A litany of Catholic authors has weighed in on the subject, including Sister Margherita Marchione, a member of the Religious Sisters Filippini. As professor emerita of Italian language and literature at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Sister Marghertia has authored more than 40 books. She lectures widely in both North America and Europe.
Sister Margherita’s extensive writings on Pope Pius XII include the book Consensus and Controversy which gathers documentary and other firsthand evidence to show how Pius XII and the Vatican protected Jews and took initiatives for peace. The Nazis even targeted the pope and called him a “mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.”
In Pope Pius XII: Architect for Peace, Sister Margherita studies Pius XII’s political awareness and skills as he worked during the war for peace. He supported and helped locate prisoners of war and denounced crimes against minorities, especially Jews in wartime Rome.
The author, in the book Yours Is a Precious Witness, traces the role of Pius XII and the Church in aiding many Italians who attempted to rescue Jews from capture by the Nazis by opening the doors of convents, monasteries and papal buildings where many were protected.
Her latest work is Shepherd of Souls: A Pictorial Life of Pius XII. This volume contains over 250 historic photographs, sketches and documents portraying the life and works of the pope. It captures his role as spiritual leader of the Church and celebrates his numerous accomplishments.
Eugene Fisher, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, also recommends a short book by Jose Sanchez called Pius XII and the Holocaust. Fisher says Sanchez “has the rare ability to cut to the heart of complex questions in a highly readable fashion without sacrificing the historical nuances and ambiguities that make up real life, then and now.
“The reader learns to appreciate the cruelty of the choices almost daily thrust upon Pope Pius, a decent man who was charged with a sacred obligation to preserve the Church in a time of regnant evil and who wished at the same time to help as many of the millions of suffering human beings as possible,” Fisher says.
Sister Margherita recently took her defense of Pius XII to a new level. She initiated a petition drive that will ask Pope John Paul II to beatify Pius XII. The petition reads, in part: “Pius XII’s virtuous life speaks for itself and is supported by an abundance of incontestable documentary evidence. The truth regarding his service to the Church and the world, as a diplomat and during his pontificate, prior to and through the World War II period, is also historically established.”
Sister Margherita argues that Pius XII has been the victim of a “smear campaign” for 50 years. She says that overwhelming evidence proves that the pope labored tirelessly for peace and constantly warned the world about the horrors of Nazism and Communism. To obtain a copy of the petition, email Sister Margherita at: Sr.Margherita.Marchione@ATT.Net or call 973-538-2886.
(Michael F. Flach is editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald. This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)