The Vatican and the Holocaust

The Vatican and the Holocaust

The Vatican statement on the Shoah* addresses two questions: Why didn’t Church authorities speak out against the murder of the European Jews? And is there a relationship between Christian anti-Judaism and Nazi anti-Semitism?

It is still unclear why Pope Pius XII remained silent in the face of his knowledge of the death camps. The Vatican statement simply reiterates the old argument about the necessity of caution, according to which Pope Pius XII was silent because he feared the Nazis would take retaliatory measures against Catholic targets, and even against the Vatican itself.

This defense of the Vatican’s silence fails to come to grips with the most damning piece of evidence: how the Vatican behaved at the end of the war. Pius XII might have been intimidated before the spring of 1945, but why did he remain silent after Hitler’s defeat? The most incriminating insight into the Vatican’s real attitudes is its effort to secure safe passage out of Europe for former...

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