"Righteous Gentile" is the honorary appellation given by Jews to those gentiles who worked to save Jews during the Holocaust. In his just published book, The Myth of Hitler's Pope (Regnery, 2005), Rabbi David G. Dalin, a professor at Ave Maria University, provides the detailed and documented evidence demonstrating that Pope Pius XII, who was pope from 1939 to 1958, directly took action that saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
One of many of Pius's Jewish defenders quoted in the book is "Israeli historian and diplomat Pinchas Lapide, who had been the Israeli consul in Milan and had spoken with many Italian Jewish Holocaust survivors" (pp. 10-11). According to Lapide's extensive historical analysis, Pius XII "was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands" (p. 11). Whatever the exact number, Rabbi Dalin's sources all point to the fact that Pius XII's efforts saved hundreds of thousands of Jews, most notably in Italy, Hungary, and Slovakia (see pp. 92-99). Most dramatically, the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo sheltered as many as 3,000 Jews (pp. 92-93).
How did Pius XII do it? He made Catholic facilities in Rome and the rest of Italy available to shelter Jews, including, as just noted, Castel Gandolfo, but also the Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the Vatican itself (pp. 82-83). He sent financial contributions to aid persecuted Jews (pp. 89-90, 95-96). He sent handwritten letters directing papal diplomats in the Nazi occupied countries to intervene in support of the Jews (p. 88). He gave "direct face-to-face orders to rescue Jews" (p. 91).
And he was not silent in public. He spoke out against the racist ideology of the Nazis both before and after he became pope (pp. 63-67, 73-77). There is dramatic proof that Pius XII's anti-Nazi views were known far and wide: the Allies dropped 88,000 copies of Pius XII's first encyclical over Germany because the encyclical rejected Nazism (p. 73), and Hitler himself planned the kidnapping of Pius XII because the Pope had condemned the Nazi persecution of the Jews (pp. 13, 76-77). Hitler and the Nazis knew all too well that Pius XII was on the side of the Jews. Pius XII was neither neutral nor silent. And certainly he did not favor the Nazis.
The book is full of tributes to Pius XII's defense of the Jews from Jewish leaders (pp. 99-103), from the media, including the sorely missed New York Times of another era (see, for example, pp. 74-75), and from those who worked with the Pope to aid the Jews. Those closest in time and place to the events of those terrible years testify to the persistent pro-Jewish activities of Pius XII. Yet, today, there is a cottage industry by persons who were never there, abetted by the liberal media, including the discredited version of the New York Times of this era, that argues the direct opposite in the face of overwhelming, specific, and documented credible evidence. Rabbi Dalin again and again refutes and confronts the slanders made against Pius XII.
In the face of so much evidence from so many credible witnesses and historians, why is there now a frenzied crusade to slander Pius XII? And, even worse, why do so many suspend their common sense and accept such slanders at face value? Rabbi Dalin hits the nail on the head when he points to another agenda completely unrelated to the actual history of the Holocaust: the undermining of current papal authority because of the intense, emotional hatred of traditional Catholic teaching, especially on sexual matters, on abortion, and on priestly ordination (see pp. 2-10).
What we have is a virulently anti-Catholic pseudo-intellectual group of writers, many of whom falsely claim to be Catholic, who are so consumed by their emotional hatred of the papacy and Catholicism that they see demons where none exist. Their shoddy work has been embraced by the liberal mainstream media because the shoddy work advances the morally relativistic, pro-abortion agenda of the same mainstream media. Ironically, both the pseudo-intellectual hacks who produce these slanders on Pius XII and the liberal media in fact practice the Nazi propaganda tactic of using repetitive lying to deceive the public into thinking that what never happened did happen and that what really did happen never happened.
Another great irony is that some of the same attackers of Pius XII and large segments of the liberal media practice their own version of functional anti-Semitism today by refusing to point out and hold Islamic nations of the Middle East responsible for the widespread dissemination of anti-Jewish rhetoric and slanders in books, media, and schools (see pp. 141-45, 156-59). Leftists consider it fashionable to bash Israel at every turn, but turn a blind eye toward anti-Israeli excesses as somehow justified. Instead of pointing courageously to the real--and very threatening--sources of anti-Semitism today, anti-papal writers have decided to concoct false charges against Pius XII and the Catholic Church as a whole in pursuit of an anti-papal agenda. To their intellectual and moral shame, those who reject the traditional moral and theological teachings of the Church are only too eager to suspend any critical judgment in order to see the papacy discredited, while giving a pass to the real sources of anti-Semitism and terror today. Fortunately, Rabbi Dalin has documented the evidence that, to borrow a phrase from another writer, "demands a verdict" from those who are intellectually honest. The evidence also calls for apologies from many who have so eagerly embraced the calumnies against Pius XII and the Catholic Church.