The Pope, Christmas, and the “Fake News” about Hitler

By George J. Marlin, December 15, 2016

In his December 24, 1940 Christmas radio address to “the city and the world,” Pope Pius XII condemned Nazi Germany for its “illegal use of destructive forces against noncombatants, fugitives, the elderly and children; a contempt for human dignity, freedom and life that gives rise to actions that cry out for vengeance before God.…”

A New York Times editorial on Christmas Day acknowledged that the Pope’s “moral order, in a word is in complete contradiction to Hitler’s order.”

One year later, the Holy Father’s Christmas address to the College of Cardinals denounced the Nazis for violation of rights of minorities. There can be no place, he said, for “(1) open or subtle oppression of the cultural and language characteristics of national minorities; (2) contradiction of their economic capacities; (3) limitations or abolition of their natural fecundity.”

And once again the New York Times’ Christmas Day editorial not only applauded the pope’s statement but declared, “The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas. . . .[He] is about the only ruler left on the continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all. . . .[H]e left no doubt that the Nazis aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christian peace.”

In his 1942 Christmas address, he affirmed: “the Church would be untrue to herself, she would have ceased to be a mother, if she were deaf to the cries of suffering children which reach her ears from every class of the human family.” He also demanded that the opponents of the Nazis make “a solemn vow never to rest until valiant souls of every people and every nation arise in their legions, resolve to bring society back to its immovable center of gravity in the Divine Law, and to devote themselves to the service of the human person and of a divinely and noble human society.” This vow, he concluded, must be made in the name of the war victims, “the hundreds of thousands who through no fault of their own, and solely because of their nation or race, have been condemned to death or progressive extinction.”

Once again the Times editorial board praised the pope: “No Christmas sermon reaches a large larger congregation than the message Pope Pius XII addresses to a war-torn world at this season. This Christmas, more than ever, he is a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent. The pulpit whence he speaks is more than ever like the rock on which the Church was founded, a tiny island lashed and surrounded by a sea at war.”

The editorial also pointed out that the pope is not a political leader but “a preacher ordained to stand above the battle, tied impartially. . .to all people and willing to collaborate in any new order which will bring a just peace.” And concluded, “Pope Pius expresses as passionately as any leader on our side war aims of the struggle for freedom when he says that those who aim at building a new world must fight for free choice of government and religious order.”

What you have just read is not “fake news.” The fact is, the Church was an unrelenting foe of Hitler. It’s the anti-Catholic propaganda, coming first from the Soviets and more recently from intellectuals, that is fake.


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George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is an editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen and the author of The American Catholic Voter, and Narcissist Nation: Reflections of a Blue-State Conservative. His most recent book is Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy.