Book Review: The Truth Will Set You Free

The Truth Will Set You Free:  commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII.  Margherita Marchione.  New York : Paulist Press.  144 pages.  Hardback.  January 2009.  ISBN 978-0-8091-0565-6.  $16.95.

5 stars out of 5.

October 9, 2008 was the 50th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Pope Pius XII who was pope from 1939 to 1958.  This book has been written to commemorate this event and to help promote the continuance of Pope Pius’ cause for canonization which has been temporarily halted due to some protests from those who accuse him of being “silent” during the Jewish Holocaust of World War II.  Some people accuse Pope Pius of not doing more to protest what Hitler and others were doing to the Jews and others during World War II.  Sr. Margherita Marchione has made it her life’s work to combat these lies against Pope Pius and to reveal the truth that he did more than any other world leader did during World War II concerning the Holocaust.

Since 1963 with the publishing of Rolf Hochluth’s book The Deputy some people have been creating lies against Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church.  This fictional book accuses the Pope of being anti-Semitic and of being a collaborator with Hitler in the killing of millions of Jews and others during World War II.  Others have picked up on this fiction and expanded on it to meet their own anti-Catholic causes.  Unfortunately some of those behind these fictions are Catholics who according to Marchione are opposed to the Church’s leadership and teachings.  She also shows that those producing these fictions were encouraged by Communism and liberalism.  Marchione and others whom she mentions and notes have combated these fictions over the past few decades, but unfortunately some people have been mislead into thinking that these fictions are true. 

Marchione, in her book, shows that many Jewish organizations and individuals had praised Pope Pius XII for his help in protecting and saving Jews and others.  These included Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel, Albert Einstein and many others who led various Jewish organizations.  Many had thanked him while he was alive and many showed their appreciation upon his death.  Now some these organizations and their present-day leaders now believe the lies against him and are opposed to his canonization and his inclusion as a “Righteous Gentile” at the Holocaust Memorial in Israel.  As Marchione probably would agree, those who were leaders of the Jews during the time of Pius XII would most likely be horribly surprised by their successors.

Marchione, as she has done in previous books in defense of Pope Pius, presents the evidence of the truth of Pius’ heroic deeds of working to save as many Jews and others as possible.  Many as she shows have testified to what was done to save lives.  Many of those who have been declared Righteous Gentile have said they acted on orders or in concert with the Pope.  Many survivors have said they were saved through the help that the Pope through the clergy, religious and laity of the Catholic Church provided them at the risk of their lives.  Some of those who did help Jews and others were caught and killed by the Nazis.  Even though the process for the canonization of Pope Pius has been halted in order to provide more time to review more documents from the Vatican’s Archives and other sources, Marchione and others are convinced that these materials will only re-enforce what is already known and maybe even make a stronger case for his canonization and his cause to be declared a Righteous Gentile.

Robert Moynihan, the editor of the magazine Inside the Vatican provides the preface to this book.  He is quite blunt about his support for the work of Sr. Margherita Marchione and others.  He also lists those who are supporters of the cause of Pope Pius.  Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, provides the foreword for this book and is known as a major supporter of Pius’ cause which holds a lot of prestige since he is somewhat the number two person in the Catholic Church after the Pope.  There are black and white photos of Pope Pius and of events from his pontificate.  A bibliography and an index are provided.

Marchione at times repeats facts through out the book which she does in her previous books which to some may seem redundant, but it is an educational method to help the reader or learner to remember certain facts.  In this case it works.  She reminds the reader what the pope did and what those who thanked him for his help said.  It also helps to refute the lies or as she and others call the “black legend.”  She shows some of what the Pope did and said.  He spoke out through the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, through the Vatican’s ambassadors, through ordinary bishops and clergy in individual countries. He encouraged his diplomatic corps to physically help Jews and others to escape by providing false papers like baptismal certificates and such. He also provided money to help Nazi victims to escape.  Many of the things the Pope ordered were done in secret and some of these things he did or ordered have been known, but some are still coming to light.  As the New York Times said Pope Pius XII was the one world leader who was doing the most for Jews and others by word and deed.  He spoke out against the Nazis in a way that the Nazis understood which Marchione shows were documented in Nazi records.   They called him the “Jews’ mouthpiece” and other names.

Pope Pius XII should be canonized and eventually will be.  The evidence as it now stands shows his holiness and heroism.  He will one day be declared a Righteous Gentile too.  The truth will be revealed and Marchione has been involved in doing this.

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