In 1938 Pope Pius XII called a meeting of Bishops from all over the world to discuss what to do about Jewish refugees from Germany. The attendees were all sympathetic to the Jews but instead of doing something practical to help, they offered excuses as to why they could do nothing, with the result that we all know. Actually that is not quite what happened. There was a conference, but it was called by someone in a position to make a real difference (separation of Church and state you see), the secular saint Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America.
In the summer of 1938, delegates from thirty-two countries met at the French resort of Évian. Roosevelt chose not to send a high-level official, such as the secretary of state, to Évian; instead, Myron C. Taylor, a businessman and close friend of Roosevelt's, represented the US at the conference. During the nine-day meeting, delegate after delegate rose to express sympathy for the refugees. But most countries, including the United States and Britain, offered excuses for not letting in more refugees. Responding to Évian, the German government was able to state with great pleasure how "astounding" it was that foreign countries criticized Germany for their treatment of the Jews, but none of them wanted to open the doors to them when "the opportunity offer[ed]."
I only heard about the Évian conference recently. I knew there had been handwringing and inaction by the leaders of the free world but I did not know they had bothered with an international summit to achieve this.
But of course it is the Pope who gets the blame.
Scholars speaking in favour of Venerable Pope Pius XII and his wartime record managed to convince a significant number of people that the Pontiff did the best he could to save Jewish lives from the Holocaust, even if they failed to win over the majority of the audience at a recent lively debate in London…Speaking for the motion were the British historian Viscount John Julius Norwich and UN jurist Geoffrey Robertson. Speaking against were William Doino, a leading expert on Pius XII and his wartime record, and Professor Ronald Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi and also a leading scholar on Pius.
This Rychlak chap is one to watch since,
despite being a defender of Pius XII’s wartime record in saving Jewish lives from the Holocaust, the American law professor at the University of Mississippi was initially skeptical of claims, first disclosed by former Romanian intelligence chief General Ion Mihai Pacepa in 2007, that efforts to blacken Pius’s name were driven by a Soviet plot. Yet after two years of research and regular contact with Pacepa, his perception changed, and he is now convinced that the KGB played a key role in framing Pius XII by promoting The Deputy – Rolf Hochhuth’s 1963 play that gave birth to the "Black Legend" of Pius as a Nazi sympathizer.Zenit carried an interview with Pacepa.
"In KGB jargon, changing the past was called framing," Pacepa explained, "and it was a highly classified disinformation specialty" which were "like mosaics made up of hundreds or even thousands of tiny pieces fitted together. Only a handful of master designers know how the final image will turn out," he said. "I was peripherally involved in changing the past of Pius XII, but at that time, even I did not know what the final image would look like." He gave examples of how such framing operations worked, such as Stalin’s ruthless methods to falsify historical facts to fit into his own plans in the 1930s, and Pacepa’s own disinformation operations as head of Romanian intelligence in the 1970s. He recalled how he successfully managed to hoodwink Western heads of state, intelligence officers and others into believing that Romania’s dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, was an admirable, pro-Western leader when, in fact, "he was a two-bit Dracula." So effective was this disinformation operation that US President Jimmy Carter described Ceausescu as a "great national and international leader" and Queen Elizabeth II granted him a state visit to Britain in 1978. Pacepa defected soon afterwards, revealing the lies to Carter and the Queen. Ceausescu was executed by his own people in 1989, but Pacepa says that few in the West "looked back to speculate about how they had been so misled."Part one of an interview with Pacepa on the National Catholic Register.
Stalin took Pius XII’s encyclical [Orientales omnes ecclesias, on the Ukrainian Catholic Church] as a declaration of war, and he answered as was his wont: framing Pius XII as a Nazi collaborator. On June 3, 1945, Radio Moscow proclaimed that the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Pius XII, had been "Hitler’s Pope," mendaciously insinuating that he had been an ally of the Nazis during World War II. Radio Moscow’s insinuation fell flat as a pancake…The Kremlin’s attempt to frame Pius XII as Hitler’s Pope was rejected by that contemporary generation that had lived through the real history and knew who Pope Pius XII really was. The Kremlin tried again in the 1960s, with the next generation, which had not lived through that history and did not know better. This time it worked.
Part two covers the second, and successful, attempt to smear Pius xii using Rolf Hochhuth's play, The Deputy, to do so.
Critics say that your evidence of a plot has never been corroborated. Is this true?
If by "corroborated" you mean a written order signed by Khrushchev or some KGB-written operational plans for framing Pius XII, my answer is a flat: No. We do not have — and to the best of my knowledge, there is no hope to find — such corroborating evidence for any post-1962 KGB framing or assassination operations abroad, even if the KGB archives are someday really opened…We do not have Khrushchev's written order to the KGB to frame Pius XII. Just as we will never find [current Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s written order to the KGB, now rechristened FSB, to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko, who in 2006 was killed in London with radionuclide polonium-210, which was later identified by the Scotland Yard as having been produced by the Russian government. But we have something else which is as good as corroborating evidence: the KGB’s operational pattern. All intelligence operations, framing included, follow predictable patterns generated by the idiosyncrasies of the perpetrator. Soviet espionage, like the Soviet government, had an unusually strong penchant for patterns.