What was the Vatican/Catholic/Pope response to the Holocaust?

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The Vatican is usually criticized for its silence during the holocaust, but there is more to their perceived inaction during the 1940’s.

Early on, Pope Pious XII did very little in opposition to the violence of Kristallnact despite receiving regular reports from his German underlings, but he did obtain 3,000 Brazilian visas for Jews wishing to escape. They had to have converted to Catholicism, but it was something.

During the holocaust he was continually begged by Jews for help. His agents in both Spain and Lithuania asked repeatedly for the Vatican to intercede, but they did nothing.

When the Vatican received word of the murders, they refused to take action or even make a statement in opposition. This was in 1942 when every allied government had done so.

One interesting fact that plays in the pope’s favor is that he helped hide thousands of Jews during the darkest hours of the Holocaust.


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