Pius XII & Critical Race Theory: The New Books Tell the Truth

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio – articles – email ) | Sep 09, 2022

I can recommend two other very good books from Ignatius Press, even though I haven’t read them in depth myself. One of the topics is critical race theory, which is the latest ideological liberal academic fad in pursuit of worldly paradise. To help you understand it (the better to dismiss it), Edward Feser has written an extremely practical book, All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and a Critical Theory of Race.

The other is an in-depth investigation of what the Vatican Secret Archives reveals on the (seemingly burning) issue of Pope Pius XII’s role in protecting Jews from the Holocaust. Everyone recognized the Pope’s immense service to the Jews at the time, for which he was publicly thanked in 1944 by the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. But of course that reputation was attacked long after the fact by secular scholars (the same kind that emanate from culturally popular ideologies like critical race theory), who sought to bolster their notoriety by turning the world against the pope and his infamous religion. Nevertheless, the researcher extraordinary Michael Hesemann has gathered everything you need to know about The Pope and the Holocaust: Pius XII and the Vatican Secret Archives.

Now I don’t really have any questions on either topic, so I just confirmed that the books are excellent rather than reading them in detail. But some readers may find themselves in a battle with those who wish to use the Holocaust to defame the Church or to embrace critical race theory as the latest “global idea.” It’s a wonderful way to dismiss all previous generations as packs of amoral, thoughtless rogues and fools. If you wish to understand either issue more fully, or are able to expose the absurd misrepresentations of reality that both claims imply, then these are the books for you.

Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory transformed some reasonable ideas about racial prejudice into a comprehensive theory of human interaction. All of history, apparently, is about one race trying to subjugate other races, and we are blind if we do not recognize, denounce and compensate for the universal presence of this disposition (except among those who embrace the theory). Seriously, though, it’s far better to just examine your conscience according to basic Catholic moral teachings and go to confession when needed, than to cling to the latest all-encompassing explanation of almost everything. We will grow much faster in understanding reality, and do much more good, simply by being faithful to Christ and the Church.

But I probably don’t need to tell you this, and in fact, CatholicCulture.org has covered both Critical Race Theory and even this author and this book even in the latest episode 141 of the Catholic Culture Podcast. Thomas V. Mirus interviews Edward Feser in a delightful and informative exchange titled (somewhat improbably) Libertarianism, Jazz & Critical Race Theory. The episode is an opportunity to learn something important while having fun. But if Critical Race Theory is in your wheelhouse, you should definitely read Feser’s remarkably concise and insightful book.

Edward Feser is quite a reliable scholar. In the past, I have had occasion to review and recommend his Five proofs of the existence of Godand Thomas Mirus also recommended and summarized one of Feser’s articles on political theory in the 2019 episode 45 of the Catholic Culture Podcast.

Pius XII and the Holocaust

According to critical race theory, I suppose that Pope Pius XII was unable to recognize his own inescapable prejudices, and since he was unwilling to repudiate himself, he must have done far more harm than well in the methods he chose to protect the Jews and resist Nazi aggression. This, apparently, is the lot of anyone who lived through BCRT (before Critical Race Theory). And of course there were many trying to prove that the Catholic record was not only flawed but completely wrong during the Nazi era, and in particular trying to prove that Pius XII should never have been honored for the huge although he did in a very difficult situation. It irritates seculars and ex-Catholics that the Church has a good reputation in anything, because the only inadmissible truth in a secular age is the truth that if people followed Christ in the Church, the present would be much better, and the future (short, long and very long term) would be much brighter.

Note that all “state” archives are not opened until well after the death of the administration in question, in order to protect the privacy of those referenced therein, not to mention the time required to organize and catalog the documents at the use of others. As a result, when the Vatican Secret Archives for the Pontificate of Pius XII was opened in 2020, many scholars rushed to study the existing archives to find more information about the Church’s interaction with Hitler (a very sensitive issue, of course) and his efforts to protect the Jews. (and Christians) targeted for the Holocaust. Hesemann himself, who had already worked for thirteen years in the Archives as a whole, was delighted to have access to the material from the pontificate of Pius XII.

One can always argue with hindsight that this or that policy change might have worked better, but in general the haste to dig into the archives confirmed and improved rather than tarnished the record of achievement that was rightly credited to the Pope at the time. Michael Hesemann’s in-depth look at what the archives have revealed clarifies the dramatic story of a spiritual leader doing what he could to resist and protect others against the onslaught of an evil that has long seemed literally unbelievable. , except for the Church. Hesemann has always been able to tell a great story based on impeccable research with detailed notes and bibliography. I have already reviewed and recommended his fascinating archaeological studies of the evidence for the life and impact of Married and Jesus).


In heaven, I suppose, we’ll have time to read it all. But of course it will be “simpler” and even more pleasant to probe the Divine intellect – and there will be no harm to deal with. In the meantime, these are two good books on important and unfortunately controversial subjects that I can only warmly recommend to anyone who wants to learn more.

Edward Feser, All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and a Critical Theory of Race. Ignatius Press 2022. 163pp. paper $15.26

Michael Hesemann, The Pope and the Holocaust: Pius XII and the Vatican Secret Archives. Ignatius Press 2022. 459pp. $16.96 paperback, $12.97 ebook.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a doctorate. in Intellectual History from Princeton University. Co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full biography.

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Colin L. Johnson