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The publicity that Cornwell’s book received overshadowed J. Michael Phayer’s The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, which appeared about a year later. In his review, the Rev. John Jay Hughes finds that Phayer’s book, which rejects the extremism of Cornwell and Hochhuth, is deficient in numerous areas. In his 1942 Christmas message, the pope made a brief, but direct reference to the Holocaust. “In reality, no one, certainly not the Germans, took it as a protest against their slaughter of the Jews,” Phayer writes. According to Father Hughes, Phayer conveniently neglects to mention a report by the Reich Central Security Office (RHSA), which described the pope’s address as “one long attack on everything we stand for. Here is he clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews.” Although this report appears in several secondary sources, none of the aforementioned critics bother to mention it.
IN HIS REVIEW, NEW YORK super-attorney Kevin M. Doyle examines Passelceq and Suchecky’s The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI. In June 1938, the ailing Pope Pius XI commissioned three Jesuits to draw up an encyclical that would condemn racism and anti-Semitism. The authors assert that the final draft of the encyclical was delivered to the pope a short time before his death on February 10, 1939. The encyclical was never published, which the authors believe prevented the Church from adequately opposing the Nazis’ anti-Semitism. Doyle faults the authors for engaging in constant speculation and raising unproven suspicions against Pius XII and other Vatican officials in trying to determine why the encyclical was never published.
As Doyle points out, this encyclical was not perfect. “[C]riticism, not only of the Church but also of the Allies and Jewish leaders, has too often ignored the moral complexities faced by people of good will who lived and struggled in Hitler’s shadow,” Doyle writes. “The Nazi juggernaut displayed a diabolical genius for retaliation, recrimination, and retribution. While devoid of conscience, it discerned ethical pressure points cleverly enough to ensnare potential resisters in unconscionable dilemmas. To ignore this not only subverts truth but keeps us from today learning from the Holocaust.”
The two co-editors commissioned William Doino, a veteran Catholic journalist, to draw up an annotated bibliography for The Pius War. Doino’s contribution, which takes up more than half of the book, is an extraordinary achievement. He lists and discusses numerous primary and secondary sources. Few books, articles, and even noteworthy letters to the editor escape Doino’s attention. Scholars and journalists will find Doino’s annotated bibliography an important tool for research.p>Many of the anti-Vatican books discussed here and others are quickly becoming obsolete. In February 2003, the Vatican began the process of opening its archives from 1933-1945. Many of the documents that have been gradually emerging from the archives confirm the Vatican’s opposition to Nazism and anti-Semitism. (Doino mentions some of the new documents.) The Pius War will stand the test of time because its contributors have the facts on their side and Pope Pius XII’s tendentious critics don’t. br> /p>
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