- Excellent book. Reads like a novel. Highly recommended for students, scholars and readers interested in World War II and specifically the Catholic Church’s role dealing with the leaders of Italy (Mussolini) and Germany (Hitler).
- While understanding that the Pope needed to proceed cautiously on the diplomatic front to protect the Church and Catholics who lived in Italy and Germany, Pius XII generally caved to the demands of the Fascists and Nazis.
- In pre-war Germany, there was evidence of abuse committed by Catholic priests. This was used as a negotiation card by the Nazis to get Pius XII to agree to their terms.
- Pius XII’s reluctance to speak out against the atrocities committed against the Jews was an act of moral cowardice.
- Pius XII did not address the Nazi bombings of London, Rotterdam and Warsaw as they occurred. However he lobbied the Americans and British not to bomb Rome and the Vatican.
- Kertzer provided stories where priests and nuns refused to aid Jews seeking to hide or flee from Nazi pursuers.
- Pius XII did lobby Nazi authorities to protect Jews who did convert to Catholicism. He did very little to protest the poor treatment and murder of Jews.
- Pius XII was fully aware of what atrocities were occurring.
- Many of the atrocities against Jews were committed by Nazi officers and soldiers who were Catholic.
- Pius XII does not merit any consideration for canonization. He certainly was no saint.
As part of full disclosure, I was baptized a Catholic, received the sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Communion and confession. I attended a Catholic grade school, a Catholic high school and one year of a Catholic university. I was married 43 years ago in a Catholic church ceremony. My wife is a devoted Catholic who attends mass weekly. I have friends and family who are devout Catholics and continue to attend church services. I have friends of other faiths and I respect their religious beliefs. I just don’t share them…
The Bible tells of the story of Paul who was converted on the way to Damascus after being blinded by a bright light. Unlike Paul, I experienced a deconversion but it was not very sudden and not as dramatic as his experience. It occurred over years. I experienced some qualms about the Catholic faith as early as age 12 when I heard priests say that those who were not baptized in the Catholic faith would not see the kingdom of heaven. That claim did not seem very fair to me but I also understand that many other religions preach the same doctrine. I also was not very comfortable about a belief in the existence of God. One of the priests in my high school started off the class by saying that he was going to prove the existence of God. Basically he promulgated the first cause argument, that if you go back into history and rewind the time machine that God was the cause of everything included creation. I remember the priest being very satisfied with his lecture until I asked, “In that case, who created God?” Was there some thing or someone in existence prior to God?
So while Paul may have been on his way to Damascus, I was on my way to Doubt. But while my questions about the existence of God were not settled, my doubts about the Catholic Church were settled. I did not agree with their positions on birth control, abortion, divorce, women’s role in the church and papal infallibility.
I was also sickened by stories of abuses of children by priests. In my particular diocese, there were numerous cases of these abuses and worse, coverups by Bishops, Cardinals and Popes. Abuses of children by priests were worldwide. I found it very hypocritical that the Church thought it had a moral voice given the atrocities it had committed over centuries. While I recognize the good works of many priests and nuns as well as many Catholics, I found that the Church as an institution was very corrupt and should have no role in saving souls.
I would have expected some type of reform and housecleaning but little has changed. Old white men continue to run the Church as they have for centuries, poorly. There have been reports of various financial irregularities. I also spent some time learning of the Church’s dismal history, particularly Pope Pius XII’s activities or lack of in protecting Jews from the Holocaust.
I’ve never been comfortable with the Church’s position in politics. I remember when John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he made a special point that he would not integrate his religious beliefs with his duties as President of the United States. In other words, he was not going to take any advice from the Vatican or the pope. I can’t say that all Catholic politicians or Supreme Court justices have followed Kennedy’s example.
Of course the hot button issue for Catholics is abortion. However the Church’s position on birth control made this so much more problematic. The Church’s position on birth control also promoted poverty, hunger and crime in many countries. In 2016 Catholics preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton by 23%. Many Catholics believed that Trump had a respect for life. I question where this respect is for the 200,000+ people who have died from COVID-19 and for the many more that will die from Trump’s lack of attention to the disease.
The Church also came out within the past few weeks with their opposition to euthanasia. Described as “poisonous to society,” the church is prohibiting the distribution of sacraments to those who wish to end their lives. Two years ago, I watched my mother struggle and literally wither away from dementia. When I visited her nursing home, I had absolutely no sense that there was a divine presence in her building that gave a damn about her suffering. This is part of what the Church believes is there respect for life. I see it as unnecessary suffering and loss of personal dignity.
So in a purely partisan move to help his declining political campaign, Donald Trump has nominated Amy Connie Barrett for Supreme Court justice. Mrs. Barrett possesses some outstanding personal characteristics. At this point, her character appears impeccable. There are some who are concerned about her Catholicism. I may share some of that concern myself. But my opposition to Mrs. Barrett is based on other concerns:
First, I don’t believe that she should’ve been nominated unless Donald Trump is reelected in six weeks. In 2016, the Republicans blocked Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court despite the fact he was nominated in March to replace Judge Antonin Scalia. Republicans said that the next Supreme Court nominee should come from the winner of the November election. The same protocol should’ve been applied to Mrs. Barrett’s nomination.
Second, Mrs. Barrett has been nominated by an inept and incompetent man. His Administration is strewn with men and women who have been unable to perform their duties in the Cabinet or other areas of government. These men and women are people that Donald Trump has chosen. I have no confidence in any man or woman that Donald Trump chooses. I also have little confidence in any man or woman that would accept a high-level government position from Donald Trump.
Can anyone find an appointee of Donald Trump that is doing a good job?