Film defending Pope Pius XII's Holocaust record criticized by Jews and Christians

Pope Pius XII. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( Jews and Christians are criticizing a new Italian film that portrays Pope Pius XII, who held the papacy during the Holocaust, in a more positive light than usual.

Pope Pius XII was known for ignoring the mass atrocities that were committed by the Nazis, and for failing to speak out publicly or to use the influence of his position to try to stop the extermination of Jews and others.

"Shades of Truth,” which has been negatively received by many viewers, recounts the story of a fictional American journalist who begins as a heavy critic of Pius but then changes his mind based on research in Rome, Europe, and Israel.

The current pontiff, Pope Francis, told a Spanish newspaper last year that Pius "has to be seen in the context of that era [in which he was pope].” The Vatican has also claimed that Pius actually worked behind the scenes to save thousands of Jews, but kept silent on the issue publicly, fearing that his words could lead to even more killings by the Nazis.

Yet the Vatican’s own newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said that the new film—which refers to Pius as "the most misunderstood person of the 20th century”—is "naive," "lacking credibility," and a "frankly clumsy attempt" at defending the former pontiff, Reuters reportedPagine Ebraiche, the Rome Jewish community's online newspaper, called the film "a blundering soap opera of dubious quality, filled with stereotypes."

Posted on March 3, 2015 .