The BBC is not the most self-critical of organisations but Lord Alton of Liverpool and Fr Leo Chamberlain of Ampleforth have actually prevailed in the matter of a complaint against a news broadcast in which a reporter stood at Auschwitz and proclaimed, as fact, that the attitude of the Catholic Church to the Holocaust was one of silence.

These days the BBC seems remarkably untroubled by anything as inconvenient as proper research and is content to repeat any old canard as long as it adds melodrama or controversy to what was once straightforward coverage of the news.

Here are just a few of the inconvenient truths its reporter ignored:

In 1928 the Vatican issued a condemnation of anti-Semitism. In 1933 a group of German bishops announced that the sacrament would be refused to anyone engaged in Nazism with its creed of eugenics. In 1940, when the Nazi war machine was overrunning swathes of Europe, the Vatican issued a condemnation of the attack on the disabled – or as Hitler called them, “useless eaters”.

Actions speak louder than words and the BBC might like to note the record of resistance and risk that was undertaken not just by individual bishops, priests and lay Catholics but by the pope himself. The careless writers of the report might also like to note that most of the following comes not from Catholic but Jewish sources.

After the war the Israeli consul stated that Pius XII had been instrumental in saving “at least 700,000 Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis”. Indeed, there were wholehearted tributes and thanks to the pope at that time. Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, and its chief rabbi, Isaac Herzog, were among those to recognise and praise his efforts. Meanwhile, the chief rabbi of Rome actually became a Catholic and took the pope’s name as a tribute to him. You can hardly have a more dramatic endorsement than that!

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