By Paul O’Shea (auth.)
The papacy of Pius XII (1939-1958) has been a resource of near-constant feedback and debate considering that his demise, relatively due to his alleged silence in the course of the Holocaust. Paul O'Shea examines his little-studied pre-papal existence to illustrate that Pius was once neither an anti-Semitic villain nor a 'lamb with no stain.'
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Extra resources for A Cross Too Heavy: Pope Pius XII and the Jews of Europe
Intellectually, he sympathized with those who suffered, recognizing that they were not the cause of their predicament and thus were in a genuine or licet distress. Emotionally, he sympathized with fellow Catholics maltreated for their faith—a faith he shared along with a worldview in common. But on an emotional level with Jews, and others such as communist partisans, Gypsies, German gay men, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, I believe he felt distressed (sometimes to the point of tears) but he felt compelled to remain publicly neutral and discrete—not because he did not care about them, but because they could not be allowed to distract him and the official Church from the strategies of Catholic preservation, which included supporting the rescue of Jews, and international politics.
Needing to position itself as an entity valid in its own right, the Church claimed for itself the religious language, theology, liturgy, and ethics of Judaism, reinterpreting them through Christian matrices. Not only was Christianity the self-appointed heir to Judaism, but it now claimed to replace the parent faith altogether. Judaism was null and void. All the elements of Christian anti-Judaism were in place in the sacred texts by the end of the first century. It remained to the writers of the Patristic Age to expand and make coherent a body of theological writing that would be translated into law and practice within and without the Church.
All the elements of Christian anti-Judaism were in place in the sacred texts by the end of the first century. It remained to the writers of the Patristic Age to expand and make coherent a body of theological writing that would be translated into law and practice within and without the Church. For Christianity to succeed, Judaism must be seen to have failed. “Despised and Rejected” Christian anti-Judaism grew ever stronger as the infant ekklesia merged into the surrounding Hellenic and Roman cultures.
A Cross Too Heavy: Pope Pius XII and the Jews of Europe by Paul O’Shea (auth.)