Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Cross Too Heavy: Pope Pius XII and the Jews of Europe

The papacy of Pius XII (1939-1958) has been a source of near-constant debate and criticism since his death over half a century ago. Powerful myths have arisen around him, and central to them is the dispute surrounding his alleged silence during the years of the Holocaust. In this groundbreaking work, historian Paul O’Shea examines the papacy as well as the little-studied pre-papal life of Eugenio Pacelli in order to illuminate his policies, actions, and statements during the war. Drawing carefully and comprehensively on the historical record, O’Shea convincingly demonstrates that Pius was neither an anti-Semitic villain nor a “lamb without stain.” Ultimately, Pius’s legacy reveals the moral crisis within many parts of the fractured Christian Commonwealth as well as the personal culpability of Pacelli, the man and pope.


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