If you want to hold on to the belief that Pope Pius XII didn’t do enough to save Jews during World War II, go right ahead. Did he do enough? Well, who did besides Winston Churchill and a few others? But this article recognizes the pope for saving thousands of Jews, hiding over 5000 in convents, monasteries and schools in Rome and thousand more in the papal village. A catholic priest of the time, Gaetano Piccinini was just honored post-humously as a righteous Gentile.

Yes, Pope Pius XII like many others hid behind the conviction of “neutrality” in fear of losing more innocents to Hitler’s regime. It is easy for me to judge from afar: He did not do enough. But I am not in the least a scholar on the subject.

Yes, on October 18, 1943, a train left Rome for Auschwitz. That is awful! We remember with broken hearts what happened to so many in Auschwitz. On the other hand, that was apparently the only convoy of Jews sent from Rome during World War II. Is that not good enough? Maybe not. But just maybe, that was the best the pope dare do. Then I think of what the French Militia did to French Jews. They rounded us up and sold us! Then I consider the Bulgarians who refused to sacrifice one single Jew of the 49,000 living in Bulgaria during WWII. What they did is certainly good enough. And how can we ever thank them for such bravery? (See http://bit.ly/jrzNkU)

My mind then focuses on my husband, Max Ciampoli’s experience with the pope during the war. Max, who had been baptized at the Vatican in 1923, was able to get an audience with Pope Pius XII. He asked the pope to help save thousands of Jewish children being held outside of Paris who were destined for the death camps. Max asked him to print thousands of baptismal certificates which he would have delivered to the appropriate dioceses in France to prove that each of these Jewish children was Catholic. Max says the pope agreed without hesitation. (See Chapter 18, The Vatican in Churchill’s Secret Agent and the presentation of the book to Jewish Book Council’s “Network” in May 2011 by the Ciampoli’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RygZ4mpmcH4.)

This was his only encounter with the pope and left him with a very positive feeling about the pontiff.

What now comes to mind is a quote attributed to Herbert Spencer: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Shall we all keep an open mind to new information?  by Linda Ciampoli

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