Fat Steve's Blatherings

Friday, July 29, 2005

Talk, or Act?


      Glenn Reynolds got a review copy of a book saying that Pope Pius XII saved the lives of many Jews.  Reynolds hadn't heard that before.  But if he'd paid better attention to exactly what the debate was about, he wouldn't be so surprised.

At Length:

      Glenn Reynolds received a copy of a new book, entitled The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis.  The Instapundit comments "it certainly goes against the grain of everything I've heard."

      The dispute about Pius XII illustrates one of the strange facets of today's world: the idea that Talking is morally superior to Acting.  I haven't followed this story in detail, but it seems from what I've read that everyone acknowledges that the Catholic Church did save the lives of thousands of Jews by hiding them from the Nazi death-camp collectors.  Everyone also acknowledges that while he was doing this, Pius XII was not particularly outspoken about the evils of the Nazis and Fascists.

      The pope's partisans point to the lives he saved.  The pope's detractors point to his silence, and say he should have condemned Hitler, publicly and loudly.  The pope's partisans rejoin that if Pius had done this, the Nazis would have cracked down hard on the Church, getting many people, Jews and Catholics alike, killed for nothing.  The pope's detractors sort of dance around on this, but seem to reply (remember, I haven't been following it very much), that Pius should have spoken regardless of the consequences.  Their position seems to be: 'better to speak out and make a record, than to keep quiet and save lives'.

      Me, I can't see the point of condemning Hitler if it would have cost thousands of Jews their lives.  Some people's mileage seems to differ.

      But to return to the original source: the reason Reynolds hasn't heard this before is because the people who have yelled loudest are those who wanted Pius XII to condemn Hitler, and didn't much care about consequences.

      Moral: read very CAREFULLY, and read both sides.



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