The Last of Twelve?
Author: Mark Riebling
Why was he silent? Often referred to as “Hitler’s Pope,” Pius XII has frequently been the subject of criticism for his failure to publicly denounce Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party during World War II despite having full knowledge of the many atrocities committed by the Fuhrer and his followers. The pope’s decision to maintain a strict public position of neutrality has often been viewed as just one more piece of evidence demonstrating the moral decline of the Catholic Church during the 20th century. But maybe there’s more to the story. Relying on recently unearthed documents, historian Mark Riebling reveals how the Vatican was anything but idle during World War II. Unfortunately, Church of Spies isn’t much more successful than those brave souls who repeatedly tried to eliminate the most infamous man in German history.
Long before his election to the papacy in 1939, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli had generated conflict with the increasingly powerful Nazi Party in Germany, although as Secretary of State for the Vatican he had been instrumental in agreements that tried to temper Hitler’s opposition to the Catholic faith. While he publicly promoted peace in Europe prior to the onset of war, by the time Germany invaded Poland, Pius was enough of a realist to recognize that Hitler was a monstrous threat to the civilized world.