Following up on my recent critique of Kevin Madigan’s unfortunate attack against Pius XII in Commentary magazine (December, 2011), Professor Ronald Rychlak has just published an even more thorough refutation, entitled, “Shoddy Scholarship in the Study of Pope Pius XII,” (available online here), which cites primary sources and other key evidence to disprove Madigan’s accusations against Pius XII, involving Nazi war criminals and other alleged offenses.
Madigan’s piece for Commentary was irresponsible, but its appearance should not obscure the magazine’s long record of publishing thoughtful pieces on Jewish-Catholic relations by such eminent scholars as Will Herberg and Leon Poliakov; and of fighting anti-Catholic bigotry. As recently as 2008, Commentary’s blog paid tribute to Dietrich von Hildebrand, the great anti-Nazi Catholic philosopher, who was a close friend and supporter of Pius XII. One hopes the magazine will return to that tradition soon.
A voice of integrity in this regard was the late Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg. In 1964, following the debut of Rolf Hochhuth’s anti-Pius play, The Deputy, Justice Goldberg gave a talk in which he affirmed: “I am one who, having read the full text of Rolf Hochhuth’s controversial play, ‘The Deputy,’ and who having lived through those terrible days, believe that the dramatist did not do justice to that great and good Pontiff, Pope Pius XII. Jews are and should be grateful for what the Pope and the Catholic Church did to rescue innocent Jewish victims of Nazi insanity and barbarism.” (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Daily News Bulletin, April 6, 1964).
Not long after he gave that address, Justice Goldberg gave up his seat on the Supreme Court to become the United States representative at the United Nations, and then became president of the American Jewish Committee—the original founder and publisher of Commentary magazine.
Goldberg was not just trying to be nice and defuse a controversy; he had solid history to back him up. From prize-winning historians like Michael Burleigh and Sir Martin Gilbert to leading scholars in Germany, Pius XII’s achievements continue to be recognized, and this despite polemicists who distort or deny his impressive record.