The BBC repeats the slander against Pope Pius XII.
Last night, a report on BBC News on Pope Francis’s visit to Auschwitz claimed that it was a visit motivated by reparation for the Church’s silence during the Holocaust. (The full clip is not available on the BBC website). In fact, the visit was part of the Church’s corporate commitment to remembering the Holocaust so that it may never be repeated — a commitment made by previous popes (see John Allen at Crux).
The idea that the Church was ‘silent’ during the Holocaust is an old canard that has been comprehensively rebutted by historians (see here). There were silent and complicit Catholics — and a few priests and bishops — but the claim cannot be made of the Church as a whole, of the German hierarchy, or of Pius XII in particular.
The following is a reflection by David Lord Alton provoked by the BBC report.
The BBC’s reporter clearly didn’t see the irony of stating that the Catholic Church had remained silent in the face of a genocide only to then describe how Polish Catholics were arrested and killed for sheltering Jews and how Fr Maximilian Kolbe was executed at Auschwitz after taking the place of another prisoner. Why was he in Auschwitz in the first place? He had been arrested for publishing a denunciation of the Nazis in his magazine, Knight, which had a circulation of around one million people. Hardly silence, then.
For a really interesting - and historically accurate - account, read "The Church of Spies."