New York Times use death of polemical author Robert Katz to attack Pope Pius XII yet again

The New York Times have used the death of the polemical historian and screen writer Robert Katz to dredge up his false claim that Pope Pius XII knew about the planned massacre at the Ardeatine caves, and did nothing.

This is the New York Times introductory paragraph:

‘Robert Katz, an author and screenwriter who incurred the wrath of the Vatican by accusing Pope Pius XII of failing to act to stave off a Nazi massacre of Italians in 1944, died Wednesday in Montevarchi, Italy, northeast of Siena. He was 77.’

This is an alternative introductory paragraph based on the facts of the case:

Robert Katz, a controversial author and screenwriter, who was found guilty by an Italian court of defaming the memory of Pius XII and given a suspended sentence of 14 months in 1974, died Wednesday in Montevarchi, Italy, northeast of Siena. He was 77.’

The introductory paragraph of an article in a newspaper acts both as a hook to interest readers to read the whole piece or as a summary of the journalist’s key message which he wants the reader to go away with. In this case the New York Times introductory paragraph is cynically misleading and seems designed to perpetuate the Big Lie about Pope Pius XII, despite all the contrary historical evidence.

The New York Times article by Bruce Weber buries the details of the court case against Katz much deeper in the article, detached from the introduction by 5 paragraphs.

This is what Weber writes:’

“Death in Rome” (1967) was a reconstruction of the infamous Ardeatine Caves massacre of 1944, when the Nazis, in reprisal for an attack by Italian resistance fighters on a German-speaking police battalion, herded 335 Italian men — prisoners and civilians — to a series of man-made caves on the outskirts of Rome and shot them. In his book, Mr. Katz, citing evidence he later called strong but circumstantial, said that Pope Pius XII had learned of the planned executions 19 hours before they occurred but chose to remain silent, an accusation that was immediately denied by the Vatican.

“This is not a book of history but a polemic in which the special interests of the author are dominant and in conflict with the interests of research and presentation of the facts,” a Vatican spokesman said at the time. (Among documents later released by the Vatican, one indicated that Pius had, in fact, been made aware of the Nazi reprisal, though only five hours before it took place.)

The book was made into a film, ‘Massacre in Rome’ in 1973. The next year, in a legal proceeding initiated by the niece of Pius XII, who had died in 1958, Mr. Katz along with the film’s director, George P. Cosmatos, and producer, Carlo Ponti, were charged with “defaming the memory” of Pius. They were found guilty and given suspended sentences. (Mr. Katz’s was 14 months.) After several appeals and counterappeals, the charges were set aside in 1980 by Italy’s highest court.’

Just to make it clear that Bruce Weber agrees with Katz’s disproven misrepresentation he concludes approvingly:

‘Mr. Katz was never one to shy away from assigning blame in historical events or from drawing other potent conclusions, and his work, though often admired for his research and writing style, also drew fervent objections.’

Protect the Pope comment: Bruce Weber of the New York Times makes his approval and admiration of Katz quite clear, and assures that Katz’s calumnies against Pope Pius XII live on after his death maintaining the poisonous lies around Blessed Pope Pius XII.

Joseph Lichten of the Jewish rights advocacy group, the Anti-Defamation League wrote of Pope Pius’s and the massacre:

In the absence of documentation, therefore, one is left to surmise that the Pontiff intervened personally, as he had on so many earlier occasions, through his nephew Prince Carlo Pacelli or through the General Superior of the Salvatorian Fathers, Father Pancrazio Pfeiffer. Nor should one be surprised that such a supposed intervention had little chance of success; the order had come from Berlin and, moreover, what argument could a papal emissary use in favor of restraint? For the past several months, the Pope had argued that German restraint would ease the tension in Rome. Suddenly, the entire papal strategy had been undermined by the spectacular and tragic liquidation of 33 German soldiers.

5 comments to New York Times use death of polemical author Robert Katz to attack Pope Pius XII yet again

  • Karla

    The New York Times on a regular basis lies about the Catholic Church. I request that no Catholic support this newspaper.

  • ninoinoz

    From your Wikipedia link:

    “On 23 March 1944, a column of German policemen marching through central Rome on Via Rasella was attacked by partisans. The unit targeted by the ambush was the 11th Company, 3rd Battalion, Police Battalion Bozen. This unit was raised from German-speaking natives of the northern Italian province of Bolzano-Bozen in October 1943. Many were veterans of the Italian Army who had served in Russia who had opted to serve in the police rather than serve another tour on the Russian front with the Wehrmacht.”

    So, they were policemen and ex-soldiers, and more precisely ethnically German as they had been (and probably still were) Italian citizens before Bolzano-Bozen was de facto annexed by Germany in 1943.

    The fact that Italian territory itself could be annexed by Germany suggests that Mussolini’s puppet government in the north itself had little influence with Hitler. So what chance the Pope?

  • There’s a good article about the KGB financed attempt to defame Pius XII here:

    That said maybe some modern day bishops particularly in the US could learn a thing or two from Pius XII’s pragmatic policy of trying to maintain some small degree political neutrality in the political arena. You cant say “we maintained political neutrality in the 1930s and 40s” without people wondering why the honourable tradition of party political neutrality is being so enthusiastically abandoned by some today.

    That said I can understand the chagrin of poeple like Archbishop Burke with people like John Kerry for not backing up the Church’s less saleable bits of political agenda while waving his rosary at everyone else etc and it’s a bit harder to separate personalities from political parties in the US Presidential system. Our parliamentary system is often slagged off for its “unelected Prime Ministers” but the plus side of that is it does allow for a better separation of individuals from political parties on matters of personal concience. This prevents such matters getting too party political. It also has spending limit caps for individual MPs and parties which keep the elected representative much more directly accountable to their individual constituency electorates …

    …in theory.

  • LG Gorman

    It is amazing to me that Pacelli, Pius the XII, spent from 1917 until 1958 in prominent positions in the administration of the Church and there is no definitive statement
    one way or the other from his lips or writings that could settle the debate that says he was silent about the plight of the European Jews. Doesn’t that silence say he was silent?
    Pacelli will be declared a saint because the present pope wants him to be, along with John Paul II. Ratzinger will be declared a saint, too. Where is John the XXIII? Paul the VI should have allowed the people to shout their proclamation of his sainthood as we all wanted to back then.

    • Deacon Nick

      Give me strength! Pope John XXIII was declared blessed at the same time as Pius XII. About the actions of Pope Pius XII to save the Jewish people during the war type Pius XII in the search engine of this website.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>