To my previous blog on Pope Pius XII, Gabriel Wilensky comments and I paste it here again below. I am no expert on Pope Pius XII, therefore I cannot condemn or accuse him. I can only listen to the voices of historians and these voices and writings offer totally different perspectives. I tend to want to believe that Pope Pius XII was not an anti-Semite and did what he could and more so than most other world leaders. I also believe that with 20/20 hindsight we can fault him and many others for what they didn't do, verbally and in actuality.
But let's say that Mr. (Dr.?) Wilensky is correct in his assessment about Pope Pius XII. I will also agree that anti-Semitism was at work throughout the ages, even pre-Christian, that has contributed to Jewish suffering and the Holocaust. Christians from this perspective could well be complicit. But lets face it Hitler and his henchmen were far from Christian--they were atheistic, godless secularists trying to form a Utopian society of perfect blue-eyed, blond Germans.
In addition, many Jewish commentators are silent on the other 6 million who died under Hitler. These died also because of their ethnic origin, mental or physical disabilities or sexual orientation. The majority of these were Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. Was Pope Pius XII anti-Christian due to is so-called silence in this regard?
Finally, lets fast forward to today. In this country alone nearly 50 million unborn children have been slaughtered because of our Government's promotion of the legality of abortion.These victims' only crime is that they are "unborn, underdeveloped physically, unwanted, undesired, unseen, not heard and perhaps the wrong gender and experience mental and physical disabilities that would be burdensome to those who would have to care for them." While I know it may not be appropriate to call this a Holocaust, what would we call it? I would ask Mr. Wilensky if he has been silent about this wholesale slaughter? What Jewish Rabbis in this country have been silent? Are there any rabbis on the international level and in Israel who remain silent on this wholesale slaughter in the USA and elsewhere? Please name them! Or has there been an explicit call to allow for the legalization of this slaughter under the euphemism of the despicable term "Pro-choice?" We're in the midst of this major infanticide today and blindness, silence and advocacy for the pro-choice agenda needs to be condemned as loudly and clearly as the voices against Pope Pius XII condemn him for his so-called silence and inaction during and before his papacy! Mr. Wilensky, I hope your silence will not be deafening on this subject of legalized abortion.
Gabriel Wilensky said...
Pope Benedict claims the “The Apostolic See itself provided assistance, often in a hidden and discreet way” during the Holocaust. How does he know this? Is there any evidence he has access to the rest of the world doesn’t? If so, given the controversy surrounding the role of the Vatican and of Pope Pius XII during the murder of six million Jews, the last and most devastating step in a long history of antisemitism fostered by the Church for centuries, it behooves the Church to release any information as soon as possible. Yet, about 50 years ago when the controversy about Pope Pius began the Holy See released eleven volumes of documents with the purpose of “exonerating” the wartime pope from any wrongdoing, including that of inaction. It stands to reason these must have been the best documents showing the Vatican’s “hidden and discreet” work to save Jews. Yet, almost none of it showed the Holy See or the pope had done that. The Vatican’s public efforts are of course well-known, and they show no clear action on behalf of the hounded Jews of Europe, including those of Rome. Now Pope Benedict wants to raise Pope Pius to the sainthood for his “heroic virtues”. Even though it’s the Church’s prerogative to canonize whoever they wish, canonizing Pope Pius XII before the Vatican Secret Archives covering the WWII period are opened to independent researchers is a misguided effort that can turn into a public relations disaster for the Catholic Church.
Six Million Crucifixions:
How Christian Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust
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Mr. Wilensky is on a mission...to sell books.
Thank you, pinanv525! You beat me to it... I was going to post the exact same comment.
To criticize Pope Pius XII for alleged inaction during the Holocaust is to believe revisionist history put forth mainly by those with anti-Catholic agendas.
Mr. Wilensky's criticism of Pope Pius XII is based on prejudice, misinformation, and propoganda regarding the Church, just as the Holocaust was based on prejudice, misinformation, and propoganda regarding the Jews.
Additionally, I'm no historian, but it seems to me that, given the Nazi persecution of Catholics, Pope Pius XII was in a tough situation regarding overt action against the Holocaust for fear that such action could lead to increased persecution of both Catholics and Jews.
Finally, the Catholic Church does not need to reveal so-called secret documents for review by so-called experts. With regard to canonization, the Church is her own expert.
Mark and Pinanv525 are right. I think he is a "troll" who is using your blog to publicize his book. Well, he got his publicity. So far, he doesn't seem willing to address anything else that has been posted. Maybe he'll prove us wrong.
Mr. Wilensky, where is your response?
Well, if we could agree on one point is that there are different opinions about what Pope Pius XII did or did not do during the war. My point, however, is that his public record is known and not open to dispute, and shows him to have been silent. If you think I am making this up because I have some ulterior motive, because I want to sell more books or any other nonsense, then feel free to find Pope Pius’ actions on behalf of the Jews during WWII and prove me wrong. Many defenders of the pope here even admit to not being historians or experts, yet they speak with the voice of a world authority on the matter… I understand you want to believe he did great things, but historical analysis is not based on wishful thinking. I also wish he had done much more than what I think he did. The issue is that if the pope did indeed do a lot of “behind the scenes” work to save the Jews, and I am not saying he didn’t, although I suspect he did not, then it makes sense for the Church to make that information public.
In regard to whether Hitler was religious or not, and whether his henchmen were religious or not, I think you do not have your facts exactly right here either. Hitler was indeed an atheist, but he was raised and died a Catholic. When he was younger he wanted to be an abbot. He may have been an atheist, but he absorbed the teachings of Christianity, and understood very well how to manipulate the people using the teachings of Christianity, including the inherent antisemitism the Church had spread for the previous two millennia, and continued to spread during the Nazi era. Despite efforts from the Nazi leadership, the German people remained highly religious. According to the Nazis’ own survey, a mere 3.5% of the German population described themselves as Gottläubige (neo-pagan) as late as 1944. Military chaplains tended the souls of the soldiers in the German armed forces, the SS and the police units who murdered over a million Jews on the Eastern Front. In other words, despite efforts to eradicate religion, the German people—including the perpetrators—remained highly religious throughout the war, and it’s unquestionable their identity was anchored on the teachings of Christianity. The same can be said of the many people who willfully collaborated with the Germans in Poland, Hungary, Croatia, France, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Maybe I can invite you to read my blog on this topic here: http://www.sixmillioncrucifixions.com/blog/?p=40 ?
You accuse Jewish commentators from being silent about crimes perpetrated against non-Jews. This does not correlate with my experience. I have seen many Jews discuss the Holocaust and decry the persecution of others. But you cannot equate the two things. The Nazis made the decision to exterminate the Jewish people as a whole, and the mass executions in the east and the gas chambers in the death camps were meant for the Jews, and mostly Jews perished there. This of course does not mean other people were not persecuted and murdered during the war. Any life lost is a tragic loss irrespective of religious affiliation or ethic background.
Regarding abortion that is a totally different discussion, and you are correct it’s wrong to call it a holocaust. I did not mention this because I think it’s totally irrelevant to the point I was making. But, if you want to know my opinion, I disagree with your premise. Even the lexicon you use is incorrect: “unborn children”, “wholesale slaughter”, “infanticide” are all terms that are misleading as they refer to something else.
From Fr. McDonald: To Gabriel Wilensky: In terms of your historical perspective on Pope Pius XII, you are certainly entitled to believe these as some historians would suggest. Not all historians do agree with these others. Be that as it may.
In terms of Hitler's religion, you are correct--he was culturally a Catholic but far from it in government and in death. Are there no Jews who died in infamy? Was their infamy due to their Judaism?
Finally your comments on the "genocide" of abortion ring so hollow and untrue as to call into question your judgment your entire premise about Pope Pius XII. Your justification of this procedure is just down right shameful. Shame! Shame!
In her small book, "Did Pope Pius XII Help The Jews?", Sr. Margherita Marchione offers a limited chronology of Pius XII's life. The first entry concerning Pacelli and the Jews is February 9, 1916. (Note the date) "In response to an appeal by the American Jewish Committee on Dec 30, 1915, that Pope Benedict XV use his moral influence to speak out against anti-Semitism, Pacelli (later, Pius XII) became deeply involved in the preparation of a pro-Jewish document signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Gaspari. His statement appeared in the New York Times, April 17, 1916 under the headline, "Papal Bull Urges Equality for Jews."
As early as 1916, Pacelli was involved in work on behalf of the Jews.
Both "Pius XII and the Second World War - According to the Vatican Archives" by Fr. Pierre Blet, SJ, and "The Myth of Hitler's Pope" by Rabbi David Dalin, offer extensive reviews, based in part on Vatican archival materials, of the involvement of Pius XII and the Vatican on behalf of the Jews throughout the years before, during, and immediately after World War II.
Both books cite their sources. Dalin's book alone offers 673 end notes.
It seems to me that anyone who asks "Where is the evidence?" has simply not looked.
Dear Fr. McDonald,
First of all, once again, the issue of abortion is completely immaterial to this discussion so I'd appreciate if you can leave it out.
The very fact that there is disagreement on the issue of what Pope Pius do or did not do should give you pause. I realize that Dalin, Rychlak and others have written in the pope's defense, but so did many others with an opposite argument. How can that be? Can a falling ball be interpreted as a rising ball? I think that what we are seeing is that those actions cited in defense of the pope may be indeed true, but they are interpreted as meaningful when perhaps they are not. What I mean by this is that the pope perhaps did or said something and this is cited as an example of the pope's diligence and caritas, but the reality may be that either that was of little or no consequence. This is really not so much a matter of interpretation, as the actual record does not show him saving many people. A perfect example of this divergence of opinions on the meaning of things is the pope's 1942 Christmas message: the pope's apologists often cite this as an example of the pope clearly speaking out in defense of the Jews and against genocide, however, a neutral reading of the relevant passage shows that it didn't really mean much at all (I'd be happy to put the quote here, if you wish. I discuss this in more detail in my book Six Million Crucifixions).
But, irrespective of the things the pope may have done in private, my point really is that the pope failed to make what you'd expect from the leader of such a giant and important organization as the Catholic Church, and that was to give direction to the many, many millions of Catholics then involved in mass murder to stop the genocide as that was a crime and a sin. Aside from the colossal moral failure of him not having done that, I could argue he betrayed the faithful whose souls were in his care, because he allowed them to continue sinning by neglecting to give them clear guidance.
To Gabriel Wilensky: I will not remain silent or be accused of being silent for so great a crime that is perpetrated against the unborn or pre-born children of the world. To do so would be complicit in this crime against humanity. For you to declare otherwise makes a mockery out of your premise concerning Pope XII which is in fact contrary to the truth in both cases. I just want to be heard and loud and clear on that topic. There is a connection between the Holocaust and abortion and the link between leaders who make death legal whether it be for those deemed "undesirable" becasuse of their religion, race or status in life. Those who are capable from the human point of view and know this can no longer be silent! Pope Pius XII was not silent about the Jews, Pope Benedict is not silent about the Jews and he certainly isn't silent about abortion. Why do you persist in being so? Shame! Shame! Hiss!
Mr. Wilensky, Since the discussion seems to be hottest on this thread, I will re-post a bit of what I said before. There is some question among many historians as to what people knew about the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis and when they knew it. Historians cannot say for sure what Churchill and Roosevelt knew and when. It does seem that there was widespread awareness that Jews and others were being placed in camps (so were Japanese here), but that is very different from mass executions. Athough abhorrent,the incarceration of large numbers of people is a far cry from what actually was going on and does not carry the urgency and outrage, during wartime, that mass executions do. Once again, many world leaders and other people who heard rumors about the atrocities could not believe it...so, they didn't. A person's inability to conceive of such horrors committed by Christians against other humans, while perhaps naive, is no character flaw. Surely Churchill and Roosevelt were in a better position to know what was happpening in Germany than was the Pope. If there are doubts as to the extent of their knowledge, then certainly we cannot be sure what the Pope actually knew.
Granted, this discussion is not primarily about abortion. However, if one believes that life begins at conception, then it is no less murder than the Holocaust. Without attempting to diminish the horrors of Nazi Germany, the abortion numbers are of far greater magnitude. It would seem to demand at least the same outrage. This is what leads many of us to be a bit suspect of the motives of those who are still beating us over the head with the sins of Nazi Germany. "Holocaust" fear and guilt are used to push every Liberal egalitarian cause. It has been used by the nuclear disarmament crowd, by the anti-war cabal, and by every so-called Progressive to impugn conservative causes and traditional values...Ewww, they're a bunch of Nazis." So, you see, your's and others' zealousness with regard to indicting the Pope or anyone else for crimes against the Jews while glossing over so many others (the pogroms of Stalin, for instance, or Mao, or Pol Pot, or pick one), including abortion, tends to bring a "ho hum" response. Indifference to human suffering is a sin; you should not, in your pious invective, tempt the rest of us to fall, for that is also a sin.
Wilensky, Neither do I care for the presumptuous title of your book. The elevating of any human death, no matter how terrible, to the level of Christ's redemptive sacrifice for all mankind is little short of blasphemy. It is typical of post-modern humanism's desire to sacralize human suffering (brought about by sinful free will)above all else until it becomes some kind of existential Epiphany, a secular eucharist of self-righteous communion with like minded nihilists.
A check of Mr. (not Dr.) Wilensky's footnotes show heavy reliance on secondary sources, including Daniel Goldhagen and James Carroll, who also rely on secondary sources.
You won't find many authors cited who challenge any of Mr. Wilensky's preconceived views or much in the way of archival material or too many sources in other languages.
This isn't a serious book, and Mr. Wilensky (who actually works in the computer industry) is not a serious author.
In fact, his publisher, QWERTY Publishers, appears to be a vanity press he set up. How come its Web site offers only one book, his own? See http://www.qwertypublishers.com/qwerty/Our_Books.html
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