Sr. Margherita Marchione has written several books on Pope Pius XII and World War II defending the sanctity and cause of the Servant of God Pope Pius XII, whom she says should be canonized and also declared a Righteous Gentile. Through this short, to-the-point volume, she argues why the pope is deserving of these things.
Since the early 1960s, some have questioned the actions of Pope Pius XII during World War II, claiming he was too silent and did not do much or anything to save Jews from the Holocaust. As Marchione shows, this slander originated with the Communists of the Soviet Union, which anti-Catholics and anti-papal Catholics picked up on, and they have used it for their own ends. Some Jewish leaders and organizations praised Pope Pius during his lifetime and at his death for what he did for Jews throughout Europe by citing their own documents and newspaper reports. Nowadays, several Jewish organizations have questioned if the pope had did enough - or even anything - to help the Jews.
Marchione addresses many of the usual questions about Pope Pius’ actions during the War. She says the pope did speak out many times through various ways like Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano (Vatican newspaper) and protested through his nuncios (ambassadors) and through other Church officials. Many times, his speeches and sermons were understood by the Nazis or the Fascists, which led them to become angry and violent. He did not want Jews and others to be harmed if he spoke out: there is documented proof that when he spoke out more, many suffered because of it. There is also documented proof that bishops and others discouraged him from speaking out because the situation for them and others would only get worse if he spoke out - more harm was done than good. Even when the pope spoke out using diplomatic language that was neutral, the Nazis and others understood what he was saying. Hitler and his ilk considered the pope the “Jewish mouth piece.”
Marchione presents people who have testified to the pope helping them either directly or indirectly through nuncios and other priests, religious, and lay people. Many rescuers of Jews and others did not want to be praised for what they did but said the credit should go to Pope Pius XII. Many acted on his orders, and others’ actions were supported by him. Several Catholic Righteous Gentiles have said that more credit should go to the pope than to themselves. This should encourage the Yad Veshem Holocaust Museum in Israel to declare the pope a Righteous Gentile. He did all that he could to save lives. Some considered him the lone voice in Europe that spoke out against the Nazis and their atrocities. He was willing to offer his own life to save others, and this is also documented.
Marchione’s short book (along with a three-page bibliography and an index) accomplishes the task of answering the question the title poses. This book is highly recommended to those interested in Pope Pius XII and World War II.
Sr. Margherita Marcione, Ph.D. is the author of Crusade of Charity: Pius XII and POWs (2006), Shepherd of Souls: a Pictorial Life of Pope Pius XII (2002), Consensus and Controversy: Defending Pius XII (2002), Pius XII: Architect for Peace (1999), Yours Is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy (1997) and of other books and articles.