WASHINGTON (September 9, 1999) -- Dr. Eugene Fisher, who serves on the staff of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, has offered the following comment on the excerpt from John Cornwell's book, Hitler's Pope, appearing in the current issue of Vanity Fair:
"Scholars who have seen this excerpt in Vanity Fair have been less than impressed by this latest attempt to buttress the discredited thesis of the 1963 play, The Deputy, which attacked Pius XII's wartime role. There appears to be very little significant documentation in the article that has not already been carefully examined in the public forum for some time, though there is more than enough of what one scholar calls `armchair psychologizing.'
"Journalists and others interested in learning more about the actual Pius XII would be better served reading the `other' new book about the subject, published last week by Paulist Press, Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican, authored by the Jesuit scholar Pierre Blet.
"Father Blet was one of the four scholars who compiled twelve large volumes of relevant documentation from the Holy See's archives. Since the documents were reproduced in their original languages (predominately Italian, French and German), few Americans, other than scholars, have had access to it. In the twelve chapters of his book, Father Blet summarizes the main thrust of each volume's documents in their historical context. Well written and approachable, this book should dispel the clouds of insinuation and tortured speculation that permeate works as sensational as John Cornwell's seems intended to be."
Dr. Fisher can be reached for comment through the NCCB/USCC Department of Communications 202/541-3200.