in defending the RCC. You’ve done a great job poking holes the the ‘Hitler’s Pope’ theory, but you’ve got to acknowledge that the RCC didn’t always do enough, and even sometimes did wrong things.

And the reason why you’ve ‘got to’ acknowledge the mistakes of the Church: Because Pope John Paul II has apologized to the world for them. He has apologized to the Jews for past instances of anti-semitism.

If you don’t show that you can be critical of some of the messes the RCC has gotten itself into, then that will tarnish all your defenses as being, well, defensive, rather than sound.


Do you have a cite for this, Rodrigo?

Because it conflicts with the numbers I’ve commonly heard: that 1/3 (33%) of Europe’s Jews were killed in the Holocaust.