Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hitler's Pope

(Philadelphia Evening Bulletin) - ...Hitler's Pope has been criticized for its accuracy and dedication to objective history, and Mr. Cornwell admits that since its publication, his views have undergone revision.

"While I believe with many commentators that the pope might have done more to help the plight of the Jews, I now feel, 10 years after the publication of my book, that his scope for action was severely limited and I am prepared to state this," he said....

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THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Ten years after the bombshell book, hyper media criticism, and forty years after the communist propaganda first hit the American public, Pope Pius XII has finally been vindicated....
(ANSA) - Vatican City, September 17 - New research clears controversial wartime pope Pius XII from the accusation that he did not do enough to save Jews, Pope Benedict XVI said on Thursday.

It is the first time the pope has come out publicly to defend the record of his WWII predecessor, who is moving towards sainthood despite accusations of keeping silent about the Holocaust....

.... The pope thanked the Pave the Way Foundation, made up of Catholics and Jews, for uncovering the evidence in favour of Pius.

He voiced the hope that further studies can reinforce ''the historical truth, overcoming all remaining prejudice''. Benedict's statement on the new research - which has not yet been made public - follows last year's assertion by his No.2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, that people ignore evidence disproving Pius was indulgent towards Hitler.

Pius was the victim of a ''black legend'', said Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State....

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( - The Vatican has confirmed the existence of a directive from Pope Pius XII, asking Catholic clergy and religious to shelter Jews from the Holocaust.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bio - news), the Vatican Secretary of State, acknowledged in short April 19 announcement that Pope Pius XII issued instructions for all religious institutions to open their doors to Jewish people. The catacombs of Rome were also made available for shelter....

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(CNA).- A former high-ranking officer with the KGB claims that the Kremlin and the Russian intelligence agency in the 1960s were set on executing a smear campaign against the Catholic Church, and the main target was Pope Pius XII.

In a recent issue of the National Review Online, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who eventually defected from the former Soviet bloc, recounts how the KGB and the Kremlin designed the deliberate campaign to portray the Pius XII “as a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer.”

“In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a super-secret plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority in Western Europe,” writes Pacepa. “Eugenio Pacelli, by then Pope Pius XII, was selected as the KGB’s main target, its incarnation of evil, because he had departed this world in 1958. ‘Dead men cannot defend themselves’ was the KGB’s latest slogan.”

The code name for this operation against Pope Pius XII was “Seat-12.”

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There was no "Hitler's Pope." The whole thing was a fabrication, a lie, invented by the Soviet KGB, in a plan called "Seat 12," devised for the sole purpose of undermining the moral authority of the Catholic Church over the western world. It was enthusiastically embraced by the enemies of the Catholic Church on both sides of the political spectrum. The Secular Left loved it! The Religious Right used it. (I even had a Jehovah's Witness at my door preach it to me.) Oh how eager so many where to believe the lie! Even some Catholics jumped on the bandwagon. The criticism from the Left-wing biased media was unending. We heard it from all the major television and cable networks. After Cornwell's 'Hitler's Pope' was published, literally dozens of knock off books followed. The television preachers, oh how many television preachers, included it in their sermons. Some Evangelical authors included it in their own books on apologetics and eschatology.  Millions upon millions of unsuspecting Evangelicals were subjected to this lie, many of whom still believe it, because they trust the television preacher who told them. (I can't even count the number of times I've been confronted about it by misinformed Evangelicals.) It was perhaps one of the greatest lies of our time - the whopper of the century!

We can learn a lot about those who enthusiastically embraced it, who went out of their way to spread it around, and took every opportunity to rub it in the face of any Catholic who would dare defend the Church on anything. Shall we call it "prejudice?" Perhaps "bigotry" might be a better word. So what are we to say of those Catholics who actually embraced it, using it as an excuse to rationalize their opposition to the Church on this issue or that? What shame! What scandal! What embarrassment! Shame on all those who engaged in this nonsense! Dishonor and disrepute upon those who eagerly embraced such a lie, that so seriously defamed the Church, without even questioning it!

So what are we to say of the mainstream news media? Do we see primetime retractions in their news broadcasts? Do we get so much as an inkling of regret for having slandered the Church for so many years? No. Not a peep out of them. How about the Secular Left-wingers out there? Any apologies? None. There is nothing but silence. What about the Religious Right-wingers? I'll give them credit. At least some have apologized.  A few (especially those who understand what it's like to be slandered) never believed it to begin with.  To them I give thanks. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not holding a grudge here, and I wouldn't advise that any of us do. Rather, I would like to use this whole thing as an object lesson for Catholics, Protestants and non-religious people alike. Prejudice can just as well be defined as eagerly embracing bad news about somebody (or some people) without ever questioning the validity of the news itself, or even the credibility of the source who reported it.

The fabrication of "Hitler's Pope" is the epitome of this. The KGB introduced this lie to the western world in 1963 via a German author and playwright named Rolf Hochhuth. The play, entitled "The Deputy," was introduced as fiction. The pope in the play was never mentioned by name. The incriminating accusations against the pope were made by suggestion and insinuation. Hochhuth himself was raised in Nazi Germany and was a member of Hitler's Youth. While that itself is not incriminating, since service was compulsory, his refusal to talk about it, combined with his defense of those who deny the Holocaust, does tarnish his reputation a bit. It is not known if Hochhuth was directly hired by the KGB to write the play, or if the KGB simply used his material as an opportunity. Only two things are known as fact. The first is that the KGB was authorized by the Soviet Kremlin to smear the reputation of Pope Pius XII after his death in a plan named "Seat 12." The second, is that Rolf Hochhuth wrote the play that started the job. Beyond that we can surmise that Soviet involvement helped to promote the ideas of the play throughout Europe and North America, eventually coming to a climax in John Cornwell's 1999 bombshell book "Hitler's Pope." It can be reasonably assumed that Cornwell was simply operating on the momentum of the propaganda itself, and was probably not working for the KGB, since the Soviet Union fell almost a decade earlier. By this time the KGB's lies had taken on a life of their own, that outlived those who originally promoted them. Cornwell might be considered a victim of this by some, but the obvious distortions in the book causes 'The Catholic Knight' to question his culpability. It would seem to me that Cornwell may have been a victim of Soviet propaganda, but it was his own prejudice that caused him to write his book the way he did. Just to cite a small example of this, the cover of the book features a black and white photo that appears to show the image of Pope Pius XII being saluted by a Nazi officer. In fact, the photo is doctored. A comparison of the original photo with the book cover, reveals that the supposed Nazi officer is actually a civilian cab driver. Deception begins even before the book is opened, while the fables and inaccuracies written therein have been exposed and rebuffed by many historians. Cornwell is responsible for his own libel against Pius XII. Thankfully, for his sake, he is finally starting to admit his error.

Soon Pope Pius XII will be canonized as a saint, and when he is, all of this will be drudged up again for a public to see. This time, however, they'll be given the other side of the story, the whole story, and the world will see just how low the enemies of the Church will sink to slander the name of a good man in the hopes of tarnishing the Church's moral authority. A word to the wise for critics of the Catholic Church, especially those in the mainstream media. You've been played! You've been suckered! Nearly half a century ago a lie was concocted by communists on the other side of the world, and you bought it! They used you. You fell for it, and now it's come out that you unwittingly cooperated with communists to spread KGB propaganda. Are you feeling a little sheepish now? You should. If you don't, you should be worried about yourself. So the lesson is this. Next time you hear a supposed "fact" about the history of the Catholic Church, you might want to do a little research before you believe it. Maybe you ought to check the sources. Maybe you should allow a little skepticism to enter your mind, the next time somebody tells you a "scandalous" tale about the world's largest Christian organization.  It's just a little friendly advice.  Take it for what it's worth.