I have just foolishly listened to an awful Radio 4 programme on Pius XII narrated by Eamon Duffy. He adopts a soothing scholarly tone but his words are dripping with malice. He interviews and treats with seriousness John Cornwell and though Cornwell climbs down on the specific claims of his book ‘Hitler’s Pope’ the fact that he tells downright lies about Pius XII and his own research in his book is not mentioned. Benedict XV is referred to by Duffy as Pius XII’s ‘Great predecessor’ and his identical policies in the First World War excused and their effect exaggerated (liberals love Benedict XV because he ended Pius X’s anti-Modernist campaign). The fact that no one other than the Soviets accused Pius XII of having failed to condemn Nazism until after the Pope’s death is not mentioned. The fact that Rolf Hochhuth who invented the charge consorts with and defends Holocaust denier in chief David Irving is also not mentioned. Duffy admits that Pius XII was right to suppose that a denunciation of specific war crimes [the nature of which he could not verify at the time] would have led to the death of tens of thousands of people in the Church’s care. He admits that Pius XII thought such a denunciation was a luxury not open to him in conscience. He admits that Pius XII believed he would have had to denounce the Soviet crimes as well and that this would have also led to the revenge killing of tens of thousands. He grudgingly admits that Pius XII denounced Nazi doctrines (though he completely ignores the Encyclical Summi Pontificatus). However, he still goes on to conclude that Pius XII failed as the Vicar of Christ in not denouncing specific Nazi crimes.

Eamon Duffy, though he has a conservative aura because of his liturgical views and his work on the Reformation, is an arch-modernist who denies the divinely instituted character of the Papacy. Like all modernists he loathes Pius XII who represents everything they believe to have been overthrown by the spirit of Vatican II. As Ralph Mcinerny points out in ‘The Defamation of Pius XII’ the real agenda of the critics of Pius XII is a theological one, internal to the Church. It is the apostate who insists on remaining within the Church who most hates Pius XII the representative of a time when him and his kind were far more effectively identified and removed.