Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Interview With Sister Margherita Marchione

ROME, OCT. 11, 2006 (Zenit) - Pius XII did an immense amount of work to help victims of World War II, including Jews -- and the archives show that, says a scholar.

Sister Margherita Marchione, of the Religious Teachers Filippini, is a historian and expert on the life of Pius XII. She wrote the recently published "Crusade of Charity: Pius XII and POWs" (Paulist Press).

In Part 2 of this interview with us, Sister Marchione, described her particular interest in Pius XII.

Part 1 appeared Tuesday on Catholic Online.

Q: Pius XII has been accused of being indifferent to the sufferings of the victims of the Nazis. Your book tells a very different story. How did so much misinformation come about?

Sister Marchione: Ignorance of the historical truth is the only answer. How can anyone accuse Pius XII of indifference? My book reveals the truth and proves that Pius XII was not indifferent to the sufferings of the victims of the Nazis.

These [wartime] letters [to the Vatican] express the faith and confidence of families with regard to their loved ones who were prisoners of war or missing in action. Some beg for his blessing, confide in him, ask for food, clothing and financial assistance.

There are many very personal letters: An invalid father begs to see his son before he dies; a young mother thanks His Holiness for clothes she received for her children; a little child asks that her father be present for her first holy Communion; the father of nine children, with the four oldest serving in the army, implores Pius XII's help in a letter dated May 21, 1943: "You can perform a miracle. I know that the other three boys must still make their contribution toward victory; but at least try to have Mario, my son who is a prisoner, come back to us."

Writing in the name of a group of prisoners, one soldier begged His Holiness to contact their families in a letter dated November 22, 1943: "For the past several years we have been away from our country, from our family, from our home. We recall the smile of a mother, the embrace of a father, the kiss of a brother. Some of us long to see a son, whom we have not yet seen; men subjected to all the elements of bad weather dream of an oasis, a little green, a little rest in the midst of so much battle, so much blood, so much chaos, so much death. A funereal shadow envelops humanity, and we are fighting without hope in the midst of so much ruin and devastation."

The 100 letters I included are addressed to Pius XII. He read them and, at times, noted what the response should be in his own handwriting. They are among the 20 million in the Vatican Secret Archives.

Personally and through his representatives, Pius XII employed all the means at his disposal to save Jews and other refugees during World War II.

It should be noted that in every country, the Catholic Church had apostolic delegates who were asked to visit hospitals, prisons and concentration camps in order to report to the Vatican.

As a moral leader and a diplomat, Pius XII was forced to limit his words; he privately took action and, despite insurmountable obstacles, saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from the gas chambers.

Q: Any comments on the canonization process of Pius XII?

Sister Marchione: I understand that the canonization process is proceeding rapidly. Ever since the death of Pius XII, every Pope from John XXIII to Benedict XVI noted his sanctity.

In fact, in his first Christmas message, John XXIII called his predecessor: "Supreme doctor, light of holy mother Church, lover of the divine law."

Q: What do we have to learn from this Pope?

Sister Marchione: Thousands of available documents in the Vatican Secret Archives record the humanitarian work of the Holy See. Pius XII directed the greatest rescue program in the history of the Catholic Church and served as a beacon of hope throughout his pontificate, 1939-1958.

He knew that explicit condemnations would have sabotaged rescue operations and provoked more brutal reprisals. With "diplomacy" rather than "confrontation" he saved hundreds of thousands of Jews and Christians from death in the concentration camps.

He was a moral hero: a man solicitous on behalf of Jews and Gentiles alike who worked tirelessly for peace. Among his many prayers, he wrote "Ten Commandments for Peace." His was a crusade of charity!

The documentation will show convincingly that during the period leading up to, during, and after the Second World War, the Vatican used its moral prestige, limited funds, and extraordinary network of contacts to work consistently for the protection of human life and human dignity.

The humanitarian work of the Vatican was made known in the very words of a Nazi leader, Adolf Eichmann, who was condemned at the Nuremberg Trials. In his memoirs, he clearly states that the Vatican "vigorously protested the arrest of Jews, requesting the interruption of such action; to the contrary, the Pope would denounce it publicly."

Q: What is it about Pius XII that inspires such interest on your part?

Sister Marchione: Undoubtedly my meeting with Pius XII in 1957. I was 17 years old when he became Pope on March 2, 1939. I was a young nun whose order had special connection with the papacy from 1707, when the then Pope Clement XI called our sisters to open schools in Rome.

Like most Catholics of my generation, I revered the new Pope whom everyone described as the "Pope of Peace." My first trip to Italy was in May 1957, as a Columbia University Garibaldi Scholar. Accompanied by his niece, Elena Pacelli, I had the opportunity to meet Pius XII in the Basilica of St. Peter.

His piercing eyes penetrated my soul as we chatted informally. We spoke about my research on the poet Clemente Rebora, about the sisters in the USA, about my family.

I still see this tall, dignified, and ascetic figure, along with his brilliant glance, his loving smile, and animated gestures. He had a magnetic personality full of intelligence and nobility of spirit. When I think of Pius XII, I feel inspired.

Q: What are you doing now to promote the truth about Pius XII?

Sister Marchione: As we approach the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII, October 9, 1958, I have asked Yad Vashem to posthumously recognize and honor him as "Righteous among the nations."

He risked his own life to save Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome. Jews firmly believe in justice and truth. I would also like Yad Vashem to correct the statement below the portrait of Pope Pius XII which is contrary to the truth and is unjust. It must be repudiated.

It says: "Pius XII's reaction toward the killing of Jews during the period of the Holocaust is controversial. In 1933, as the Vatican secretary of state, in order to maintain the rights of the Church in Germany, he signed a concordat with the Nazi regime even at the price of recognizing the racist Nazi regime. When he was elected Pope in 1939, he put aside an encyclical against racism and anti-Semitism prepared by his predecessor."

This statement is false. Pius XII wrote his own encyclical, "Summi Pontificatus," which did deal with racism.

The statement continues: "Although reports about the assassination of Jews reached the Vatican, the Pope did not protest either by speaking out or in writing."

This is not true. Whenever Pius XII spoke out, there was immediate retaliation by the Nazis. There were more than 60 protests!

The text in Yad Vashem says: "In December 1942, he did not participate in the condemnation by members of the allies regarding the killing of Jews. Even when the Jews were being deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the Pope did not intervene."

The Pope did indeed intervene. After that first day, the SS were ordered to stop the deportation of the Jews in Rome.

It adds: "He maintained a neutral position except toward the end of the war when he appealed on behalf of the government of Hungary and of Slovakia. His silence and the absence of directives obliged the clergy in Europe to decide independently how they should behave toward the persecuted Jews."

This is not true. Members of the Church were ordered to protect all refugees and Jews.

If the statement is corrected and Pius XII is declared a "Righteous Gentile" by Yad Vashem in Israel, it would mean that finally the Jews recognize the good that was done by Pius XII in saving hundreds of thousands of Jews as the Jews themselves have testified.

In his introduction to the Eichmann trial, Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner stated on April 17, 1961, "that the Pope himself intervened personally in support of the Jews arrested in Rome."

Some historians continue to ignore the testimony of countless contemporary witnesses. Can historians prove that the charges against Pius XII are false? Truth and justice demand a re-evaluation of the attacks against Pope Pius XII claiming "silence," "moral culpability," or "anti-Semitism." Did Hitler want to kidnap the Pope? The answer is, "Yes."

However, Yad Vashem requires two testimonials from people of Jewish descent who can testify that they were saved, or that they knew Jews -- or heard about Jews -- who were saved by the Pope. Their testimony must be notarized. Perhaps friends of Catholic Online will be able to help locate these testimonials.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Pope, Pius XII's, War, Jews, Marchione

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

Wednesday'a Audience - Gregory of Nyssa on Perfection
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Egyptian kings reigned with weapons from space? New study reveals ...
  • St. Sabina: Saint of the Day for Monday, August 29, 2016
  • Daily Reading for Monday, August 29th, 2016 HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Monday, August 29, 2016
  • The economic problem that could destroy America TODAY HD Video
  • My Winged Messengers
  • Jihad attacks Catholic priest and attempts to detonate suicide bomb ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
17 My child, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11
4 Sing to God, play music to his name, build a road for the Rider of the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1, 7-14
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone to share a meal in ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24
18 What you have come to is nothing known to the senses: not a blazing ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 28th, 2016 Image

St. Augustine of Hippo
August 28: St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers ... Read More