The black legend about Pope Pius XII is so widespread that many consider it to be more true than the actual historical facts, says papal biographer Andrea Tornielli.
Tornielli's latest book, "Pio XII, Un Uomo Sul Trono di Pietro" (Pius XII: A Man on the Throne of Peter)," hit the bookshelves in Italy today. Tornielli is a noted Vatican journalist with the Milan-based newspaper Il Giornale.
Speaking with ZENIT, Tornielli denounced "the arbitrary diminishment of the figure of Pius XII."
That Pope has been "crushed under criticisms about the Holocaust and his 'silence,'" Tornielli said.
The 661-page book is a biography of the Roman-born Pope, and is based on never before seen documentation from the private archives of the Pacelli family, and eyewitness accounts recorded in the acts of his beatification cause.
Contrary to the Pius XII presented by his opponents as the "Pope of silence," a different Pius XII emerges from the pages of Tornielli's book.
"One of the major sources of my work," Tornielli explained, "was the letters Pacelli wrote to his family, in particular to his brother Francesco. While he was the nuncio in Germany, Pacelli collaborated with Pope Pius XI to create the Lateran Pacts.
"From these never before seen papers we can see Pius XII's concern about the birth of Nazism and about its strong anti-Christian nationalism."
"But other aspects also emerge -- much more personal ones -- like his desire not to become a cardinal so he could dedicate himself fully to pastoral ministry," he continued. "Here we see that Pacelli, as nuncio, cardinal and then Pope, was always a priest at heart, a true priest."
"The campaign against Pius XII was started in the Soviet Union and was then sustained in Catholic environments," Tornielli concluded. "Slowly the truth is emerging about the accusations of silence." Zenit