Sunday, November 21, 2010
Taking the maximalist position:
Pope Benedict on
"The decisive thing is what he did and what he tried to do, and on that score, we really must acknowledge, I believe, that he was one of the great righteous men and that he saved more Jews than anyone else."
The claim is that the church was sheltering 700,000-800,000 Jews in monasteries and convents, which were not being raided and searched for Jews by the Nazis, at the cost of Pius XII's silence.
I don't think that the Nazis would have called off the holocaust had Pius challenged them publicly. It isn't as if they didn't know what they were doing and were open to the moral persuasion of the Pope.
So given that Pius XII course of action supposedly saved (750,000 / 3,000,000) = 25% of the entire surviving European Jewish population, I can't imagine what other historical figures of the era would even be open for consideration.
I suppose it comes down to conflicting moral values. When you can't do both, do you speak out, or do you save lives. Every European who sheltered and saved Jews during WW2 was faced with the same dilemma, but none on such a large scale. And frustrating as it may be, it seems likely that the vast majority of Jews who survived hiding from the Nazis did so because their protectors chose Pius' path.