The Pope’s "Lawyer:" A Law Professor with a Mission
(Jurist: Books-on-Law, University of Pittsburgh)
The Political Science Reviewer (Kenneth D. Whitehead):
This book gives the most complete and best documented account of Pius
XII and the Holocaust of any of the  books under review here.... in
the light of the documentation and arguments that the author has assembled
here, the case against Pius XII set forth by the anti-Pius writers is
All in all, then, this is the best and most complete and accurate of
all the books under review here. It is the one book most likely to give
the reader of just one book on the Pius XII controversy the truest picture
of what the controversy is all about.
Scripps Howard News Service (Bartholomew Sullivan,):
Hitler, The War and The Pope [is] a carefully argued and densely
footnoted treatise defending the man who shepherded the Roman Catholic
Church from 1939 to 1958.
Times Review (Joseph O’Brien):
Hitler, the War and the Pope is both a level-headed history of
the wartime Pope and a stinging indictment of the dishonest scholarship
practices by Pius XII’s critics. As such, its value to the Church can only
be described as immeasurable....
Rychlak’s work is not a dry-bones history. His account is informed with
all the proper degrees of warmth and cool detachment necessary for
reliable but readable history.
Modern Age (James Kurth):
"Perhaps the current accusers, like professional historians of other
long-ago events, have discovered facts or documents which were unknown to
Jewish leaders at the time. This is what John Cornwell claims about
himself. However, Ronald Rychlak systematically demonstrates that these
claims are exaggerated or simply false.... Within the constraints of papal
language, Pius XII made many statements which criticized Nazi persecution
of the Jews. As Rychlak and others have demonstrated, this was recognized
at the time both by Jewish leasers and by the Nazis themselves....
Cornwell’s distortions and exaggerations, which are thoroughly documented
by Rychlak, are so pronounced that is ti difficult to credit him with good
Catholic Historical Review (Michael O’Carroll, Blackrock College,
A work of superb scholarship and most mature judgment.... The author’s
clear, graceful style makes his text a delight to read.... It is easy to
see future university students working on dissertations delving deeply
into the vast accessible treasure.... There is no comparable, certainly no
superior writing which manifests command of literature and telling
discernment, in recent historical literature.
The book is a landmark. I should make it clear that every major event
in the life of Pius XII is dealt with; every question raised about him is
answered and answered satisfactorily to the total confusion of his
Catholic News Service (Dr. Eugene Fisher, Loyola University of
[Hitler, the War, and the Pope] is written from the probing,
no-holds-barred point of view of a very good prosecuting attorney who
knows how to weigh evidence with legal precision. From this point of view,
the case against Pius is very thoroughly demolished since much of it
depends, not on evidence, but on speculation.
Mindszenty Report (Eleanor Schafly):
With exacting scholarship, Professor Rychlak has written a superb piece
of history to refute the undocumented and bigoted attacks on Pope Pius
XII. Readers will gain a new appreciation for the difficulties, challenges
and choices that Pius XII faced during the horrors of World War II.
National Catholic Register (Michael Coren):
Rychlak... responds to Cornwell’s libels and slanders eloquently and
intelligently. No illegal hits here, just a firm and fatal punch to the
chin.... By setting the record straight with solid scholarship and
verifiable facts, Ronald Rychlak has done both truth and heroism a service
of incalculable value.
Our Sunday Visitor (Robert Lockwood):
Hitler, the War and the Pope is the authoritative defense of
Pius XII produced by a lawyer’s exhaustive research. Documented rather
than based on opinion, conjecture and anti-papal prejudice so evident in
Cornwell’s pastiche, Rychlak’s book is a masterful restoration of the
Hitler, the War and the Pope is history at its best:
well-documented, dispassionate, objective and engaging. This book is the
definitive study of Pius and Nazi Germany. Rychlak’s work should put to an
end the slander of a heroic pope who, more than any individual at the time
was responsible for saving so many Jewish lives during the horror of the
Homiletic & Pastoral Review (Sr. Margarita Marchione):
Ron Rychlak provides convincing evidence as he addresses three of the
major 20th century topics in his book Hitler, the War, and the Pope.
A successful law professor and trial attorney, he refutes those who
present Pope Pius XII as anti-Semitic, passive and silent in the face of
the Holocaust. With the expertise of a "legal" historian, his arguments
are clear and concise.... Indeed, it is a balanced analysis that must be
considered in any discussion of this contemporary and much-debated topic.
First Things, Association of Contemporary Church Historians Newsletter,
and Catholic: The Voice of Catholic Orthodoxy (Fr. John Jay
Starting in the 1920s and concluding with Pius XII’s death, Rychlak
presents the judgement of the Pope’s contemporaries in rich detail...
Rychlak’s refutation of the Black Legend is impressive.
The New Oxford Review (Fr. Vincent Lapomarda, Holy Cross
With his legal analysis, Rychlak has proved to be a formidable
historian by skillfully refuting those who have gained headlines by
attacking Pius XII without solid evidence.... [Hitler, the War, and the
Pope] can be regarded as one of a handful of essential studies on the
role of Pius XII during the Second World War." ....Rychlak’s study should
help to defuse the uproar which has intensified during the past year over
Pius XII and the Holocaust and to introduce more reason than emotion into
the discussion of the major issues of his papacy and the cause for his
Inside the Vatican (Robert Phillips):
Professor Ronald Rychlak's new book is a significant accomplishment.
Hitler, the War, and the Pope is the most complete, timely and well
documented work on the war-time Pope. Rychlak, a scholar and legal expert,
tells a now familiar story. If his style at times seems that of a lawyer
patiently building his case, it is because the author wishes to tell the
whole story without frills or exaggerated interpretations. In a 500 page
manuscript, 183 pages are notes. This massive documentation backs up a
detailed account of the decisions and actions of the Holy See in World War
In a superb epilogue, Rychlak expertly demolishes John Cornwell's book,
Hitler's Pope. He shows convincingly that Cornwell's real target is
not Pius XII but John Paul II and that the canonization of the wartime
Pontiff as one of the final acts of the present Pope would signal the
restoration of "a reactionary papal absolutism." Rychlak's book is the
best word on the subject.
The Wanderer (William Doino):
Hitler, the War and the Pope will forever change the way the world
views Pope Pius XII.... By meticulously documenting Pius XII’s rescue
efforts, from unimpeachable archival sources, Rychlak demolishes the claim
– made by Cornwell and others – that those who rescued Jews always acted
on their own initiative, without any prompting from the Vatican. Indeed,
if there is one fact which Hitler, the War and the Pope proves, it
is that these Catholic rescuers acted under the direct orders of and
worked in close coordination with Pope Pius XII.
Not only Catholics, but especially Jews, should forever be grateful to
Professor Rychlak for spending so much time – and brandishing so much
intellectual courage – in publishing this book.
The Wabash Commentary (Ben Dilworth):
A strikingly intellectual read. One is immediately struck by the...
academic validity of Rychlak’s arguments.
Lay Witness (Thomas Nash):
Hitler, the War, and the Pope (Genesis Press) will prove helpful
in dealing with both Cornwell and Wills’ books. The evidence in Rychlak’s
book, ignored by Ed Bradley in his reckless portrait of Pius XII on "60
Minutes" earlier this year, serves as a methodical refutation of Cornwell,
Wills, and others who, whatever their motives, misrepresent the record of
Pius XII before and during World War II.
Culture Wars (Wayne Allen):
Rychlak puts this "silence" charge to rest at the level of fact....
Eternity entails larger obligations than time, which Pius XII understood,
and which Rychlak makes abundantly clear with his indefatigable defense.
The Catholic New World (Dolores Madlener):
From discussing the "doctored" photo on its cover to Cornwell's last
chapter where he attacks Pope John Paul II, whom he likens to Pius XII,
Rychlak's epilogue pins Cornwell to the mat of truth.... Hitler the War
and the Pope is as fascinating as anything in a Grisham novel or plot
on "Law and Order."
Religious and Social Issues Online:
A hard-hitting exploration of the wartime performance of Pope Pius
XII.... Rychlak examines the role of the papacy in the world, the Lateran
Treaty, the rise of Hitler and his battles with the Church. After setting
this background, he moves to the actions of the Pope year-by-year through
the war. In his last chapter he pulls it all together to ask the ten tough
questions that are now used to attack the Pope. His answers to these
questions are a strong rebuff to John Cornwell and other critics of Pius
Social Justice Review:
A suburb piece of history with every "i" dotted and every "t"
crossed.... Rychlak’s book needs to be placed in the hand of every critic
of Pope Pius XII, if he wants to discover the truth about him, and if the
media writers have any sincere desire to rectify the slanders that have
spread and the falsification of history to which they have contributed.
Catholic Answers Live Radio (Jerry Usher):
The new book that is completely changing the debate over what the
Church really did during that horrible period in man’s history....
With exacting scholarship, Professor Rychlak gives a full exploration of
that background facts, including discussions of history, religion,
politics, diplomacy, and military tactics. Then come ten fundamental
questions concerning Pope Pius and the Nazis, which are answered with
legal analysis and authoritative citation.... I think it’s going to be of
The result of extensive research into Vatican and secondary sources....
Far from being Hitler’s Pope, Pius XII was truly Hitler’s enemy.
The Beacon News (Kappy Stewart):
Rychlak presents a thoroughly researched and documented chronology of
the war and the Pope’s role in opposing it.... For the reader who is
interested in World War II history, and for those who find this ongoing
debate on the decisions of the Pope as leader of the Catholic Church
during this period, this is a fascinating read."
Deutsche Tagespost (Germany)
Hitler, the War and the Pope is "perhaps the most
complete biography of Pius XII."
The Crusade (Karol Gadge):
Over the past two years at least nine separate volumes have been
published on the Vatican’s role in the Second World War. One of the best
is undoubtedly Ronald Rychlak’s Hitler, The War and The Pope.
Rychlak... spent substantial time in Vatican archives, spoke to
numerous authorities and produced a rounded portrait of Pius that destroys
the fictional pope of the "silent" mantle.
Rychlak culminated eight years of research with his new book, a
documented, historical account of Pope Pius.... [He] methodically defends
the man elected to shepherd the Catholic Church just before Hitler’s
invasion of Poland.
Rychlak scoured many libraries for information, eventually going to
Rome in 1999 to search the Vatican archives.... The first 17 chapters
provide factual background, with historical accounts, original documents,
and expert commentary laying out the evidence.
Theological Studies (Patrick W. Carey ):
Rychlak’s work is a credible interpretation of the evidence that
challenges to some extent those interpretations... that expected more from
the pope than the evidence and historical circumstances warranted.
Rychlak’s work will not end the debate over those moral expectations, but
his interpretations deserve serious consideration.
The Australian (Kevin Tighe):
Best among the recent books defending Pius XII, is Ronald J. Rychlak's
Hitler, the War and the Pope,... an elegant tome of serious,
Catholic Replies (James J. Drummey)
Hitler, the War, and the Pope is an "excellent book."
Justus George Lawler (Popes and Politics: Reform, Resentment,
and the Holocaust):
Rychlak’s work is "honestly and forthrightly executed," and his
"mastery of the relevant literature is impressive.... He proves himself
less biased than the professional and ‘leftist’ historians."
Review for Religious (Patricia Chaffee, OP):
The tone of the writing is as objective as the title. He includes
everything necessary and nothing extraneous.... Rychlak unfolds his
exoneration of Pius XII like the lawyer he is. Every fact and opinion is
stated as objectively as possible....
Rychlak’s argument [is] decidedly more convincing than Cornwell’s. In
reading Rychlak, one has a sense of following a logical process through to
The Digest, National Italian American Bar Association Law Journal
A legal scholar and accomplished attorney, Rychlak displays a
formidable talent for accurate research and balanced conclusions....
It is a solitary book, bravely poking convincing holes in conventional
opinion. It is a book worth reading. You may hold any opinion you like
about Pius XII and the Catholic Church during WWII, but you would be
unjust to voice it without having read Hitler, the War, and the Pope.
St. Austin Review (Fr. Rodger Charles, SJ):
"... an important contribution to the scholarly literature on Pius
XII’s life and his Pontificate (1939-1958)." The epilogue on Hitler’s
Pope is particularly noted.
Cardinal Karl Lehmann, President of the German bishops’ conference:
"...a knowledgeable refutation of Daniel Goldhagen’s arguments."
[Discussing an article on Goldhagen’s work].