Francis: “I get ‘existential hives’ when I see that everyone takes it out against the Church and Pius XII”

I buried the lead.  When I wrote HERE about that Vanguardia story, recounted by CNA, I didn’t mention the most important thing.

Pope Francis stuck up for Ven. Pius XII:


One of your projects is to open the Vatican archives on the Holocaust.

They will bring a lot of light.

Does it worry you something could be discovered?

What worries me regarding this subject is the figure of Pius XII, the Pope that led the Church during World War II. They have said all sorts of things about poor Pius XII. But we need to remember that before he was seen as the great defender of the Jews. He hid many in convents in Rome and in other Italian cities, and also in the residence of Castel Gandolfo. Forty-two babies, children of Jews and other persecuted who sought refuge there were born there, in the Pope’s room, in his own bed. I don’t want to say that Pius XII did not make any mistakes – I myself make many – but one needs to see his role in the context of the time. For example, was it better for him not to speak so that more Jews would not be killed or for him to speak? I also want to say that sometimes I get “existential hives” when I see that everyone takes it out against the Church and Pius XII, and they forget the great powers. Did you know that they knew the rail network of the Nazis perfectly well to take the Jews to concentration camps? They had the pictures. But they did not bomb those railroad tracks. Why? It would be best if we spoke a bit about everything.


Pius XII should be declared as Righteous Among The Nations.

Also, for a great collection of primary source information about Pius XII, take a look at the great book by the Gary Krupp, Jewish, called Pope Pius XII and World War II: The Documented Truth: A Compilation of International Evidence Revealing the Wartime Acts of the Vatican.  ALERT: Every library, secular or religious, needs a copy of this book.  You might consider donating one to a seminary, a parish or college library.  Note also Ron Rychlak’s, Hitler, the War, and the Pope, and Rabbi David Dalin’s The Myth of Hitler’s Pope.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. rodin says:

    Pius XII is one of my great heroes. It does not matter that the Church has failed to recognize him as a saint because heaven has surely recognized him long since.

  2. Joboww says:

    Father I would recommend reading Disinformation by Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlak, its a tour de force on how the Soviets began the decimation of Pius’ legacy early and how it eventually became “fact” that he was bad

  3. rachmaninov says:

    Dear Father,
    Please forgive me if I plug my book “Heralds of the Second Coming”, but I would like to mention my own admiration for this great Pope. While researching the book, I discovered a wonderful prophetic charism present in his Magisterium. He, like St Pius X before him and St John Paul II and Benedict XVI after him seemed to discern the signs of the times, and realised the gravity of the situation; of the lateness of the hour in salvation history. Many years back I was convinced that the vicious persecution of his character was the best evidence of his sanctity. The truth is coming out and I for one will rejoice when he is finally St Pius XII.
    God bless
    Stephen Walford

  4. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Never had existential hives, but as an undergrad I had the exegetical blues and I still sometimes get the epistomelogical heebie-jeebies.

  5. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “Every library, secular or religious, needs a copy of this book. You might consider donating one to a seminary, a parish or college library.” Excuse my flogging the obvious, but with any institutional book gift, it would be good to try to find out if it will really (as opposed to merely politely) be welcomed – and made available – rather than hidden away, discreetly dicarded, sold to raise funds, etc.: I suspect many a worthwhile discussion might follow the initial offer (with explanation) of such a gift (even when the gift is turned down).

  6. Lori Pieper says:

    God bless Francis for going to bat for his predecessor this way.

    I too can heartily recommend Krupp’s book. I first read it back when it was a free pdf jammed with information. And now the Kindle version is only 3 bucks. You can’t miss!

  7. Eugene says:

    Kudos to the Holy Father for saying this. But the MSM including the MSM Catholic media won’t publish his words. Doesn’t fit their agenda of pushing a liberal VII pope.

  8. Pingback: Pope Francis defending His Holiness Pope Pius XII! | Crusade of Pope Pius XII

  9. CrusadePiusXII says:

    Praise God our Holy Father is defending my favorite Pope!

  10. jhayes says:

    According to Vatican Radio. Francis also commented on economics in that same interview

    Turning to economic affairs, Pope Francis told the newspaper it is “outrageous” that some countries have a youth unemployment rate of more than 50%, with tens of millions of young Europeans out of work.

    “We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer works, a system that to survive must make war, as the great empires have always done,” he told the newspaper.

    “But since we cannot wage World War III, we then make regional wars. And what does that mean? That we make and sell weapons,” he continued. “And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies — the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money — are obviously cleaned up.”


  11. Rachel K says:

    I totally, totally agree with the Pope’s comment about the Nazi railways being known about by the Allies and yet nothing done. I have always seen the Second World War like this; that Britain became involved when the war started but had turned a blind eye (and worse, Churchill was a eugenicist) to all that had preceded it involving persecution of the Jews. Kristallnacht? The purging of towns and villages of their Jewish populations, by their German neighbours, long before the war? We did nothing. In fact, our involvement in the war was not even then to right the tremendous moral wrong done to the Jews but to liberate our neighbours for fear that we would be next. I do not feel proud as a Brit when I consider this period of history. It was indeed a punishment for lack of repentance as foretold by Our Lady at Fatima.

  12. Lori Pieper says:

    Hmm, now that I’ve got the Kindle book, there is a bit of a problem in that the documents themselves are not very high resolution and hard to read. The book is really just a guide to the documents. But every one of them is up on the Pave the Way Foundation’s website to read or download for free ( — 76,000 pages — a truly staggering amount of information!

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Rachel K,

    I have not yet read enough of his works, but I suspect Sir Martin Gilbert gives a far more subtle and balanced picture of the virtues and failings of the Allies, and Churchill in particular, in this context than you suggest here.

  14. aviva meriam says:

    Sir Martin Gilbert is usually worth the time.
    A line from the Interview….
    “The Pope himself was denounced by Dr. Goebbels” — the Nazi propaganda minister — “for having taken the side of the Jews in the Christian message, in December 1942, where he criticized racism,” Gilbert said.”

  15. Clinton says:

    Oftentimes when I run into someone who repeats that slander against Pius XII, I show
    them the following quote from Albert Einstein, himself a Jewish refugee from nazi
    persecution. This appeared in December 1940, in Time magazine:

    “Being a lover of freedom, when the nazi revolution came to Germany, I looked to
    the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion
    to the cause of truth; but no, the universities 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 Catholic Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing
    the 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.”

    (As Dr. Stephen Maturin might say, “It deserves to be written in letters of gold”.)

  16. TMKent says:

    I realize this thread is a bit old, but I had to comment after an encounter I had this past weekend.

    I was on an outing to watch a baseball game with a Church affiliated boys group. Accompanying some members from neighboring diocese was a man who appeared to be just one of the older leaders. Upon introduction, I was told he was a priest. During the course of conversation he first disparaged a well-known Catholic women’s group –“their ceremonies are so pre Vatican, they need to be changed. They mention Purgatory”. He took on “sycophantic” and “narcissistic” young priests who run around in cassocks and all need psychiatrists. He insulted diocesan priests in general and our bishop in particular. When I tried to tone him down (several boys from our parish were within earshot) he declared “let them be uncomfortable – they should be” I attempted to defend our young priests telling him their credentials and everything I said was “the worst kind”. Just to warn him, I told him my husband and I were fond of the TLM and he would see me at mass the next day in a veil. He went on about St Paul seeing women as “slaves” and “chattel”. When I said I veiled because of the presence of the Eucharist he demanded to know why I didn’t veil in front of my “fellow man” since God was in everyone. When I told him I was fond of Eucharistic Adoration he said “Jesus never told us to worship Him” I tried to get away twice and each time I returned to my seat he had more to say. The whole encounter was so upsetting, I came home and Googled him to find what order he was in and what parish to avoid.

    It turns out he is on the board of advisers for the Pave the Way Foundation that published this book about Pius XII. I have read the book and found the documentation to be fascinating, but I have serious qualms about giving my money to support a group he is affiliated with. They say they are “a non-sectarian organization dedicated to achieving peace by closing the gap in tolerance, education and the practical relations between religions, through cultural, technological and intellectual exchanges… strive to eliminate the use of religion as a tool which, historically has been used, by some, to achieve personal agendas and to cause conflicts”

    I just wanted your readers to know this before they spend their money.

  17. Mike says:

    @TMKent, I feel very bad for what happened. Having taken the time to share your experience with us, you would seem justified in composing and sending a letter to the priest in question summarizing your unhappiness with his bumptious behavior and how it has negatively colored your attitude toward the Pave the Way Foundation.

    Truth in charity via engagement, even if it have no immediate effects, can turn resentment toward constructive ends and is often a spiritual work of mercy withal.

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