The Vatican newspaper has given the thumbs-down to a new film defending the wartime Pope Pius XII.
In a scathing review, L’Osservatore Romano described Shades of Truth as “naïve”, “lacking credibility” and “frankly clumsy”.
The film, which is directed by Liana Marabini and stars Christopher Lambert and Giancarlo Giannini, is based on the work of Jewish historian Pinchas Lapide, who credited Pius XII with saving the lives of 800,000 Jews.
The film’s producers argue that Pius XII was “the most misunderstood figure of the 20th century.”
Shades of Truth tells the story of an Amerian journalist who is at first critical of Pope Pius but changes his mind after researching the pontificate.
According to Reuters, the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana claimed the film would hurt Pius’s reputation because it was overly apologetic and did not draw on the historical facts which support his record.
Pagine Ebraiche, an online news service for the Jewish community in Rome, called the film “a blundering soap opera of dubious quality, filled with stereotypes”.
Some have accused Pope Pius of failing to do enough to protect Jews during the Holocaust and Jewish leaders have appealed repeatedly to the Vatican to release all archival material related to his pontificate.
But in an interview last year with a Spanish newspaper, Pope Francis strongly defended Pius XII, saying that the Vatican archives would show that his predecessor helped to rescue Italian Jews.