Pope Pius Xii's Neutrality Essay

2028 words - 8 pages

Is it possible for a Pope to be infallible? When one looks at events, such as the Holocaust, the answer of this question becomes twofold. Were Pope Pius XII’s actions an attempt to save the Catholic Church from persecutions or were they a lack of understanding of Hitler’s ethnic cleansing? Nearly six million Jews were slaughtered during the Holocaust, and when the world became aware of the mass murders that were taking place in Europe, World War II became a moral obligation rather than a fight for power. The Allied powers, Nazi resistance group, and even some Catholic groups invaded Germany to not only save Jews, but also to force the Nazis out of power in Germany. Surprisingly, the Vatican did not assist these resistance groups. Pope Pius XII neglected to help Jewish Holocaust victims and cowardly ignored the moral issue in order to remain neutral, avoid conflict in the war, and avoid the persecution of more Catholics.
Since Pope Pius XI was in power, the Church was pro-neutrality. In 1930, Pope Pius XI appointed Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, as Secretary of State of the Holy See. Pacelli assisted Pius XI in writing encyclicals, dealing with diplomatic matters, and handling international affairs (Sanchez 16). In fact, Pius XI even selected Cardinal Pacelli to agree to the Reich Concordat of 1933 — an agreement signed by Cardinal Pacelli and Herr Franz von Papen, the Vice-Chancellor of the German Reich — on his behalf. This agreement allowed the Pope to impose laws on the German clergy and ensure the freedom of German Catholic dioceses, schools, religious Orders, congregations and parishes (Concordat). The German Reich agreed to these terms so long as the papacy encouraged the demolition of the Catholic Center Party, also known as the BVP (Concordat). In 1933, the Nazi Party had two hundred and eighty eight seats in Parliament, the Social Democratic Party had one hundred and twenty seats and the BVP had ninety three seats. If the BVP could be diminished, the Nazi Party would be able to grow and eventually gain complete control of Germany.
By 1937, the German government violated the Reich Concordat of 1933. Pius XI, with help from Cardinal Michael Faulhaber and editing by Pacelli, wrote Mit Brennender Sorge, an encyclical read to all German churches on Palm Sunday of 1937 in response to the German violations (Sanchez 17). This encyclical objected to the German government abuse of the Reich Concordat and criticized the Nazi doctrines of “racism and statism” (Mit Brennender). There were no further actions made regarding Germany’s infraction of the agreement.
Two years later and just before the outbreak of World War II, in February 1939, Pope Pius XI died. Cardinal Pacelli was then elected Pope and became Pope Pius XII. Due to his previous anti-Nazi ideals, the future Allied powers were confident that Pius XII would fully support their part in WWII; however, Pope Pius XII would remain neutral throughout the...

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