Question: Enclosed is an article sent to me by a local Catholic apologist [which gives alleged data re the protection of Jews by Catholics during WWII]. If you have time in your busy schedule please check it out and let us know if it is true or a little overplayed. Thank you.
Response: The article you enclosed paints a biased picture of the alleged pro-Jewishness of Catholics in WWII—truth mixed with error. We have never suggested that no individual Roman Catholic ever helped the Jews. There were indeed many Catholics (acting as individuals apart from their Church) who did all they could, even risked their lives to save Jews; some died as a result. It is also true that Pope Pius XII saved many Jews from death. Yet in comparison to the vast majority of Roman Catholics (many of whom were in the SS, etc.) who joined in the persecution of Jews, those who helped the Jews were a mere handful. Moreover, the Roman Catholic Church did far more against the Jews and in support of the Nazis than in their favor— and the same was true of the Pope, whose failure to act was monumental. We give much of this evidence in A Woman Rides the Beast.
I do not have time to analyze and respond to the entire article, but will give you some examples of its slanted reporting. It declares that “Cardinal Michael Faulhaber... delivered a sermon in defense of biblical Judaism.” That is a half-truth. In Hitler’s Willing Executioners (which documents the involvement of the over-whelming majority of Germans, of whom a high percentage were Catholics, in the persecution of Jews in their towns), Daniel Goldhagen states,
Although Faulhaber defended the Jewish religion and the Jews who lived prior to Jesus, he made it clear that those Jews were to be distinguished from the Jews who lived after Jesus...[including] contemporary Jews. When...foreigners...assert[ed] that Faulhaber had championed German Jews, Faulhaber emphatically denied this. Before and during the Nazi period, Catholic publications, whether written for the laity, clerics, or theologians, disseminated the contemporary antisemitic litany in ways that were often indistinguishable from the Nazis’... (p. 109).
Guenther Lewy’s book, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, documents from secret Nazi records an entirely different picture from the article you enclosed. He confirms the article re Faulhaber’s apparently having provided “a truck for the Chief Rabbi of Munich so that he could save some of the religious objects from his synagogue” (p. 284), but he also cites Faulhaber’s public silence re Kristallnacht and his continued public support of Hitler. Though published by McGraw-Hill, Lewy’s book can hardly be found, having been mysteriously removed from almost every library in the U.S.A.
Aarons and Loftus, in The Secret War Against the Jews, credit Pius XII with probably rescuing “more Jews than all the Allies combined” (p. 140) but add, “Even so, the Vatican’s activities were pitifully small.” The article in question would have one believe that he was the staunch enemy of Hitler and spoke out strongly against the Holocaust, when that is not the case. Aarons and Loftus document Pius XII’s support of Hitler (beginning when, as Cardinal Pacelli, he was Papal Nuncio in Munich), as well as continued Vatican support of Hitler, its reception of huge sums of German marks from the Nazis, that it aided Nazi smuggling of Jewish gold and smuggled tens of thousands of Nazi war criminals to South America along its Rat Lines. No hint of this in the article you sent. The true picture during WWII is not a good one for the Roman Catholic Church—to say nothing of its consistent (with a few exceptions) anti-Semitism and slaughter of Jews down through the centuries.
Sorry that I can’t provide more details, but you could look up the sources I cite, as well as others such as Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, the Nazis and Soviet Intelligence by Aarons and Loftus, who obtained much of their information from secret U.S. intelligence files.