Pope Francis defends Pius XIIs wartime record

Pope Francis defended Pius XII’s record during World War II, calling the former pope “the great defender of the Jews.”

In an interview last week with Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper, the pope said Pius hid many Jews in convents and even his own residence, including 42 babies born in the pope’s “own bed.”

“I don’t want to say that Pius XII did not make any mistakes — I myself make many — but one needs to see his role in the context of the time,” Francis said.

The interview was reprinted in English translation on the Patheos blog.

Critics have long accused Pius of not having done enough to help Jews during the Holocaust, while the Vatican has asserted he worked behind the scenes to save Jews.

The Vatican has kept its archives from the Nazi era closed to researchers, but Francis has said he will open them. Pius XII was declared “venerable” and put on the path to sainthood in 2009.

The pope also noted the failures of the Allied powers to act more forcefully during the Holocaust.

“I also want to say that sometimes I get ‘existential hives’ when I see that everyone takes it out against the Church and Pius XII, and they forget the great powers,” Francis said.  — jta