CROMWELL – “Pius XII was the greatest hero of World War II. He saved more Jews than Roosevelt, Churchill and all the rest of them combined.”
That is the assessment of Gary Krupp, founder and president of Pave the Way Foundation, an organization dedicated to inter-religious dialogue, harmony and tolerance. Mr. Krupp will present the foundation’s groundbreaking research at the 2014 Pope John Paul II Bioethics Lecture on Nov. 13 at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.
“Believe me, I never dreamed I would be defending a man who, when I was growing up, we believed ... was a Nazi sympathizer,” Mr. Krupp told the New York Times in 2010.
Deacon Tom Davis is associate director of the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center at Holy Apostles, the sponsor of Mr. Krupp’s appearance.
“The controversy surrounding the wartime record of Pius XII is one of the great injustices of the 20th century,” said Deacon Davis. The controversy stems from the claim advanced in the 1963 play, “The Deputy,” by Rolf Hochhuth, which portrayed Pope Pius XII as having failed to take action or speak out against the Holocaust.
Mr. Krupp is uniquely qualified to address the issue, according to Deacon Davis. Mr. Krupp’s organization has done much to further affectionate relations between Jews and Catholics, people who share faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and who increasingly share the bonds of friendship.
Pave the Way Foundation has engaged in research around the world, has organized international symposia on Pius XII at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, as well as at the Vatican, and has published unparalleled primary source historical records related to Pius’s record.
Through those and other efforts, Mr. Krupp and Pave the Way Foundation have raised new awareness of the heroic efforts of Pope Pius XII in the face of Hitler’s Nazi Party and Mussolini’s racially psychopathic Fascism.
“I wrote 10 books about Pius XII, but in all these years I never knew how to shake things up for the cause [of his canonization] like this wonderful man, Mr. Krupp,” said Sister Margherita Marchione, a professor emerita at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in the 2010 New York Times story about Mr. Krupp. The story described Sister Margherita as being “widely considered the foremost defender of Pius outside the Vatican.”
In September 2013, Mr. Krupp was interviewed by First Things, the journal of religion, culture and politics.
Concerning the historical datum related to Pius XII, he said: “The debate is over. Those who attack Pius XII still do not have a shred of documented evidence to support their claims. ... Every charge against Pius XII can be proven wrong. ... I once showed a simple PowerPoint presentation of the documents we discovered to 70 students at Yeshiva University. All of the attendees said there was no question but that Pope Pius XII was a hero of the Jewish people, when many of the other religious and political leaders of the time did literally nothing.”
Mr. Krupp has repeatedly pointed out the near-universal praise from Jews, including Albert Einstein, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the World Jewish Congress, after the war. He identifies Hochhuth’s play as a turning point in the world’s opinion of the pope.
It was, as Mr. Krupp claims in a 2009 New York Post opinion piece, “a KGB directed and financed bid to smear Pius, a Soviet disinformation campaign meant to discredit the Catholic Church, which at the time was profoundly anti-Communist.”
The play and its wide promotion distorted public opinion and drove an unjust narrative that lingers to this day – one that amounts to the greatest character assassinations of the 20th-century, Mr. Krupp says.
As examples of Pius’s actions on behalf of Jews, Mr. Krupp points out in a 2009 opinion piece in the Daily News “a secret ‘underground railroad,’ directly ordered by the Pope, sending more than 10,000 Jews to the U.S. via the Dominican Republic. Many countries would not accept Jews, so they were given false baptismal papers to travel as Catholics.”
In addition to Mr. Krupp’s presentation, the event will feature a concert by Asteria (Sylvia Rhyne, soprano; and Eric Redlinger, tenor and lute), which brings to life the love songs of medieval Burgundy through intimate interpretations based on extensive archival research into original sources in Paris, The Hague and Basel, Switzerland.
The concert and lecture are free of charge and open to the public. Asteria’s performance will begin at 6 p.m.; Mr. Krupp will speak at 7; both events will be in Queen of the Apostles Chapel. A reception will follow at St. Peter Hall.
Deacon Davis said that the focus on Pope Pius XII for the annual bioethics lecture at Holy Apostles grew from several allocutions (formal speeches issuing advice or warnings) that Pius delivered in the 1950s on medical-moral topics, which stand as the modern foundation of Catholic bioethical teaching.
“His effort on behalf of persecuted European Jewry during the dark night of Nazi atrocities witnessed to the highest priority Christian bioethics – the defense of human life,” Deacon Davis said.
Information about the lecture and concert is available from Deacon Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.