The argument is so illogical that only those who attended graduate school or Catholicism-bashers could find it persuasive. First, how do you condemn the silence of one pope when confronted with the greatest evil of his time and condemn another pope when confronting the greatest evil of his time? Second, if indeed the Church is guilty of condoning evil in the past, why does that render it "hypocritical" (her term for Benedict's condemnation of Islamic violence in God's name) to confront evil in the present? If my grandfather was a murderer, am I a hypocrite for condemning murder?
And as expected, the author of the above-mentioned critique of Pius XII, "Hitler's Pope," John Cornwall, has also condemned Pope Benedict, describing the pope's words about Muhammad and Islamic violence as "incendiary" and "abrasive" (presumably calling Pius XII "Hitler's Pope" is neither incendiary nor abrasive); and writing disparagingly of Benedict "having said that dialogue with Islam was difficult."
The pope could have chosen a better way to warn about Islamic violence in God's name than by citing a Byzantine emperor's sweeping indictment of Muhammad and Islam. But he had the courage to do precisely what the critics of Pius XII bitterly complain Pius XII did not do -- use the power of religion and the prestige of the papacy to focus the world's attention on the greatest evil and greatest outburst of Jew-hatred since the Holocaust.
I have followed the arguments surrounding Pius XII and his behavior during the Holocaust all my life, and as a newly appointed member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, I particularly feel the need to attain clarity on this issue. But the condemnations of Pope Benedict by virtually every major critic of Pius XII lead me to wonder whether the critics really want popes to confront evil or just want popes to think like they do.
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