On April 28, 1935, Cardinal Pacelli (who would become Pope Pius XII) gave an address to 250,000 in Lourdes, France. He said, "[The Nazis] are in reality only miserable plagiarists who dress up old errors with new tinsel. It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of social revolution, whether they are guided by a false concept of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult."
On May 10, 1937, Pope Pius XI released the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (Germany for "With deep anxiety"). Unlike nearly all encyclicals, which are written in Latin, this encyclical was written in German. It was addressed to the German bishops and was read in all parish churches of Germany. Pope Pius XI said that his Papal Secretary of State, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII, was the individual that should be credited for the encyclical's creation. Furthermore, Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide stated that Pope Pius XI "had good reason to make Pacelli the architect of his anti-Nazi policy. Of the forty-four speeches which the Nuncio Pacelli had made on German soil between 1917 and 1929, at least forty contained attacks on Nazism or condemnations of Hitler’s doctrines. . . . Pacelli, who never met the Führer, called it ‘neo-Paganism.’"
Here is an excerpt:
"Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community—however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things—whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds"
"This God, this Sovereign Master, has issued commandments whose value is independent of time and space, country and race. As God's sun shines on every human face so His law knows neither privilege nor exception. Rulers and subjects, crowned and uncrowned, rich and poor are equally subject to His word. From the fullness of the Creators' right there naturally arises the fullness of His right to be obeyed by individuals and communities, whoever they are. This obedience permeates all branches of activity in which moral values claim harmony with the law of God, and pervades all integration of the ever-changing laws of man into the immutable laws of God." "None but superficial minds could stumble into concepts of a national God, of a national religion; or attempt to lock within the frontiers of a single people, within the narrow limits of a single race, God, the Creator of the universe, King and Legislator of all nations before whose immensity they are "as a drop of a bucket" (Isaiah xl, 15). "
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Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli was elected Pope on March 2, 1939, and he took the name Pius XII. On October 20th of that year, he released his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus (On the Unity of Human Society). It was such an attack against the teachings of Nazism that the Gestapo forbade it being printed or distributed in Germany. France had 88,000 copies printed and dropped by air in Germany. The New-York Times stated the following on the front page of its October 20, 1939, edition: "Pope Condemns Dictators, Treaty Violators, Racism; Urges Restoring of Poland".
During the Holocaust, most of Rome's 8,000 Jews hid in the Vatican. Pope Pius XII saved thousands of Jewish lives. He used numerous networks in Rome to hide the Jewish people, and he even used the assets of the Vatican to ransom Jews from the Nazis. The Chief Rabbi of Rome converted to Catholicism after the war! According to Pinchas E. Lapide in his book, Three Popes and the Jews, Pope Pius XII saved 860,000 Jews from Nazi death camps (214).
Albert Einstein, a Jewish physicist, said the following, which is from a December 23, 1940 Time Magazine article:
"Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, [looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that them had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed .their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks... Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."Sources:
- Wikipedia: Pope Pius XII
- Summi Pontificatus
- Catholic Answers: How Pius XII Protected Jews
- Rabbi Eugenio Zollio
- Pope Pius XII and the Nazis
- Catholic World News Article (April 19, 2007)
- Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights