Cover image for Hitler, the war, and the pope
Hitler, the war, and the pope
Rychlak, Ronald J.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Columbus, Miss. : Genesis Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
470 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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D810.C6 R95 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Perhaps no modern day leader of the Catholic Church has sparked as much controversy as Pope Pius XII, the bishop of Rome during World War II. Was he a Nazi sympathizer? Or did he vehemently oppose Hitler's regime? The conflicting opinions about Pius XII's wartime performance indicate not only the complexities of the man, the former Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, but also the difficulty in understanding the Hitler era and the inherent conflict between political posturing and pastoral actions.

Author Notes

Ronald J. Rychlak is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This sympathetic portrait of Pope Pius XII serves as a direct rebuttal to John Cornwall's recently published Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII (1999), a scathing indictment of the controversial pontiff's wartime record. After placing the beleaguered pope's actions firmly into historical context, Rychlak concludes that Pius did everything within his limited scope of power to condemn Hitler and to save Jews without endangering even more innocent lives. Although this respectful, painstakingly researched account of an undoubtedly compassionate and well-intentioned holy man mired in incomprehensibly difficult circumstances provides a wealth of thoughtfully outlined rationalizations, it fails in its mission to completely convince doubters that Pius XII could not have taken a more heroic public stand against Nazism. --Margaret Flanagan

Choice Review

John Cornwell's controversial book, Hitler's Pope (CH, Jun'00), serves as the backdrop for these disparate approaches to the question of papal complicity in the Holocaust. Cornwell's condemnation of Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) as Hitler's pawn and as an antisemite follows Rolf Hochhuth's 1964 play The Deputy, which condemned the silence of the pope. Both Phayer (history, Marquette Univ.) and Rychlak (Univ. of Mississippi School of Law) criticize Cornwell's attack on the papacy; Phayer crafts a carefully nuanced argument that recognizes the moral ambiguity of any response--including the pope's--to the horror of the Holocaust. Rychlak, an apologist for the Roman Catholic Church, seeks to defend the reputation of Pope Pius XII. Rychlak's publisher, Our Sunday Visitor, is a Catholic press that pledges (on its Web site ) to "support the teachings of the Church as proclaimed by the Holy Father." These partisan interests obscure what may have been interesting details about the activi ty of Pius XII during WW II. The question is whether the failure to act, speak, and object can be interpreted as acts of complicity. Rychlak argues that had Pius XII objected more strenuously, Hitler would have retaliated with even more violence. But could it have gotten any worse inside the gates of the hell of Auschwitz? By highlighting the suffering of German Catholic priests and bishops without giving adequate attention to the particularity of Jewish suffering, Rychlak seems insensitive to the horror suffered by the Jews during the Holocaust.Phayer acknowledges that Pius XII could not have halted the Holocaust, but that he could have done far more--for example, by disseminating information about the genocide, which the Vatican is known to have had. Phayer speculates that while Pius XII could have been more active, the pope's fixation on diplomatic solutions and his obsession with the threat of communism made him inflexible. Phayer insists that the failures and deficiencies of Pius XII's leadership ought not lead to a simplistic condemnation. He looks carefully at the record of the pope as well as those of bishops, the church, and individual Catholics, and concludes that the record is mixed and complex. This reviewer recommends Phayer's text as the appropriate choice for all libraries having an interest in issues relating to the Holocaust. General readers and undergraduates. P. K. Steinfeld Buena Vista University

Table of Contents

John Cardinal O'ConnorProf. Robert P. George
Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Chapter 1 The Papacy and the Worldp. 1
Chapter 2 Hitler and the Post-War Worldp. 11
Chapter 3 The Spread of Nationalismp. 25
Chapter 4 The Lateran Treatyp. 35
Chapter 5 Hitler's Rise to Powerp. 43
Chapter 6 World Unrestp. 71
Chapter 7 Hitler Battles the Churchesp. 75
Chapter 8 The Violence Spreadsp. 97
Chapter 9 Pre-War Popep. 105
Chapter 10 1939 and the Outbreak of Warp. 115
Chapter 11 1940 And The Nazis Press Onp. 135
Chapter 12 1941 and New Enemiesp. 155
Chapter 13 1942 and The Final Solutionp. 167
Chapter 14 1943 and Turning Tidesp. 181
Chapter 15 1944 and the Allies Invadep. 213
Chapter 16 1945 and the End of Warp. 231
Chapter 17 Post-War Popep. 239
Chapter 18 The Questions and Answersp. 249
Epilogue: Hitler's Popep. 281
Afterwordp. 309
A Note on Citationp. 313
Endnotesp. 315
Bibliographyp. 445
Indexp. 459