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Catholic-bashers and Pius' Defenders

by Patrick J. Buchanan
May 18, 2005

Leave it to the New York Times. On the eve of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, this Catholic-baiting newspaper opened its op-ed page to a venomous anti-Catholic rant by Arthur Hertzberg, "a visiting professor of the humanities" at New York University.

Hertzberg slandered no fewer than three popes. Not only did the church of Pius XII remain "silent while Europe's Jews were murdered," he alleges, the church of John Paul II taught Catholics that the "sin of letting the Holocaust happen at its doorstep need not haunt the church ..."

As for Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he is guilty of a mortal sin of omission:

What Cardinal Ratzinger did not do ... was to question the orthodox Catholic position that though individual Catholics can err morally, the church and pope cannot. Until the Vatican reconsiders that outlook, one of the Holocaust's greatest wounds will continue to fester namely, that the major European institution that stood for morality looked away from genocide.

Reading this, I exploded in laughter, trying to imagine Professor Hertzberg instructing Cardinal Ratzinger that he must renounce the dogma of papal infallibility. Yet, this is no jesting matter.

For Hertzberg and the Times are perpetuating a blood libel that is Hitlerite in dimension. Just as Hitler blamed Bolshevism on the Jewish people by constantly denouncing "Judeo-Bolshevism," because some Jews had collaborated in the monstrous crimes of Lenin and Stalin, so Hertzberg damns the church because some Catholics participated in the crimes of Hitler.

Beyond a vile slander, this is a moral outrage. For Hertzberg seeks to lay the crimes of a Nazi regime at the door of a church and pope who spoke out with greater moral clarity and did more to save the Jews of Europe than any other institution.

In a brilliant new anthology, "The Pius War," every lie about the church and libel against Pius XII is addressed. Ronald J. Rychlak, Rabbi David Dallin and others scatter the jackal pack with the sword of truth. Here is but a fraction of what they discovered:

* Of the 44 speeches Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pius XII, gave as papal nuncio in Germany from 1917 to 1929, 40 condemned some aspect of Nazi ideology.

* In March 1935, as Vatican secretary of state, Pacelli wrote an open letter to the bishop of Cologne calling the Nazis "false prophets with the pride of Lucifer."

* Though slandered as "Hitler's Pope" today, in the German press of the 1930s, Pacelli was called the "Jew-loving" cardinal because of 55 protests he sent to Germany as Vatican secretary of state.

* In 1939 and 1940, Pius XII acted as the secret intermediary between the German plotters against Hitler and the British.

* In 1940, the pope granted an audience to Joachim von Ribbentrop, who chastised him for siding with the Allies at which Pius XII began to read to Hitler's foreign minister a list of Nazi atrocities. Wrote a newspaper of record: "In the burning words he spoke to Herr Ribbentrop, (Pius) came to the defense of Jews in Germany and Poland." That newspaper was the New York Times.

* After hearing the pope's Christmas address of 1941, the Times wrote: "The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas. ... In calling for a 'real new order' based on 'liberty, justice and love' ... the pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism."

* In October 1944, after the liberation of Rome, the New York Times wrote, "Under the pope's direction, the Holy See did an exemplary job of sheltering and championing the victims of the Nazi-Fascist regime."

Pius XII's sterling record stands for all time. All that has changed is the moral character and commitment to truth of the New York Times. Consider:

* In 1943, Chaim Weizmann, later the first president of Israel, wrote, "The Holy See is lending its powerful help wherever it can, to mitigate the fate of my persecuted co-religionists."

* In 1944, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Israel, declared, "The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness ... (is) doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of Divine Providence in this world."

* At war's end, Moshe Sharett, who would become the second prime minister of Israel, met with Pius XII and "told him that my first duty was to thank him and through him the Catholic Church on behalf of the Jewish public for all they have done in the various countries to rescue the Jews."

* On Pius' death in 1958, he was eulogized by Golda Meir.

Is it likely Jewish leaders of the war generation would dissemble about a matter like Hitler's pogrom? No. They spoke the truth and Hertzberg's falsehoods are exceeded in baseness only by his ingratitude.

Pope Benedict XVI should proceed with the canonization of Pius XII, and terminate "dialogues" with men who look on dialogue only as a methodology of moral shakedown.

2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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