Film to portray Pope Pius XII as traitor to Holocaust Jews
A film on the life of Pius XII, the wartime pontiff accused of failing to help the Jewish victims of the Holocaust because of his alleged anti-Semitism, is finally to be made after four decades of disapproval by the Holy See.
But Vatican sensitivities mean that Bucharest will stand in for Rome during the filming. The issue of Pius XII (1939-58) and Nazism was recently revived when the Pope made clear that he intended to beatify the wartime incumbent, a man of stern and ascetic piety, putting him on the road to sainthood.
The beatification process is on hold because of growing criticism from Jewish and other groups who argue that as papal nuncio (ambassador) in Berlin and then as Vatican Secretary of State, Pius XII, the former Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, showed German sympathies, and that as Pope he turned a blind eye to Hitler's atrocities against the Jews and other minorities.
Konstantinos Costa-Gavras, the left-wing Greek film-maker who lives and works in France, said the controversy arose in 1963, when the German dramatist Rolf Hochhuth published his play Der Stellvertreter (The Deputy, translated into Italian as Il Vicario, or The Vicar, the working title of the film.) Costa-Gavras said he had decided that the moment was now right to film Hochhuth's version of the Pius XII drama, and had started shooting scenes in France and in Romania. He still hoped to be allowed to film in and around the Vatican.
Reports say that Peter Ustinov and Dustin Hoffman have both been approached about the role.