Catholics and Jews pan film defending wartime Pope Pius XII

Tue Mar 3, 2015 11:08am EST
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A new Italian film that attempts to defend wartime Pope Pius XII against accusations he turned a blind eye to the Holocaust has been panned by the Vatican as well as Catholic and Jewish media.

"Shades of Truth" is the account of a fictional present-day American journalist who starts off as a critic of Pius and changes his mind after research in Israel, Rome and elsewhere in Europe.

Some Jews have accused Pius, who headed the Roman Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, of failing to use his position to bring attention to the extermination of Jews.

The Vatican says he worked actively behind the scenes to save thousands of Jews and did not speak out more forcefully for fear his words could have led to more deaths of both Jews and Christians at the hands of the Nazis.

After a screening on Monday near the Vatican, the film, which calls Pius "the most misunderstood person of the 20th century", was universally panned.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said the film, which its director Liana Marabini wants to show at the Cannes festival this year, was "naive", "lacking credibility" and a "frankly clumsy attempt" at defending the wartime pontiff.

The Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana said the film would hurt Pius's already fragile reputation because it was overly apologetic and not sufficiently based on historical documents that defend him.

Pagine Ebraiche, the online paper of Rome's Jewish community, called it "a blundering soap opera of dubious quality, filled with stereotypes".   Continued...

 
Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff, appears in an undated file photo from the archives of Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano.  REUTERS/Osservatore Romano