Film about Pius XII panned by Catholic and Jewish media

An Italian film that attempts to defend Pope Pius XII over his wartime role has been criticised by Catholic and Jewish media.

“Shades of Truth” is the account of a fictional present-day American journalist and critic of Pius who changes his mind after carrying out research.

Some Jews have accused Pope Pius of failing to use his position to bring attention to Hitler’s attempted extermination of the Jews.

The Vatican has said Pius worked actively behind the scenes to save thousands of Jews.

He 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.

“Shades of Truth”, based on the work of Jewish historian Pinchas Lapide, credits Pius XII with saving the lives of 800,000 Jews.

The filmmakers argue that Pius XII was “the most misunderstood figure of the 20th century”.

Director Liana Marabini said “Pinchas Lapide is absolutely credible, because he was Jewish, he lived during war and knew Pius XII well”.

But Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said the film was naive, lacking credibility and a “frankly clumsy attempt” at defending the wartime pontiff.

Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana said the film would damage Pius’s reputation.

This is because it was overly apologetic and not sufficiently based on historical documents that defend him.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 the film “a blundering soap opera of dubious quality, filled with stereotypes”.

This paper particularly criticised a scene in which the journalist dreams he sees Pius wearing a yellow star of David on his white cassock, like the emblem the Nazis forced Jews to wear.

Marcello Pezzetti, director of the Museum of the Shoah Foundation in Rome, said the film presented a “false interpretation of history”.

“Shades of Truth” will be released internationally next month.

Its director hopes to be able to show it in the Cannes Film Festival.

Last year, Pope Francis said the cause for beatification of Pius XII had stalled because no miracle attributable to his intervention had been found.


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