Pius XII file photo [929]

Pius XII

Given NameEugenio
Born2 Mar 1876
Died9 Oct 1958
CountryVatican City


ww2dbaseBorn Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli into a powerful Vatican family, Pope Pius XII became the 260th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on 2 Mar 1939 after a 40-year career with the church. Already well-versed in diplomacy from his experience with the Vatican equivalent of the foreign ministry, including nine years as Cardinal Secretary of State, his papacy was one that was heavily influenced by international politics. Although by no means a proponent of Nazism, he was criticized for his failures to speak out against Nazi atrocities. The first failure came before his papacy when he was accused to persuade his predecessor Pope Pius XI not to speak out against the Nazi Party after Kristallnacht in Nov 1938 where Nazi Party members attacked Jews and destroyed Jewish-owned businesses in Germany and Austria. In 1941, he received Ante Pavelic, leader of a German-sponsored puppet nation in Croatia; though it was a private audience and not a diplomatic one, it reflected Pius XII's personal recognition of the puppet nation that conducted a program that many regarded as genocide. In the same year, when approached by Philippe Pétain of France to determine whether anti-Semitic laws violated church doctrine, Pius XII responded that the church condemned racism but refused to give a specific answer whether anti-Semitic laws forced by Germany upon Vichy France was supported by the church or not. In May 1942, Polish ambassador to the Vatican Kazimierz Papée made a public complaint that the Pope failed to condemn Berlin even though atrocities against the Polish people were made known to the world. Many similar incidences repeated themselves over and over again where the Pope refused to condemn Nazi Germany, insisting that the atrocities against Jews and other groups were rumors, even when respected leaders of the church such as Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (future Pope Paul VI) sent words of the Holocaust to the Vatican. While some speculated that he might not have been well informed of the seriousness of the Holocaust, a 1999 study by the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission concluded that he was aware of many details of the genocide as early as Jan 1941, based upon the study of correspondences to the pope before and during the war. Despite these failures, he did show support for the monarchs of the Low Countries when they were invaded and helped many European Jews to escape to the Americas and Palestine. Despite refusal to public denounce anti-Semitism, he did also privately communicated with various leaders in Europe to plead them not to obey German demands for deportations of Jews. Overall, his reaction to the Holocaust was inconsistent. "At times, he tried to help the Jews and was successful. But these successes only highlight the amount of influence he might have had, if he not chosen to remain silent on so many other occasions."

ww2dbaseAfter the war, Pius XII advocated to pardon all war criminals. He passed away at Castel Gandolfo in 1958.

ww2dbaseSources: Jewish Virtual Library, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jul 2006


Cardinal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) of Vatican City with Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen of Germany during the signing the Reichskonkordat in Rome, Italy, 20 Jul 1933Pope Pius XII, Lemuel Shepherd, and others, Apr 1952

Pius XII Timeline

2 Mar 1876 Pius XII was born in Rome, Italy.
2 Mar 1939 Eugenio Pacelli became the head of the Catholic Church; he took on the papal name Pius XII.
23 Jun 1939 Pope Pius XII reached an agreement with Brazilian President GetĂșlio Vargas for Brazil to issue 3,000 visas to allow non-Aryan Catholics, some of whom were Jews recently converted to Catholicism to escape prosecution, to travel to Brazil. Ultimately, however, only under 1,000 visas would be issued.
24 Dec 1939 Pope Pius XII made a Christmas Eve appeal for peace.
28 Jun 1940 Pope Pius XII offered to be a mediator for the warring powers.
18 Sep 1942 Monsignor Montini, future Pope Paul VI, sent a letter to Pope Pius XII, noting that "the massacres of the Jews reach frightening proportions and forms".
3 Jan 1943 President Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz of the Polish government-in-exile in London, England, United Kingdom urged Pope Pius XII to denounce German atrocities against the Jews.
1 Sep 1943 Pope Pius XII, in a broadcast to the world, made an appeal for peace.
18 Mar 1945 Pope Pius XII denounced Nazi German racist policies.
1 Oct 1945 Pope Pius XII met with Thomas Dodd between 1050 hours and 1130 hours; part of that time was spent discussion the trials of German leaders.
9 Oct 1958 Pius XII passed away.

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More on Pius XII
» Mit Brennender Sorge
» No. 128-133: King LĂ©opold III's Appeal for Peace and Responses
» No. 139-142: Appeal for Peace by Pope Pius XII
» Reichskonkordat

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Pius XII Photo Gallery
Cardinal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) of Vatican City with Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen of Germany during the signing the Reichskonkordat in Rome, Italy, 20 Jul 1933
See all 2 photographs of Pius XII

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