It is no surprise after your article (1 December) about “Hitler’s Pope”, Pope Pius XII, that Martin Blackshaw (Letters, 2 December) would be swift to apply his revisionist pen to history.
John Cornwell’s book stands as a fair representation of the facts as Cornwell had access to Vatican and Jesuit archives, although of course Catholic apologists have always sought to criticise and condemn it.
I wonder if Mr Blackshaw has read this fascinating book, or indeed the prologue to the revised 2008 edition, in which he states he believes that Pius XII was Hitler’s Pope not because he was anti-Semitic (although he displayed an anti-Jewishness typical of Catholics of the time) and not because he supported Hitler, which he didn’t.
Rather, it was because he was the ideal church leader to serve Hitler’s purpose. That of course may point to faults in the character of the man rather than in his holiness.
It is good news that some more archive is to be opened up, but it remains to be seen if what is found there is an accurate record of what happened. As we have seen with the ongoing child abuse scandal and cover-up, how can we trust the Church’s statements on anything?
National Secular Society
It is ironic that Martin Blackshaw should defend Pius XII against allegedly false accusations of Nazi leanings, but repeat the myth of Hitler’s atheism.
Hitler was raised Catholic, lapsed as an adult, leaned towards Lutheranism for a while, then turned against Christianity when his attempt to unite the Protestant churches failed in 1937.
While his views on Christianity changed over time, his hatred of atheism (which he conflated with Communism) and his belief in a higher power remained constant.
Hitler was not an atheist.