Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
HENRIQUES, Alan C. Pius XII: War, peace and the Jewish question. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2014, vol.40, n.2, pp. 43-56. ISSN 2412-4265.
This article deals with the response of Catholics to the Nazi threat in Germany in the years 1939 to 1945. In it I argue that Catholics, and in particular Pope Pius XII (1876-1958), did in fact respond to the Nazi racial policy that led to the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust (1939-1943). Documents such as the Reichskonkordat (Reich Concordat, signed on 20 July 1933) and Mit brennender Sorge (With Burning Concern, published on 10 March 1937) expressly criticised the Germans for their policy of racial superiority. Pius XII, who became pope in the year in which World War II began and died 13 years after it ended, his pontificate having continued into the Cold War period, played a significant role. Aspects explored in this article include Vatican diplomacy and its impact on the Jews, a radio message read by Pius XII and the encyclical Meminisse Juvat, the defamation of Pius XII, and world peace in relation to Church freedom. It is hoped that a consideration of these aspects will illustrate the shortcomings of statements alone in effecting change within society. The question remains: Did Pius XII, as pontiff, do enough to stop the Holocaust? In this article I concentrate mainly on the World War II period, but in light of Pius XII's mistrust of communism in both Russia and Italy, I will also pay some attention to the Cold War period. Although I concentrate on Pius XII, I will also mention the initiatives of the Catholic Church in the period 1939 to 1958.