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The original
"Hitler's Pope"

John Cornwell


"The Myth of
Hitler's Pope"

David Dalin


the publisher's description of
Hitler's Pope,
(The Secret History of Pius XII)

In Hitler's Pope, award-winning journalist John Cornwell shows that Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, was instrumental in negotiating an accord that helped the Nazis' rise to unhindered power – and sealed the fate of the Jews in Europe.

Drawing upon secret Vatican and Jesuit archives to which he had unprecedented access, Cornwell tells the full, tragic story of how narcissistic, long-standing personal antipathy for the Jews, and personal and spiritual ambition combined to make Pius XII the most dangerous churchman in history.   Not just a firm and final indictment of Pius XII's papacy, Hitler's Pope is also a searing exploration of its lingering consequences for the Catholic Church today."

Other noteworthy reviews :

James Carroll, the author of the outstanding book on the history of his Roman Catholic Church, "Constantine's Sword" wrote the following lengthy review, in 1999:   http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99oct/9910pope.htm

  1. Washington Post :

    "The shocking untold the story of Pope Pius XII that redefines the entire history of the 20th century." .  . .  .

    The title tells the tale. And a chilling tale it is: Eugenio Pacelli, then the Vatican's all-powerful secretary of state, made it possible for Adolf Hitler to achieve total power in Germany and, as Pope Pius XII, went on to appease him, maintaining inexplicable public silence as the Nazis destroyed and massacred millions of European Jews before and during World War II. In other words, the pro-Germany and "anti-Judaic" Pacelli-who had spent 13 years in Munich and Berlin as papal nuncio - bears, according to this most important book, awesome personal responsibility for the evil of Hitler ... and the Holocaust. Had Pius XII publicly condemned Hitler's acts - and even top Germany military commanders in Italy secretly urged him to do so toward the end of the war - many millions of lives might have been saved. The conclusions and revelations presented by John Cornwell in his meticulously researched Hitler's Pope, many of them based on materials from heretofore closed Vatican, Italians, German, British, and French archives and other unimpeachable sources, leave no doubt that Eugenio Pacelli was the Fuëhrer's best imaginable ally."

  2. The Wall Street Journal :

    "John Cornwell, a meticulous Catholic historian and journalist, has had access to previously unpublished Vatican documents.  .  .   [he makes] a sophisticated and surprising argument, but one that does help make sense of some of Pius XII's behavior."

  3. Rev. John F. Morley, Commonweal (Catholic Commentary) :

    "A book that cannot, and should not, be ignored.   Every point that Cornwell raises – whether it is Pacelli's early career, his concordat negotiations, his spirituality and approach to the world, his refusal to ever explicitly criticize Nazi Germany, and his reaction to the Holocaust – is a matter of crucial concern to Catholics.  .  .   Cornwell's final words are judgmental but also challenging and inviting.   His frankness may antagonize some, but I detect in this book an honesty and an angst that should not be overlooked."

  4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution :

    "This fascinating book would be a lightning rod at any time [but] this bid for Pius XII's sainthood is creating outrage in the Jewish community and among a large number of Catholics as well.   Cornwell's meticulous and principled scholarship is a significant contribution to a painful debate."

  5. Michael Parkenham, The Baltimore Sun :
            "If anything, given the hideous consequences of the Holocaust and the culpability of millions of people who did not fight against it, Cornwell is circumscribed and methodical .  .  .   His tracing of the late 19th – and early 20th – century political, ethnic, and ecclesiastical history in Europe and Rome is detailed, intricate, and fascinating .  .  .   There is an argument for not caring; what's done is done and finished.  Since history cannot be amended, it does not matter.  That argument is unacceptable .  .  .   Ignorance by choice is culpability with malice aforethought.  Read this book"

  6. The Philadelphia Inquirer :

    "A devastating indictment of Pius as guilty of moral treachery so great that it defames his papacy and should deny his elevation to sainthood .  .  .   Cornwell, a Cambridge University scholar and prominent British journalist, gives us an account that is unsparing, though temperate and largely dispassionate.  He has fresh sources, including the records of Archbishop Pacelli during his long tenure from 1917 to 1929 as Pope Pius XI's ambassador (or Nuncio) to Germany: correspondence from the British envoy to the Vatican; and key Jesuit archives."

  7. Saul Friedlander, Lot Angeles Times :

    "As Cornwell brilliantly demonstrates, Pius XII brought the authoritarianism and the centralization of his predecessors to their most extreme stage .  .  .   Nowadays we may not know what as saint should be, but we do know what as saint should not be – a man of narrow spirit and heart, a man who could not find at the very least  'a candid word'  when millions of human beings from all corners of Europe, some of them from under his own windows, were lead to their systematic extermination."

  8. Time (magazine):

    "Scathing .  .  .   It illuminates the previously neglected episodes in the life of this prospective saint, it alerts us to flaws in the received version."

  9. Jason Berry, Chicago Tribune:

    "A ground-breaking narrative .  .  .   It is hard to imagine a more timely book, in light of Pope John Paul II's reaching out to the Jewish community .  .  .   The author exposes of moral myopia in Pacelli that permeated his blundering diplomacy with Hitler .  .  .   The chapter on the roundup and deportation of the Jews overall is particularly heart-rending."

  10. Detroit Free Press:

    "Hitler's Pope reads like a thriller as it takes us through the high-powered negotiations and international crises from an unusual prospective .  .  .   Given the campaign to beatify Pius XII, this meticulous, persuasive and impassioned book is disturbing in its presentation of a profoundly flawed man obsessed with absolute papal authority no matter what the consequences for others."

  11. Jewish Herald Voice:

    " [writing] with academic excellence and literary clarity, Cornwell does more than provide evidence of how Pius cooperated with Hitler.  He reveals the internal political machinations of one of the most powerful religious organizations on the planet, as well as depicting Hitler's 'brilliance' in understanding the dynamics of power."

  12. New York Times :

    "By combining the painstaking research of other scholars with his own new documentation. . .  Cornwell makes a case in Hitler's Pope that is very difficult to refute."

  13. Atlantic Monthy :

    ". . .the first serious and complete biography of Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII. . ."

  14. James Carroll, Atlantic Monthly:

    "A devastating refutation of the claim that this Pope's diplomacy can in any way be characterized as wisdom.  Instead of a portrait of a man worthy of sainthood, Cornwell lays out the story of a narcissistic, power-hungry manipulator who was prepared to lie, to appease and to collaborate in order to accomplish his ecclesiastical purpose – which was not to save lives or even to protect the Catholic Church but, more narrowly, to protect and advance the power of the papacy."

  15. New York Post:
            "A brilliant and serious work of major historical weight.  It is certain to cause shock and outrage, rationalization and denial."
  16. San Francisco Chronicle:

    "Scathing .  .  .   Is the indictment persuasive? Sadly, it is, coming not in the form of a court record but rather as a skilled biography .  .  .   The books middle chapters are a superb lesson in Catholic Church politics .  .  .   Pacelli's subsequent election as pope and the disastrous aftermath for European Jews are thoroughly documented and smoothly written.  As Catholic and Jewish leaders work to build better understanding, knowledge about how and why Pope Pius XII acted as he did make ease the and in the their dialogue."

  17. Houston Chronicle :

    "Hitler is Pope accurately reflects the decline , inside and outside the Catholic Church, of the reputation of Eugenio Pacelli .  .  .   Cornwell's arguments, his detailed grasp of Roman Catholic history and politics and his lucid prose will persuade many readers of the merits of his indictment of Pius XII."

John Cornwell published the following article in Vanity Fair magazine, in 1999:

For a web site that uses some of the best material of this book,
and which lists many other books and sites on this matter,
see CatholicArrogance.Org/RCscandal.html

The Myth of Hitler's Pope

Ray Dubuque's response to


After spending years reading the carefully nuanced scholarship of authors like Cornwell, Carroll, Goldhagen and Lewy, it was a shock to my system to read what passes for professional scholarship in Rabbi Dalin's circle of Conservative Roman Catholic friends.  After doing a little investigating, however, I understood.  I don't know what this Rabbi's prior jobs were, but his current job is teaching at the Domino Pizza-man, Tom Monaghan's, ultra-Conservative Catholic Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, i.e. the "Bob Jones University of Roman Catholicism". That's the one about which Fr. Joseph Fessio, AMU Provost admitted in an October 2006 fundraising letter that "problems" are near "crisis" level at AMU - students are leaving, the institution is unable to attract high-quality paying students, the project is over budget, and "we (AMU) are presently a rather small and unaccredited institution. . ."

While you might imagine that Rabbi Dalin wrote this book to refute what Pius XII's critics have written about this pope's role in the Jewish holocaust, Dalin himself says in this book (I kid you not) : "Very few of the many recent books about Pius XII and the Holocaust are actually about Pius XII and the Holocaust." (p. 2)  This Conservative Rabbi views the criticism of the Catholic Church's role in the Jewish Holocaust as merely a kind of Trojan horse for what Dalin calls "the liberationist agenda".  He writes for example, about the famous Jewish scholar who has written two highly regarded books on the Holocaust, "(Daniel) Goldhagen has become one of many staples for secular leftists whose hatred of Catholicism derives from the Church's opposition to abortion, gay rights, the ordination of women, and the rest of the liberationist agenda."( p. 5 )   That is why Dalin actually devotes fewer than 100 pages of this little book of his to the issue of Pius XII and the Holocaust, and then spends the rest of his efforts on those other "culture war" issues.

Having read most of the books this "Rabbi" is referring to, I have to guess that he is either disgracefully dishonest or that he hasn't bothered to even read the books that he so mischaracterizes.

        At several points on this web site, we contrast what Dalin claims vs. what we argue is the truth.  These can be found by using the [search box] and entering Dalin

The following are examples of the way this "giant of academia" refers to first class scholars with whom he disagrees, followed by examples of Dalin's idea of "scholarship":

  • "Goldhagen's explanation for the Holocaust (in his earlier book, Hitler's Willing Executioners") was remarkably simple and simplistic." . . 
  • In his new book ("A Moral Reckoning"), Goldhagen's historical understanding is, once again, remarkably simple and simplistic.  is irresponsibly dishonest and misleading as well." (p. 3)
  • "Goldhagen doesn't limit his anti-Catholic diatribe to Pius alone.  Goldhagen's irresponsible screed climaxes with an attack on Pope John Paul II."
  • "Goldhagen's book - despite its near utter lack of disinterested scholarship - has carved a permanent niche for itself in the list of anti-Catholic literature." (p. 4)
  • "Hitler's Willing Executioners", Goldhagen's new book ("A Moral Reckoning") is full of factual errors, histerical misrepresentations, . . .  Thus, for example, several of the dates he provides for the establishment of European ghettos are wrong."  (p. 4) (How serious are these "errors", you ask?  According to Dalin, who offers no hint of a source for his corrections, 1555 s/b 1556; 1516 s/b1517; 1460 s/b 1462, etc. )
  • and of course there's what Dalin calls "Cornwell's sloppy scholarship" (p. 6)
  • After characterizing John Cornwell's words as "accusations against the pope (which) seem self-evidently histerical" (sic), the only proof of his charge that Dalin offers is a quote from one of his own allies, who totally mischaracterises Cornwell's views as follows :   "Pacelli is not only solely responsible for the rise and triumph of Hitler in the 1930's, but is also responsible for the outbreak of World War I as well ! . . .Nazi Germany is let off the hook and virtually all of the woes of the twentienth century are laid at the feet of a lone Italian Catholic."   ( page 6)
          Rabbi Dalin seems to have as much trouble with the meaning of the word "histerical" as he does with its spelling.  Rabbi Dalin thinks that the way to get his readers to laugh at Cornwell is to present a preposterous caricature of that author's views; and then accuse Cornwell of being "histerical" !  Maybe his readers will fall for that kind of logic; but I don't think mine would.  And I wouldn't even think of resorting to such tomfoolery!
  • Roman Catholic critics of Cornwell sometimes claim that since publishing this book he has "recanted". What Cornwell himself says about the changes in his perspective is that he has “reconsidered in a minor way the terms in which I phrased the culpability of Pius XII during the war...” and “I would now argue, in the light of the debates and evidence following 'Hitler's Pope', that Pius XII had so little scope of action that it is impossible to judge the motives for his silence during the war, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by the Germans"... and in a more recent interview, “While I believe with many commentators that the pope might have done more to help the plight of the Jews, I now feel, 10 years after the publication of my book, that his scope for action was severely limited and I am prepared to state this."
            But John Corwell has nrver recanted his largely critical opinion of the pope. After every of the instances above, he went on to qualify his apologies with statements such as ... "But even if his prevarications and silences were performed with the best of intentions, he (Pope Pius XII) had an obligation in the postwar period to explain those actions." and “He had an obligation to explain his silence and diplomatic language with regard to the Holocaust after the war, when the pressures were lifted.” and "Nevertheless, due to his ineffectual and diplomatic language in respect of the Nazis and the Jews, I still believe that it was incumbent on him to explain his failure to speak out after the war. This he never did" . . .
  • On page 93, Rabbi Dalin argues with little supporting evidence that during the holocaust the Jews fared best in the Roman Catholic countries.  This flies in the face of the facts.  See http://JesusWouldBeFurious.Org/Catholic/SaviorsofJews.html, where we show that the Jews fared best in decidedly non-Catholic countries, such as Bulgaria and Japan, two Axis allies of Hitler, and in Denmark, where the non-Catholic authorities refused to participate in the persecution of its Jews.
  • One of the main thrusts of Dalin's book is an attempt to shift blame for the Nazi Holocaust, from the Catholic Pope in Rome to the Muslim Mufti in Palestine.

    Alhough the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, may well have been a more willing collaborator of Hitler's than was the Pope, the Mufti wasn't able to provide anywhere near the millions of Catholic collaborators in the many of the Axis nations that the Pope was able to deliver to Hitler .  The one notable exception was the Balkans. But even there, the Muslims were the subordinate partners of the Roman Catholic leadership, which directed the effort to persecute and/or exterminate their Jewish and Serbian Orthodox neighbors.

    See the Holocaust in Catholic Croatia
    and Roman Catholics in Nazi Leadership positions.

I have found several instances of Catholic sites that attempt to defend Pius XII from John Cornwell's charge that he was "Hitler's Pope", on the grounds that Cornwell can't be trustworthy because he confessed at some point to being "a lapsed Catholic for more than 20 years", and that he wrote in a book that human beings are "morally, psychologically and materially better off without a belief in God."

What these Catholic sources fail to point out, however, is that the John Cornwell who published "Hitler's Pope" in 1999 was not the same John Cornwell who made those comments in 1989 & 1993. As he explained in 2005, "These comments you quote are taken from books written many years ago. I began my return to the Church some fourteen years ago (in the early 1990's) after an absence of more than twenty years."

In the interview where he gives that explanation, namely http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47135-2005Jan29.html , he reveals himself as a remarkably conservative Roman Catholic.

Some Catholic apologists dismiss John Cornwell out of hand.  But if he was as incompetent and/or dishonorable as these people claim, then why, in response to the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in September of 1978, after a reign of only thirty-three days did the Vatican choose none other than this same John Cornwell to conduct a new, independent investigation into the true circumstances of the Pope's death?  In the book which resulted from his investigation and for which the Vatican cooperated fully, Cornwell's A Thief in the Night tells the story of his search, including a startling theory about John Paul I's untimely demise – and a chilling and unsurpassed look inside one of the world's oldest, most secretive institutions.

        For much more on "Ave Maria University" check out "Ave Maria University: A Catholic project gone wrong" and
Ave Maria University's strangle-hold on women.
At http://CatholicArrogance.Org/Hitlersfaith.html
I show just how Roman Catholic Adolf Hitler's thinking was.

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