Many are still convinced Pope Pius XII did not help the Jews during World War II and much skepticism still surrounds his pontificate.
In a film that debuted Monday in the Vatican, the protagonist, an Italian-American investigative journalist and a Jew, had this same mentality—at first.
The movie, “Shades of Truth,” shows David Milan’s journey as he was commissioned to do an investigation on Pope Pius XII, which brought him from New York to Rome to the Holy Land and other parts of Europe, as well as his love story and its ups and downs.
Despite his initial resistance, the writer was determined to find the truth, even if that meant overturning his views to recognize all that Pope Pius XII did to save the lives of thousands of Jews.
Realizing that Pius XII had been wrongly considered “Hitler’s Pope,” the skeptical journalist sees his previously held convictions dismantle with each passing page and eyewitness, even through the research and knowledge of his own loved ones.
Written and directed by filmmaker Liana Marabini, the movie which premiered on the anniversary of the birth of Eugenio Pacelli in 1876 and his election as Pope with the name of Pius XII in 1939, starred actors Christopher Lambert, Gedeon Burkhard, David Wall, Marie-Christine Barrault, Giancarlo Giannini, Remo Girone, among others.
Produced by Condor Pictures, in association with Liamar Media World, the film is based on the content of about 100,000 pages of documents and testimonies of Jewish Holocaust survivors that, due to Pope Pius XII’s intervention, were saved from deportation.
The director, an admirer of the wartime Pontiff, studied for years these testimonies, along with the diplomatic activity that allowed him to save the lives of 800,000 Jews.
Gary Krupp, the Jewish director of Pave the Way Foundation, is known for his foundation’s deep investigation into Pope Pius XII and whether he helped the Jews. Krupp, in the film and in an interview with ZENIT, has admitted he grew up hating Pope Pius XII, but then, after thorough research by scholars in the Vatican and the Holy Land, realized he “was a hero.” Vast documentation verifying the Pope’s efforts is available on the foundation’s website.
In fact, a moving part of the film, which some leaving the theater told ZENIT, was hearing how upon observing how greatly Pius XII helped the Jews in Rome, Rome’s Chief Rabbi at the time converted to Catholicism and took the name Eugenio.
The film’s director admits that the work of Gary and his wife Merry on Pope Pius XII was an inspiration behind this film.
Some of the actors in the film, as well as the Krupps, expressed to ZENIT their hope that this would show the world the “truth” about Pope Pius XII, that, “He was a hero, who helped the Jews,” and must be better understood.
Many officials of the Roman Curia, journalists, actors, researchers, and even royalty were on hand for the premier as well as a press conference prior to the debut.
Pope Benedict XVI declared his predecessor Venerable in 2009. In 2014, Pope Francis announced his intention for the Vatican Secret Archives be opened to scholars in order to further study his predecessor’s role during WWII. During his return flight from the Holy Land, the Holy Father said that Pius XII’s beatification has been stalled due to the lack of a an approved miracle.
On the NET:
Documentation of Pius XII Helping the Jews: www.ptwf.org