Saturday, 6 February 2010

Pope Pius XII maligned again

Pope Couldn't Be Indifferent to Raid as It Hadn't Happened Yet
By Jesús Colina

ROME, FEB. 2, 2010 - Pope Pius XII was again in the news this week, as researchers presented two documents that were interpreted as putting the Pope in a negative light regarding his response to the Holocaust.

As ZENIT reported Monday, a brief document was presented as a new find dated Oct. 19, 1943. The document is a telegram from American diplomat Harold Tittmann on his meeting with the Pope.

The document does not mention the Oct. 16 raid on the Jews of Rome, wherein more than 1,000 of the city's Jews were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz.

Given that Tittmann's report does not mention the raid (though theoretically it had happened just three days before), and instead reports Pius XII's concern about Communists in Rome and his desire to keep the Eternal City in peace, headlines reported the Pope's "indifference" to the Holocaust.

However, there is a basic problem.

In a statement sent to ZENIT, Professor Ronald Rychlak of the University of Mississippi explains that Pius XII could not have expressed concern about the roundup of Roman Jews because it hadn't happened yet.

Rychlak is the author of "Hitler, the War, and the Pope."

He explained: "The transcribed message to Washington from Harold Tittmann is dated Oct. 19, but this is a mistake. Vatican records show that the meeting between Pius and Tittmann took place on Oct. 14.

"In fact, L'Osservatore Romano of Oct. 15, 1943, reported on page one -- top of the first column -- that Tittmann was received by the Pope in a private audience on Oct. 14, 1943.

"Apparently a handwritten '14' was misread as a '19' when the documents were typed. The Pope did not mention the roundup of Jews because it had not yet happened!"

Rychlak noted that what the Pope did express to Tittmann was his concern "that a group of Communists would commit a violent act and this would lead to serious repercussions. Of course, he proved to be exactly correct the following spring."

Moreover, though the Oct. 14 document was presented as a new find, historians were already aware of it because it was published in 1964, with the incorrect date.

It is in the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) collection, in Volume II of 1943, on page 950.

In his blog, Andrea Tornielli, Vatican expert of the Italian daily "Il Giornale," points out that the researchers who presented this "new document," Giuseppe Casarrubea and Mario Cereghino, have already made such "revelations" in the past.

"In October of 2008," he reported, "they presented as unpublished a document to use it against Pius XII (it was also referred to by ANSA [news] agency) and later they had to apologize."