Thoughts after Reading The Pope at War by David Kertzer

  • 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.