ROME (JTA) – A new movie depicting Pope Pius XII as a savior of Jews was criticized by the Vatican newspaper and an Italian Jewish publication. “Shades of Truth,” featuring international stars Christopher Lambert and Giancarlo Giannini, had its premiere on Monday, March 2, in Vatican City. The movie attempts to prove that Pius XII was not “Hitler’s Pope,” as some have dubbed him, but “the Vatican’s Schindler,” in reference to the German businessman Oskar Schindler, who is credited with saving some 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.
Critics have long accused Pius of not having done enough to help Jews during the Holocaust, while the Vatican has asserted he worked behind the scenes to save Jews. According to the film’s director, Liana Marabini, the skillful diplomacy of Pius XII saved some 800,000 Jews from persecution.
But the Holy See’s daily newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, called the film “naive” and “not credible.” Works such as “Shades of Truth” do not help the historical understanding of the efforts of Pius XII during World War II, the paper said, because “when the means of production and art are not up to a task of that importance, it is better to give up.”
An editorial in the Jewish online publication Pagine Ebraiche featuring the headline “Pius XII, a fiction that rewrites history” was quoted Monday, March 2, in the national press. “The Vatican archives are still closed but at least Catholic cinema gives us one more fiction to rewrite history,” the editorial read.
Pope Francis will see “Shades of Truth” in September during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. In an interview in June, Francis defended Pius XII’s record during WWII, calling the former pope “the great defender of the Jews.”