Franz Mr Vincent Whitehouse
Sir. In his "Faith of our Fathers" article (Feb 1), Gerard Noel compares unfavourably Pius VII's dealing with Napoleon and Pius Xll's with Adolf Hitler. According to his reading of events (backwards, by the way, as he denigrates others doing!) Pius XII persisted in appeasing the Third Reich instead of confronting it head-on, as Pius VII eventually did with Napoleon.
However regrettably, the National Socialist Party was legally elected to government. Vatican diplomatic recognition was therefore unexceptional. All European States acted similarly. Recognition did not equate with appeasement, as Gerard Noel seems confusedly to think.
Efforts to besmirch Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII) concentrate on his alleged wartime record of insensitivity and inertia apropos the persecution of the Jewish People and other ethnic groups, political and social opponents. Well-documented but frequently ignored or downplayed evidence shows the assiduousness with which Pius XII did all he morally and physically could, by diplomatic and clandestine means, to aid and rescue victims of Nazi' policies. Dutch bishops attempting a more radical and confrontational approach, provoked even more deportations.
An "appeaser" Eugenio Pacelli most definitely was not, as Jewish tributes to him, during and after the Second World War. amply testify. It seems left to a Catholic commentator to suggest otherwise.
Yours faithfully, VINCENT WHITEHOUSE London SW 20