(1876—1958) pope 1939–58
Pope (1939–58). He upheld the neutrality of the Roman Catholic Church during World War II, maintaining diplomatic relations with both Allied and Axis governments. After the war criticism of his failure to condemn Nazi atrocities and of his apparent indifference to the plight of European Jewry persuaded the Vatican to make a formal apology in 1997. Pius XII took steps to counter the rise of communism in postwar Italy, threatening to excommunicate its supporters.