Correcting Cornwell Again…

Catholic Truth blogger, Athanasius, submitted the following letter to the Catholic Herald, in an attempt to correct yet another attack on Pope Pius XII by the pseudo-journalist John Cornwell. We’ve discussed his writings in the past here
When you’ve read the letter, please vote in the poll to tell us whether you think the Editor of the Catholic Herald published this letter or not. Then share your thoughts on why – against all the evidence to the contrary – John Cornwell continues to defend his unconscionable attacks on Pope Pius XII…

Letter from Martin Blackshaw, aka Athanasius…

In an attempted rebuttal of Fr. Leo Chamberlain’s observation that “Hitler’s Pope” received warm reviews in the liberal press, as opposed to harsh reviews from knowledgeable experts, John Cornwell offered Professors Owen Chadwick, Paul Preston, Denis Mack Smith and Saul Friedländer as “academic specialists on the period” who praised his book (Letters, March 17).

The problem with this defence is that all of the aforementioned are left-leaning, non-Catholic revisionist historians who have little regard for the Catholic Church. Indeed, Friedländer abandoned Catholicism to become a leading left wing Zionist in Israel.

Mr. Cornwell then went on to describe the Reichskonkordat as “the international treaty negotiated by Pacelli and Hitler in the summer of 1933”.

In fact, the concordat in question was negotiated by Cardinal Pacelli, representing the Holy See, and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, on behalf of President von Hindenburg and the German government. Hitler’s signature is not on the agreement and neither he nor his Nazi Party are mentioned in it. This is very important to note as it demonstrates how Mr. Cornwell slants his presentation of events.

In a further misrepresentation he proposes that the Reichskonkordat was agreed to by the Nazis on the understanding that the Catholic Centre Party would be abolished, but only after it had voted in favour of the Enabling Act that handed Hitler his dictatorship.

In response to this common revisionist error, historian Michael Phayer writes: “the view that the Concordat was the result of a deal that delivered the parliamentary vote of the Catholic Centre Party to Hitler, thereby giving him dictatorial power (the Enabling Act of March 1933)…. is historically inaccurate”. (The Catholic Church and the Holocaust (1930–1965), 2000, p. 18).

In truth, there is not a shred of historical evidence supporting a link between the Enabling Act of March 1933 and the Reichskonkordat signed on July 20 of the same year.

Hitler’s dictatorship was actually sealed in February 1933 with the ‘Reichstag Fire Decree’. From that date it was only a matter of time before he intimidated his way to full control of the Reich. The dissolution of opposition political parties was well underway by then and the Catholic Centre Party knew its days were numbered.

The Nazis were viciously anti-Christian, as well as anti-Jewish. Cardinal Pacelli knew this and acted “with a gun at his head”, as he put it to one British journalist, to preserve the Church in Germany as best he could under the circumstances. One of Germany’s leading Cardinals of the time, Cardinal Faulhaber, concurred when he declared “With the concordat we are hanged, without the concordat we are hanged, drawn and quartered”.

History vindicates both Churchmen in that by the end of the war Dachau concentration camp held so many imprisoned catholic clergy that it had its own barracks. Others were not so fortunate; those many priests and religious who were murdered when their churches, monasteries and convents were ransacked and desecrated by the Nazis.

The trouble with revisionists like John Cornwell is that they are unable to distinguish between martyrdom and suicide. It seems they also have difficulty in separating truth from falsehood.

I still remember the consternation of Fr. Peter Gumpel, vice postulator of the cause of Pius XII, during a telephone conversation I had with him when Hitler’s Pope was first published. According to Fr. Gumpel, John Cornwell lied when he said he had been given privileged access to secret Vatican archives on Eugenio Pacelli that shocked him and prompted him to write Hitler’s Pope.

The truth is he was only granted access to publicly available archive information that covered the period 1912 – 1922. There is no mention in those documents of Hitler or the Nazis.

I don’t know about anyone else but that revelation of Fr. Gumpel tells me all I need to know about Hitler’s Pope and its author. END.