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Consensus and Controversy: Defending Pope Pius XII [Paperback]

By Margherita Marchione (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   400
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.94" Width: 5.98" Height: 0.98"
Weight:   1.44 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2002
Publisher   Paulist Press
ISBN  0809140837  
EAN  9780809140831  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Explores the controversies surround Pope Pius Xll and his defense of the Jews during the Second World War, with documentary evidence.

Publishers Description
Explores the controversies surrounding Pope Pius XII and his defense of the Jews during the Second World War, with documentary evidence.

Buy Consensus and Controversy: Defending Pope Pius XII by Margherita Marchione from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780809140831 & 0809140837

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More About Margherita Marchione

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Marchione is a member of the Religious Sisters Filippini and professor emerita of Italian language and literature at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Margherita Marchione currently resides in Morristown, in the state of New Jersey.

Margherita Marchione has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Passionate but flawed defense.   Jun 6, 2005
Mechione is a well-intentioned woman whose thesis is that Pope Pius valiantly tried to prevent the holocaust. Relying upon items in Vatican files and the efforts of some church members to stem suffering, she argues Pius was misunderstood. Some Catholics saved Jews at tremendous risk to themselves and Italian Jews were spared due to the activity of the Vatican. Nonetheless, the well-intentioned author fails to address some tough points and glosses over others. Here are a few:

1. The Vatican executed an important concordance with Nazi Germany and later with fascist Italy. Religious Catholics could believe that participation in the Nazi regime did not offend Catholic traditions. Indeed the 1933 concordat between the Catholic Church and the new Nazi regime said essentially that. Would the Jews have suffered less if instead of signing an agreement with the Nazi ruling, Pius had spoken out against the excesses of Nazism. Few of the relatives of those that had died in the concentration camps, beaten on Krittalnacht, would agree with the concordat.

2. Clearly many Catholics were Nazis and the Holocaust could not have occurred without the active support of Catholic Nazis.

One can validly say the Catholic Church should not be singled out. Germans Lutherans and Eastern Orthodox likewise played an active role in identifying Jews, arresting them, torturing and starving, and then killing them, whether they were steroetypic 60 year old men with beards or 7 year old boys and girls crying to be saved at Auschwitz.

3. She notes a few sympathetic statements- "This Christmas, more than ever, the Pope is a lonely voice crying out in the silence of a continent." --New York Times editorial, Dec. 25, 1942. Yet even here they are misplaced. Generally the statements did not mention Jews as the victims or more importantly, Catholics, as the perpetrators. This was an immensely powerful man. Had he told the faithful not to persecute (or at least not torture, starve, or kill) the Jews, surely many, if not most would listen. The statements were never directed towards Catholics and maintained the fiction that people other than his faithful were committing these horrible acts.

4. The Bible and New Testament cannot be anti-semitic; it is a story about a Jew, Jesus. Nonetheless, to the unschooled similarities between Nazi teachings could be seen.

A. The New Testament at times portrays Jews as a money-obsessed sect (remember Jesus ejecting the money-lenders) with one, Judas, betraying Jesus for gold. Nazi doctrine taught the Jews were equally obsessed with money and had betrayed Germany.
Clarifying that Church doctrine could not support or permit the horrible acts that were being perpetrated was a point Pope Pius should have made. Instead the various concordats between the church and the Nazi regime allowed German Catholics to believe that their religion need not conflict with their patriotism.

The biblical statement by Jewish temple leaders that his blood will be upon us provided some misguided Germans with the religious justification for continued Jewish suffering and death; a clarificaiton could have helped.

Indeed, many of the Jews who were killed were not really Jews at all. Many had converted to Catholicism or other Christian religions. They may have gone to Church on Sunday and partaked of communion, but when Hitler came to power, they were still Jews. Clarifying that converted Catholics were Catholics would have placed a barrer in front of Hilter's racial classifications.

4. In the US, Father Coughlin was a vicious anti-semite who told Americans the Jews were trying to involve the US in a fool-hardy war. The depth and spreadth of his anti-semitism and support among Catholics and other Christians can't accurately be conveyed here. What is clear is that Pius did not stop him and his anti-semitic comments could reasonably be construed to represent Church teachings.

5. Temples were looted and burned in Crytallnacht. One priest stood by the temple and said stop do not do this. But 1, only
1. Others stood silent as Jews were terrorized and their places of worship burned. Had Pius vigorously intervened here, the holocaust could have been prevented, at least Catholic participation limited.

6. The extent of suffering and death was high in Catholic countries like Poland. Polish Catholics enthusiastically provided names of Jewish men, women, and family to Nazi officials, so they could be arrested, property taken, and most sent to concentration camps for death. One million Jews could not have been located in Poland without the active support and participation of Polish Catholics.

Again clarification is fair. Eastern Orthodox congregants and those of other Christian faiths seemed equally happy to provide names of Jewish men, women, and children to the Nazis so that they could be imprisoned and killed. Few other religious leaders spoke out either.

7. Catholics arrested and killed Jews, at the same time they attended communion, and refrained from divorce and abortion. They followed church teachings. In short, Catholics played a vital role in helping bring Hitler to power, destroy Jewish synagogues, enforcing racial laws, capture Jewish women and children, kill them, and bringing the holocaust to its sad conclusion. Couild this have occurred in the face of strong religious pronouncements to the contrary. Members of other Christian denominations played equally important roles too.

8. Did a few Israeli officials say some nice words about Pius. Sure. The new state had been attacked by four separate countries. Aside from the US there were few places for Jews to go. They had been murdered in Germany, France, Poland, Ukraine, and elsewhere. This was a time no offend people.

We can recognize recently deceased John Paul as a great man who helped bring people together. We do not seek to level current church members with the sins of the past. However, if the purpose of the book is to set down an accurate record, it fails. Many Catholics seek a defense of Pope Pius just like Capernicus's foes sought to show the planets revolved around the earth.

The best that can be said is that this was a modest man whose true beliefs remained unclear. He or at least his staff did help Italian Jews. As to the many others, too little was said, and too much was agreed. We can only speculate of what would have occurred had he told his faithful not to assist the Nazis or participate in acts against the Jews.

The task of discussing what should have been done is important because we all face moral quandries. Broad Catholic bashing is misplaced; for Catholic charities probably have done as much to prevent hunger and combat starvation in the last 30 years as any religion. Pope John Paul brought people together before his untimely death. Ultimately confronted with some tough choices, Pope Pius failed and many died. A more complete and balanced discussion could have made this a better book, though combining this with books like Hitler's Pope can provide a somewhat balanced view.

A Thorough and Meticulous Defense of Pope Pius XII  Aug 8, 2004
Sister Margherita, a member of the Filippini Sisters as well as a noted professor at Fairleigh Dickinson, presents a meticulously researched and highly effective rebuttal to the current condemnation of Pope Pius XII's actions (or supposed inactions) with respect to the Holocaust during World War II. In recent years, several books castigated the wartime Pontiff for his failure to protect the lives of European Jews during a time of great atrocity. Some have even gone to the extent of painting a portrait of Pope Pius XII as an ineffectual bureaucrat at best, or a Nazi collaborator at worst. As the author demonstrates through a compendium of letter, newspaper articles, documents and other direct sources, the Vatican in general, and Pope Pius XII in particular, acted within the constraints of an isolated nonmilitary power, to save countless lives through a variety of diplomatic and political channels.

Those who would accuse the pope of Nazi complicity often do so from a fundamental lack of understanding of the Vatican's Power in the first half of the 20th century. In part, this is due to the Catholic Church's outreach in today's era of media saturation as well as the worldwide visibility of John Paul II, the first Pope to recognize the power of global communication. The Vatican in the 1920's - 1940's was one of relative isolation. Its days of any military power were long past and it was surrounded by numerous hostile political powers. Initial attempts to condemn the Nazi war machine directly were met with swift and escalating retaliation by that government. Given the overwhelming military might of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the Pope was unable to prevail by military might and was forced to save lives within the limitations of its diplomatic and spiritual offices.

This effort was recognized by many of the world's governments, other Christian denominations, and most significantly, by the Jewish people and the State of Israel itself. Only in more recent decades were the realities of the Vatican lacquered with the brush of contemporary expectations. The book provides a factual and accurate basis for refuting these allegations, casting a bright light on the truth of activities during what was one of the darkest periods of human history.
A Good Start  Apr 3, 2004
Seeks to present a balanced view of the pope, contrary to some other recent bashes of the man who is credited with saving the lives of thousands of Jews. Although the author may be too close to the subject for what some would argue about objectivity. A very useful resource on a timely topic.
Divide and Conquer as Nazi technique  Nov 3, 2003
Even the most benign schoraly attempts of young American authors to understand and evaluate the implications of Hitler's Third Reich seem to unite in blaming 1.) the "German people", 2.) the Catholic Church, and 3.) Pope Pius XII for not having prevented the holocaust by protesting, resisting, and denouncing the government in groups or even mass rallies. I finally rediscovered two pieces of evidence which clearly demonstrate how humanly impossible these idealistic demands are unless one assumes mankind to consist of great numbes of heroes and saints ready to be martyred. [It may be of interest that none of the few authors I personally asked if they were willing to lose their jobs, or even life and limb for their persecuted neighbors, (Jews, negroes, or Muslems, as the case may be) sat up and shook their heads.]
1.) Archbishop von Galen protested against the killing of the "mentally and physically ill" who were burdens to the state. One Protestant and three Catholic ministers in the diaspora city of Luebeck distributed the bishops sermons, discussed them in groups and spoke up against the German war effort. They were arrested in June 1942 and executed in November. Nothing happened to the bishop--"Divide and conquer"
2.)The famous philosopher-nun Edith Stein was sent to a convent in Holland to protect her from Nazi persecution. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands the Dutch bishops protested "the deportation of Jews...Edith was taken on 2 August 1942. . . She died at Auschwitz on 9 August 1942" Nothing happend to the bishops.
I wonder if the authors in question still want to condemn Pope Pius XII for protesting in a minor key while saving like Schindler many Jews in real life.
[check and]
Historical Truth and Experience  Jun 26, 2002
Pius XII was the Pope of the Catholic Youth Movement in Germany during the thirties, especially during the Third Reich when it had to go "underground." This fact may explain why the recent publications condemning the Pope are deeply disturbing to the surviving members of "Neues Deutschland," "Katholische Pfadfinder," "Kolping," and other groups of the movement which flourished before Hitler came to power.

By diligently collecting and analysing the newspaper articles, books, and Vatican documents of the time in question Margherita Marchione's "Consensus & Controversy" reestablishes the facts the generation of the Second World War knew by experience: Pius XII did his best to help the victims of the Nazi regime. He saved more of them than all other national leaders, including the Zionist activists of the time, together.

From personal experience I can corroborate two facts the author elaborates:
1.) As a student teacher in the industrial district of Germany in 1955 I rented a room from a Communist family. The husband had been a miner. When the couple found out that I was a Catholic, they started to run down Pius XII as "an enemy of the People" who had supported Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. When their attempt to "convert" me to their ideology failed, they found an excuse to end the rental agreement and I had to start again looking for living quarters in the bombed-out city of Essen.
2.) The very same year I visited Rome where I stayed as a guest of the Trappist monastery Tre Fontane on the outskirts of the city. In the center of one of the courtyards I noticed an obilisk with many obviously Jewish names carved into the pedestal and all the way to the top of the structure. The monk in charge of the guests explained to me that these people were the Jews who at the request of the Pope had found shelter in the monastary during the war. Most of them had later immigrated to the USA. They had sent the monument as a token of their appreciation . With a twinkle in his eye the monk added: "Would've been nice if they had also sent some money."

This "archeological" piece of evidence confirms the facts related in "Consensus & Controversy." The immediate experience of witnesses will add a basis of validity to the understanding of a period which should never be neglected by later historians. Sister Marchione quotes Golda Meir and many other Jews whose testimonies fulfill this requirement....P> that condemn Pius XII are deeply disturbing"


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