Saturday, 27 February 2010


Cornwell’s Pope: A Nasty Caricature of a Noble and Saintly Man - ZENIT
Against John Cornwell's book: "Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII," a point by point rebuttal is provided by Dr. Peter Gumpel, S.J., one of the most respected authorities on the Catholic Church and the Second World War and postulator of the cause for beatification of Pius XII.
Did Pius XII Remain Silent? – Fr William Saunders
In spite of Hitler’s reprisals against the Church, the Pope did speak out against persecution of the Jews, and acted in secret, to deliver as many as possible from the Nazis.

Difficult Relations Between Church and Nazism - ZENIT
On 4 May 2000, the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum" in Rome held a Congress on "The Martyrs of Eastern Europe and Nazism." Among the speakers was Fr. Peter Gumpel, a prestigious historian and official postulator of the Society of Jesus, who addressed the topic of the relations between the Catholic Church and Nazism.

Eichmann’s Diary Reveals Church’s Assistance to Jews - ZENIT
Adolf Eichmann’s diaries, executed in 1962 for "crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity," show that the Pope "vigorously protested the arrest of Jews, requesting the interruption of such action."

Historical Truth of Pius XII’s Work - ZENIT
Sister Margaret Marchione’s book, Pius XII: Architect of Peace, looks at the Holocaust, and praises Pius XII’s work in support of the persecuted. The author, who is internationally known for her numerous publications on historic figures, maintains that this Pontiff was one of the most invaluable protectors of the Jews in countries dominated by National Socialism, whose atrocities he condemned.

Jewish Recognition of Pope Pius XII’s Support - ZENIT
Reports that "a document has been discovered in Israel that not only confirms Pius XII's role in defense of persecuted Jews, but reveals that world leaders of the Jewish communities at the time were very aware of his action, to the point that after the war they came to Rome and gave the Catholic Church a very generous donation."

Jewish-Catholic Commission to Study World War II - ZENIT
Six scholars, three Catholic and three Jewish, will form a joint team to study the 11 volumes of Vatican documents relating to the Second World War. In particular, the Commission will analyze the Catholic Church’s relation with the Jews during those very complex years of world history.

New Studies Document Pius XII’s Opposition to Nazism – ZENIT
A new book, "Fascism, the Church, and the Catholic Movement in Italy: 1922-1943," by Russian historian Evghenija Tokareva, sheds further light on Pius XII’s response to Nazi persecution of the Jews.

Pius XII and the Holocaust - The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
Compilation of articles, including two by Robert A. Graham, S.J., "How to Manufacture a Legend," on the alleged silence of Pius XII, and "Pius XII’s Defense of Jews and Others," written with full access to the Vatican Archives; also "A Question of Judgment: Pius XII and the Jews," by Joseph Lichten, then director of International Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

Pius XII and the Jews - National Association of Catholic Families
In response to the question, why Pius XII did not speak out more forcefully against Hitler, historian Fr Dermot Fenlon of the Birmingham Oratory looks at the facts and sets the record straight.

Pius XII Rehabilitated by Jewish Historian – ZENIT
Newly revealed documents show Nazis regarded the Pope as an enemy because of his assistance to Jews. 

Pius XII: the Martyrdom of Silence - Dr Emilia Paola Pacelli
Dr Pacelli gives testimony to the Pope's suffering in silence rather than give occasion to the Nazis to worsen their atrocities.

Pius XII’s 1941 Letter Protested Treatment of Jews - ZENIT
Russian historian Evghenjia Tokareva, author of the first Russian monograph on "Fascism, the Church, and the Catholic Movement in Italy (1922-1943)," said that in "January 1941, Pius XII was ready to address a letter to Germany, with a strong protest for the arrest and deportation of 40,000 Jews, but he burnt it, explaining that the protests he expressed before caused very harsh reprisals."

Pius XII’s Cause of Beatification Progresses –ZENIT
In spite of campaign launched against Pius XII, his cause of beatification "is proceeding rapidly," according to Fr. Peter Gumpel, relator of the cause.

Saviour of the Jews – Michael O’Carroll C.S.Sp.
Raises the question of why Pius XII continues to be charged with doing nothing to save the Jews, when the evidence to the contrary is so accessible and compelling.

The Myth in the Light of the Archives – Peirre Blet, S.J.
Accusers of Pius XII are referred to the Archives of the Vatican Secretariat of State, accessible since 1964, where files record the day by day, sometimes hour by hour, activity of the Pope and his offices.

World Press Unmasks Fallacies in Book Defaming Pius XII – ZENIT
In a follow-up interview, Dr Peter Gumpel responds to questions on the Cornwell book against Pius XII.

Most of Rome's Jews Were Saved From Hitler's Final Solution - LOR
In an interview, given to the German Catholic News Agency (KNA) on 7 November 2000, by Mr Nikolaus Kunkel, a German army officer testifies to Pius XII’s actions to save Roman Jews during the Second  World War.

The Good Samaritan: Jewish Praise For Pope Pius XII - Dimitri Cavalli
This article brings together a considerable amount of previously scattered evidence for how
Jews during Pius's lifetime viewed his conduct. It also raises the question, Were the Jews who praised and thanked Pius after the war all mistaken or insincere, or are the attacks on Pius today unfair?

Rabbi defends Pius XII against criticisms - Rabbi David G. Dalin
In an article appearing in the February 26, 2001 edition of The Weekly Standard, a political weekly edited by conservative commentators William Kristol and Fred Barnes, Rabbi David G. Dalin persuasively addresses the criticisms of Pope Pius XII in recent books which argue he did little to oppose the Holocaust during World War II. 

Review of Pierre Blet's Book - Konrad Repgen
In this article, a professor emeritus of the University of Bonn reviews the book by Fr Pierre Blet, S.J., Papst Pius XII und der Zweite Weltkrieg. Aus den Akten de Vatikans ("Pius XII and the Second World War, according to the Archives of the Vatican").

Pius XII Saved More Jews Than Schindler - LOR
In an interview conducted by L'Osservatore Romano (5 September 2001), historian Rabbi David Dalin defends Pope Pius XII against revisionist historians, who charge him with not doing enough to defend the Jews against Nazi persecution.

For Berlin, Pius XII Was a Subversive - ZENIT
In opposition to continuing charges that Pius XII was unjustifiably silent in the face of Nazism,
Protestant pastor Francois de Beaulieu revealed to the French weekly "Reforme" his experience in 1942 as a radio operator secretly spreading Pope Pius's famous Christmas radio message against Nazism. 

The Commission That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Dimitri Cavalli
Suspension of the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission was announced on 23 July 2001. Mr. Cavalli examines what went wrong with the Commission, formed to evaluate Vatican documents on Pope Pius XII's actions during the Holocaust.

A "Righteous Gentile" Defends Pius XII - ZENIT
A piece on Pope Pius XII by University of Mississippi law professor Ron Rychlak. The author of "Hitler, the War and the Pope," Rychlak counters the charge that the Pope was not involved in Catholic efforts to save the Jews by producing an eyewitness, Tibor Baranski, executive secretary of the Jewish Protection Movement of the Holy See in Hungary during World War II, and honored by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile. 

Pius XII's Directive Helped Save 800 Jews - ZENIT
Newly found evidence shows that Pius XII helped spare the lives of 800 Jews in the Italian cities of Livorno, Lucca and Pisa, when he asked various Church groups to help preserve them from Nazi persecution in 1943 and 1944.

Vatican Told Nuncio to Forgo Praise of Hitler - ZENIT
The recently opened Vatican-archives material relating to the interwar era continues to refute the theses that accuse Popes Pius XI and Pius XII of acquiescence to Adolf Hitler. In an interview published by the newspaper Il Giornale, professor Matteo Luigi Napolitano, who teaches church-state relations at the University of Urbino, Italy, described the Holy See's position vis-à-vis the Nazi regime.

On Hitler, the Holy See and the Jews - ZENIT
An interview with historian Father Giovanni Sale about the findings published in his book, Hitler, la Santa Sede e gli Ebrei, in which he analyzed the relations between The Vatican and the Third Reich during 1933-1945.

Pius XII's Aid to Jews Stirred Protests - ZENIT
Documentation from the Vatican Secret Archives has revealed that Pope Pius XII's wartime assistance to Jews was so great that it stirred protests in some Catholic circles. In order to understand better these discoveries, ZENIT (4 July 2004) interviewed Father Peter Gumpel, a historian and expert on the matter. 

Pius XII as a Righteous Gentile - ZENIT
Despite what some modern critics say, Pope Pius XII launched a multifaceted response to the Nazi campaign against the Jews. So says Ronald Rychlak, an adviser to the Holy See's delegation to the United Nations, and University of Mississippi law professor. Rychlak shared with ZENIT some of the information he has amassed in defense of Pius XII and the Church, and how Catholics can respond to detractors. 

Pius XII's Massive Crusade - ZENIT
As the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII approaches, errors regarding his life and involvement with the Holocaust continue to persist, says historian Sister Margherita Marchione. Sister Marchione described for ZENIT the Pope's tireless efforts to save Jews and reunite prisoners of war with their families.

Holy See and the Jewish Question - ZENIT
The publication of a new book has renewed the debate about Pope Pius XII's process of beatification. La Santa Sede e la questione ebraica (1933-1945) (The Holy See and the Jewish Question (1933-1945)) is written by Alessandro Duce, professor of history of international relations at the University of Parma, and published by Studium. To have a broader idea of the question, ZENIT interviewed Duce.

The Encyclical that Infuriated Hitler - ZENIT
On Palm Sunday of 1937, Pope Pius XI's encyclical "Mit Brennender Sorge" was read in all the parishes of Germany. It was arguably the Holy See's harshest criticism ever of a political regime, according to Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel. And Pius XII, then Secretary of State, helped to write it.

More Testimonies Defend Pius XII
Many past testimonies support Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's announcement that Pope Pius XII signed a letter in 1943 asking religious institutes to open their doors to persecuted Jews. That wartime letter undercuts the theory that bishops, religious and many Catholics who risked their lives to save Jews from extermination did so without the Pope's knowledge.

Cardinal Bertone on Pius XII
At the presentation of a book by Andrea Tornielli, "Pio XII: Un Uomo Sul Trono di Pietro" (Pius XII: A Man on the Throne of Peter), Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone addressed the "black legend," that Pius the XII had kept silent in the face of Nazi atrocities against the Jews.

History Will Render Justice to Pope Pius XII
Fifty years after Pius XII's death, the black legend of "Hitler's Pope" is still vividly present in the newspapers. Paolo Mieli, an authoritative historian and editor-in-chief of an important Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, discusses it here in an interview with Giovanni Maria Vian, editor-in-chief of L'Osservatore Romano, and with the author of this article.

The Multifaceted and Fruitful Magisterium of Pius XII - Pope Benedict XVI -
On 8 November 2008, the Holy Father met with participants at a congress on "The Heritage of the Magisterium of Pius XII and the Second Vatican Council" promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University and the Pontifical Gregorian University. The Pope observed that the present narrow focus on Pius XII's response to Nazi Germany has missed the depth of a great historical-theological figure.

Hitler's Pope? A Judgment Historically Unsustainable - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, on 6 November 2008, opened in Rome, at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Congress "the Inheritance of the Magisterium of Pius XII", organized on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Eugenio Pacelli. In his speech, the Cardinal recalled the heroism of Pius XII in the face of great difficulties.

Group Gives New Proof of Pius XII's Help for Jews - ZENIT
Recently uncovered documents show gestures of friendship and protection that Pius XII showed to Jews before, during and after World War II. The discoveries were made by the German historian and advisor, Michael Hesemann, who found a number of documents in the Vatican Secret Archives that certified Pope Pacelli's numerous interventions in favor of Jews.

Clarifying the Nature and Significance of Eugenio Pacelli's Pontificate - Giovanni Maria Vian
The Editor-in-Chief of L'Osservatore Romano recapitulates the emergence of the "Black Legend" about Pius XII in the years following World War II, with an outline of the new historiographical consensus on the importance of his pontificate.

New Evidence Says Pius XII Helped Jews - ZENIT
A foundation that promotes interreligious dialogue announced that it has more than 2,300 pages of original documents illustrating Pope Pius XII's efforts to help Jews in the face of Nazism. Gary Krupp, president of the New York-based Pave the Way Foundation, affirmed this in a statement to ZENIT, stating also that the documents from the years 1940-1945 will be made available to the public for research.

Note Concerning Decree on the Heroic Virtues of Pius XII - Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, offered a statement to Vatican Radio 23 December 2009, in response to Benedict XVI's declaration on 19 December, recognizing the heroic virtue of Pius XII. Fr Lombardi said that Pope Pius XII has been declared "venerable" because he is a model for Christian life, not because of the historical decisions he made.

Priest Gives Proof of Pius XII's Aid to Jews - ZENIT
Jesús Colina of ZENIT reports the testimony, in favor of Pope Pius XII's support of efforts to save Jews from the Nazis, of Father Giancarlo Centioni, 97, who served as a military chaplain for the National Security Volunteer Militia in Rome from 1940 to 1945.

Dishonesty and Misinformation - Bernard-Henri Levy
As this article shows, the mass media have misinformed the public regarding the actions and attitudes of two Popes, Benedict XVI and Pius XII, toward the Jewish people. 

Why the Nazis Feared Pius XII - Dimitri Cavalli
Pope Pius XII continues to be charged with not speaking often or loudly enough against the Nazi persecution of the Jews. As this article indicates, the Nazis heard the Pope's messages loud and clear. 

Confidential Audience in 1942 with Pius XII - Paolo Dezza
On 28 June 1964 "L'Osservatore della Domenica" published the account by Fr Paolo Dezza, SJ — Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University from 1941-1951 — of a highly confidential Audience granted to him by Pope Pius XII. This is a translation of his article, which was written in Italian.

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Pope Pius XII: The Good Samaritan, 
by Dimitri Cavalli

Inside the Vatican has given considerable space in its pages to coverage of the fierce debate over the wartime role of Pope Pius XII and his alleged "silence" in the face of the Nazi persecution of the Jews (see particularly our June 1997 and our October 1999 issues). We will continue to do so as long as the debate rages. The article we print here brings together a considerable amount of previously scattered evidence for how Jews during Pius's lifetime viewed Pius's conduct. Reading Cavalli's piece, it is striking to see how different the general Jewish opinion of Pius XII was in the years during and immediately following the war from what it is today. This prompts a fundamental question: Were the Jews who praised and thanked Pius after the war all mistaken or insincere, or are the attacks on Pius today unfair?—The Editor

During World War II, many Jews around the world had the chance to observe Pope Pius XII's conduct. They listened to his every word, and scrutinized his every action. Instead of seeing "Hitler's Pope," most Jews concluded that Pius XII's public statements were directed against the Nazis, and that he and his subordinates in many Nazi-occupied and Axis countries were trying to save Jewish lives. The many extraordinary and eloquent tributes that the Pope once received from Jews show that the allegations that he was a Nazi collaborator and indifferent toward the extermination of Jews would have seem completely unjustified and unjust to those who closely following his career.

Allegations that Pope Pius XII was pro-Nazi are often supported by his time in Germany from 1917 to 1929 as the papal nuncio and his direct role, as Secretary of State, in negotiating the Vatican's concordat with Germany in 1933. These facts were universally known when Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli was elected Pope on March 2, 1939. How did Jews around the world react to his election? Were they concerned by his former ties to Germany?

In a March 6, 1939 editorial, "Leadership for Peace," the Palestine Post in Jerusalem said: "Pius XII has clearly shown that he intends to carry on the late Pope's [Pius XI] work for freedom and peace... we remember that he must have had a large part to play in the recent Papal opposition to pernicious race theories and certain aspects of totalitarianism..."

In praising Cardinal Pacelli's election, the Jewish Chronicle in London on March 10, quoted an anti-Nazi speech he delivered in Lourdes in April 1935 and the hostile statements expressed about him in the Nazi press. "It is interesting to recall... on January 22 [1939], the Voelkischer Beobachter published pictures of Cardinal Pacelli and other Church dignitaries beneath a collective heading of 'Agitators in the Vatican against Fascism and National Socialism,"' the Jewish Chronicle noted.

Also on March 10, the Canadian Jewish Chronicle commended the College of Cardinals for resisting Nazi attempts to influence the election and prevent Cardinal Pacelli from becoming Pope. "The plot to pilfer the Ring of Fisherman has gone up in white smoke," the editorial quipped.

Many Jewish organizations also expressed their enthusiasm for the new Pope. According to the Jewish Chronicle in London (March 10), the Vatican received congratulatory messages from "the Anglo-Jewish Community, the Synagogue Council of America, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the Polish Rabbinical Council."

Pius XII's decision to appoint Luigi Cardinal Maglione as the Vatican's new Secretary of State also brought favorable reactions. The March 16, 1939 Zionist Review in London said that the Cardinal's appointment "confirms the view that the new Pope means to conduct an anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist policy."

Certainly, such statements made by Jewish newspapers and organizations show they considered the newly elected Pope Pius XII a friend of democracy and peace, and an enemy of racism and totalitarianism. Cardinal Pacelli's role in negotiating the concordat with the Nazis did not cause any concern. Instead, many Jews cited his anti-Nazi speeches, and his role as Vatican Secretary of State, which helped produce the 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge, and numerous protests against the persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany.

Less than two months after World War II broke out, on October 27, Pius XII issued his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus. On the same day, the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the equivalent of the Associated Press, reported that, "the unqualified condemnation which Pope Pius XII heaped on totalitarian, racist and materialistic theories of government in his encyclical Summi Pontificatus caused a profound stir... Although it had been expected that the Pope would attack ideologies hostile to the Catholic Church, few observers had expected so outspoken a document..."

In a November 9, 1939 editorial, "Endowed with Reason," the American Israelite in Cincinnati also discussed the encyclical. "In decrying totalitarianism, Pope Pius XII called the individual the end and the state the means of bringing out the fundamental equality of men because men are endowed with reason," the editorial said. "This concept of democracy is reiterated in the Pope's Encyclical, stressing again the inviolability of the human person as a sacred being..."

In January 1940, the United Jewish Appeal for Refugees and Overseas Needs donated $125,000 to the Vatican in order to assist its efforts on behalf of all victims of racial persecution. On January 19, the Jewish Ledger in Hartford, Connecticut described the United Jewish Appeal's gift as an "eloquent gesture," which "should prove an important step in the direction of cementing the bonds of sympathy and understanding" between Catholics and Jews. An account of how the money was spent is in the Vatican's official wartime documents, Actes et documents du Saint Siege relatifs a la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, (Vol. VI, pp. 282-283.)

On January 26, 1940, the Jewish Advocate in Boston reported, "The Vatican radio this week broadcast an outspoken denunciation of German atrocities in Nazi [occupied] Poland, declaring they affronted the moral conscience of mankind." Exiled Polish Cardinal August Hlond of Gnezo and Poznan had given the Vatican detailed reports about the Nazi persecution of the Church in Poland. On the Pope's orders, Vatican Radio broadcast the cardinal's reports. The front-page story quoted one Vatican Radio broadcast as saying, "Jews and Poles are being herded into separate ghettos, hermetically sealed and pitifully inadequate for the economic subsistence of the millions designed to live there." This broadcast was also important because it gave independent confirmation of media reports about Nazi atrocities, which were previously dismissed as Allied propaganda.

Also, on January 26, the Canadian Jewish Chronicle published a brief item about Jacob Freedman, a Boston tailor. Mr. Freedman was concerned about the fate of his sister and nephews in German-occupied Poland. He wrote the State Department and the Red Cross, but they were unable to provide any information. Mr. Freedman then sought Pope Pius XII's assistance.

Several months later, Cardinal Maglione informed Mr. Freedman that his family were alive and well in Warsaw. "I don't know the words to express what I feel, that they should take an interest in us with all the other things in the world to worry them, " said Mr. Freedman. "I think it's the finest, most wonderful thing." According to Pinchas Lapide's 1967 book, Three Popes and the Jews, the Vatican Information Office helped tens of thousands of Jews locate missing relatives in Europe.

On March 14, 1940, the Jewish Chronicle in London commented on Pope Pius XII's conditions for a "just and honorable peace," which he articulated in his 1939 Christmas message. The Chronicle said that the Pope's conditions, especially the protection of racial minorities, were a "welcome feature," and praised him for standing up for "rights of the common man."

Also, in March, Italy's anti-Semitic laws went into effect, and many Jews were dismissed from the government, universities, and other professions. In response, Pius XII appointed several displaced Jewish scholars, including geographer Prof. Roberto Almagia, to posts in the Vatican Library. The March 29 Kansas City Jewish Chronicle said that the Pope's actions showed "his disapproval of the dastardly anti-Semitic decrees."

On April 29, 1941, a group of Jewish refugees interned at an Italian concentration camp thanked Pius XII after being visited by Bishop Francesco Borgognini-Duca, the papal nuncio in Italy. The prisoners wrote that the nuncio's visit gave them "new courage to go on living," and they described the Pope as a "revered personality who has stood up for the rights of all afflicted and powerless people." (Actes, VIII, pp. 178-179).

On January 2, 1942, the front page of the California Jewish Voice published a report on the Pope's 1941 Christmas address. "Religious persecution and oppression of minorities must have no place in the world of the future, declared Pope Pius XII in his annual Christmas Eve message," the article said.

By early 1942, the Nazis began to implement their plans to exterminate the Jews. The Vatican had no practical way of bringing these plans to a halt, but sought to assist endangered Jews and other victims on a case-by-case basis. This assistance ranged from actively opposing the deportations to meeting the material and spiritual needs of refugees. For example, on April 14, 1942, Rabbi Naftali Adler and Dr. Max Pereles, the representatives of thousands of Jewish refugees interned at the Ferramonti concentration camp in southern Italy, sent a letter of thanks to the Pope, who sent "an abundant supply of clothing and linen" to the children at the camp, and took care of the prisoners' other needs. "This noble and generous gift proves anew what the whole world knows and admires that Your Holiness is... also the paternal guardian and promoter of the ideal of humanity for all mankind," they wrote. (Actes, VIII, pp. 505-507).

In 1942, Croatia's Jews were being brutally persecuted by the Nazi-installed dictatorship. On August 4, Chief Rabbi Miroslav Freiberger of Zagreb, Croatia's capital, sought more assistance from Pius XII. Already, the Vatican's unofficial diplomatic representative in Croatia, Msgr. Joseph Marcone, who was acting on Cardinal Maglione's instructions, and Archbishop Alois Stepinac opposed the anti-Jewish persecutions. In his letter, Chief Rabbi Freiberger appreciated "the limitless goodness that the representatives of the Holy See and the leaders of the Church showed to our poor brothers." (Actes, VIII, p. 611). Throughout the war, the Chief Rabbi continued to express his gratitude to the Vatican for helping Croatian Jews.

The deportations of French Jews also began in late July 1942. Msgr. Valerio Valeri, the papal nuncio in France, protested the deportations with Marshall Henri Philippe Petain and Prime Minister Pierre Laval in August. The nuncio's intervention became publicly known by the end of the month. On August 28, the California Jewish Voice said, "Pope Pius XII has asked the Papal Nuncio at Vichy to protest to the Laval Government against 'the inhuman arrests and deportations' of Jews in France... Previously, reports from Geneva had indicated that the Pope had tried, though vainly, to use his good offices in Slovakia to prevent deportations and other cruelties."

The Voice’s account is confirmed by the Actes. On October 31, 1941, Cardinal Maglione had given Msgr. Valeri and Pierre Cardinal Gerlier of Lyon a blank check to "tone down" the practical application of the anti-Semitic laws, which would include any deportations. In April 1942, the Vatican protested the deportations of Slovak Jews with a note to the Slovak Government.

Although Msgr. Valeri actually made the protest, the Jewish press understood that he was acting on behalf of Pius XII. In a September II editorial, the Jewish Chronicle in London said, "The Pope's action is also a striking affirmation of the dictum of one of the Pope's predecessors that no true Christian can be an anti-Semite..."

In his 1942 Christmas message, the Pope condemned the treatment of "hundreds of thousands who, without any fault on their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race, are marked down for death or a progressive extinction." The Pope's defenders argue that this was a clear reference to the Holocaust. The Pope's detractors insist that he didn't go far enough, and should have condemned the Nazis by name. But the Nazis understood the Pope very clearly. "In a manner never known before the Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order," complained a January 22, 1943 report by the Reich Central Security Office. "Here he is virtually accusing the German people of injustice towards the Jews, and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals." (Anthony Rhodes, The Vatican in the Age of Dictators (1973), pp. 272-273). I was unable to find any references to the Pope's address in the many Jewish newspapers that I examined. However, in a January 20, 1943 letter to Msgr. Arthur Hughes, the apostolic delegate in Egypt, Chaim Barlas, the Jewish Agency's Turkish Representative, wrote, "The highly humanitarian attitude of His Saintety [meaning, Holiness] expressing His indignation against racial persecutions, was a source of comfort for our brethren." (Actes, IX, p. 90). If Pius XII was "silent" in the literal sense of the word, then the Reich Central Security Office and Chaim Barlas could not have made these conclusions.

In late 1942, Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog of Jerusalem sought the Pope's intervention to rescue Jews from the Nazis. On February 12, 1943, the Vatican's reply to Chief Rabbi Herzog was noted on the front page of the California Jewish Voice. "The Vatican this week cabled Chief Rabbi Herzog, assuring him that it is doing everything possible for all the victims of Nazi persecution, including the Jews," the article said. The Jewish Chronicle in London and the Australian Jewish News also reported the Vatican's assurance to the Chief Rabbi.

On April 16, 1943, the Australian Jewish News published a brief article about Cardinal Gerlier, who had strongly opposed the deportations of French Jews, and was sheltering Jewish children. The article quoted the cardinal as saying that he was obeying Pius XII's instructions by continuing to oppose France's anti-Semitic measures.

In his June 2 address to the College of Cardinals, Pope Pius XII spoke up again. He referred to persons "tormented as they are, because of their nationality or their race... delivered, without any fault on their part, to measures of extermination." The July 16, 1943 Jewish Chronicle in London published a slightly different version of these words on its front page under the title, "The Pope's Solicitude."

On September 24, Alex Easterman, the British representative of the World Jewish Congress, contacted Msgr. William Godfrey, the apostolic delegate in London. Easterman informed him that about 4,000 Jewish refugees from Croatia were safely evacuated to an island in the Adriatic Sea. "I feel sure that efforts of your Grace and of the Holy See have brought about this fortunate result," Easterman wrote. (Actes, IX, pp. 488-489).

After Benito Mussolini's fall from power, the new Italian government surrendered to the Allies in September 1943. German troops occupied Italy, including Rome, in order to stop the Allied offensive. During the occupation of Rome, the Nazis threatened to arrest Roman Jews unless their leaders paid them 50 kilograms of gold. When the Roman Jews were able to raise only 42 kilograms of gold, they turned to the Pope, who agreed to provide the balance. Meanwhile, the Jews raised the balance from ordinary Catholics and informed the Vatican that the Pope's contribution was not needed. On October 28, 1943, however, the Palestine Post in Jerusalem noted Pius XII's offer on the front page under the headline, "The Pope's Gift to the Jews."

On October 16, the Nazis also seized about 1,000 Jews and deported them to Auschwitz. On October 29 Jewish Chronicle in London reported the Vatican's response to the arrests: "The Vatican has made strong representations to the German Government and the German High Command in Italy against the persecution of Jews in Nazi-occupied Italy..."

This account of the Vatican's actions was exactly correct. On Pius XII's orders, Cardinal Maglione made an immediate protest with Germany's Ambassador. Bishop Alois Hudal, the Rector of the German Catholic Church in Rome, protested the arrests of Jews with the German Military Governor of Rome. Along with the Vatican's protests, 4,700 Jews disappeared into Rome's convents, monasteries and the Vatican itself. The remaining 2,300 Jews were able to find shelter elsewhere because Vatican protests brought the round-ups to an end.

By 1943, the Vatican's many rescue efforts on behalf of Jews were being universally acknowledged. In the fall of 1943, the Jewish communities of Chile, Uruguay, and Bolivia sent letters to Pope Pius XII, and thanked him for assisting Jews (Actes, IX, pp. 498, 501-502, and 567).

The 1943-1944 American Jewish Yearbook said that Pius XII "took an unequivocal stand against the oppression of Jews throughout Europe." In his February 18, 1944 letter to Msgr. Amleto Cicognani, the apostolic delegate in Washington, D.C., Rabbi Maurice Perlzweig, the political director of the World Jewish Congress, wrote that "the repeated interventions of the Holy Father on behalf of Jewish Communities in Europe has evoked the profoundest sentiments of appreciation and gratitude from Jews throughout the world." (Actes, X, p. 140).

Two important Jewish leaders who worked with the Vatican to save Jews also expressed similar sentiments. "The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of true civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in this most tragic hour of history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world," Chief Rabbi Herzog declared on February 28. (Actes, X, p. 292). In his April 7 letter to the papal nuncio in Romania, Chief Rabbi Alexander Shafran of Bucharest wrote, "It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the Supreme Pontiff, who offered a large sum to relive the sufferings of deported Jews... The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance..." (Actes, X, pp. 291-292).

In June 1944, two separate events helped establish the Pope's reputation as a rescuer of Jews, at least temporarily. When the Allies liberated Rome, thousands of Jews came out of their hiding places, and told the world of their salvation by the Vatican. On June 25, the Pope openly protested the deportations of Hungarian Jews.

The many tributes to Pius XII began in July. "It is gradually being revealed that Jews have been sheltered within the walls of the Vatican during the German occupation of Rome," reported the July 7 Jewish News in Detroit. A July 14 editorial in the Congress Weekly, the official journal of the American Jewish Congress, added that the Vatican also provided Jewish refugees with kosher food.

Also on July 14, American Hebrew in New York published an interview with Chief Rabbi Israel Zolli of Rome. "The Vatican has always helped the Jews and the Jews are very grateful for the charitable work of the Vatican, all done without distinction of race," Rabbi Zolli said. After the war, Rabbi Zolli converted to Catholicism, which brought him much severe criticism from some Jews. Dr. Zolli's conversion was widely attributed to his gratitude for what the Pope did for Jews. In his 1954 memoirs, Before the Dawn, however, Dr. Zolli strongly denied this assertion. Instead, he claimed to have witnessed a vision of Christ, who called him to the faith.

A week later on July 21, the Vatican received telegrams from the National Jewish Welfare Board and the World Jewish Congress. The National Jewish Welfare Board expressed its gratitude to the Pope for "the aid and protection given to so many Italian Jews by the Vatican..." (Actes, X, pp. 358-359). The World Jewish Congress also acknowledged the Vatican's "noble humanitarian work" on behalf of Hungarian Jews. (Actes, X, pp. 359).

The deportations of Hungarian Jews horrified the Allied and neutral nations. The American Jewish Committee and other Jewish groups organized a rally in Manhattan's Madison Square Park on July 31 to mobilize public opinion against the deportations. In his address, Judge Joseph Proskauer, the Committee's president, declared, "We have heard... what a great part the Holy Father has played in the salvation of the refugees in Italy, and we know from sources that must be credited that this great Pope has reached forth his mighty and sheltering hand to help the oppressed of Hungary." (Speech obtained from American Committee Library in Manhattan).

During the following months, Rabbi Stephen Wise, the president of the American Jewish Congress, Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz of the British Empire, composer Irving Berlin, Congressman Emmanuel Cellar of Brooklyn, the Emergency Committee to Save the Jews of Europe, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, and the World Agudas Organization also lauded Pius XII for helping endangered Jews. At the time, Rabbi Wise also condemned Christian indifference toward the extermination of Jews.

With Rome liberated, the Pope frequently greeted Allied soldiers. During one meeting, he blessed a Jewish soldier from Palestine in Hebrew. In the Congress Weekly (October 20, 1944), Elias Gilner found great significance in this event. Gilner wrote that the Pope's blessing "becomes a memorable act, a far-flung message of good-will, an expression of the Christian spirit at its highest." Gilner added that Pius XII by this blessing also began a "new course" in Catholic-Jewish relations.

The tributes to Pope Pius XII from Jews continued after the war in Europe ended. On April 22, 1945, Moshe Sharrett, the future Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Israel sent a report of his meeting with the Pope to the Executive of the Jewish Agency. Sharrett wrote that "my first duty was to thank him, and through him, the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public, for all they had done in the various countries to rescue Jews, to save children, and Jews in general." (Lapide, pp. 225-226)

On October 11, the World Jewish Congress donated $20,000 to Vatican charities. According to the New York Times (October 12, 1945), the gift was "made in recognition of the work of the Holy See in rescuing Jews from Fascist and Nazi persecution." Although the current leaders of the World Jewish Congress have a much different view of the Vatican's wartime actions, they never retracted that recognition.

During a St. Louis conference on the plight of displaced Jewish refugees on March 17, 1946, William Rosenwald, the chairman of the United Jewish Appeal for Refugees, Overseas Needs and Palestine, said, "I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Pope Pius for his appeal in behalf of the victims of war and oppression. He provided aid for Jews in Italy and intervened in behalf of refugees to lighten their burden." (New York Times, March 18, 1946.) The previous week, the Pope granted Mr. Rosenwald an audience. According to Mr. Rosenwald, the Pope said that Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees should be allowed to resettle in the United States.

In an article for Commentary (November 1950), French scholar and Holocaust survivor Leon Poliakov discussed the Vatican's conduct during the war. Poliakov suggested that the Vatican during the Holocaust retreated to its "medieval tradition" of protecting Jews from state persecution. "There is no doubt that secret instructions went out from the Vatican urging the national churches to intervene in favor of the Jews by every possible means," Poliakov wrote. In fact, according to Volumes VI, VIII, IX, and X of the Actes, these instructions were sent to the Vatican's many diplomatic representatives.

Still, Poliakov was troubled because he believed that Pius XII's public statements were too vague. But Poliakov conceded the argument that "public protests would have brought no help to the victims, and might have produced contrary effects." He cited the tragic case of Holland where the protests against the deportations of Jews by the Dutch Catholic bishops in 1942 led to the arrest of Catholic Jews, who were previously spared for deportation by the Nazis.

In 1955, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, which was composed of Jewish refugees from many nations, toured Italy. The Orchestra performed a concert at the Vatican on May 26, 1955. According to the Jerusalem Post (May 29, 1955), "Conductor Paul Klecki had requested that the Orchestra on its first visit to Italy play for the Pope as a gesture of gratitude for the help his Church had given to all those persecuted by Nazi Fascism."

In 1957, the Pope received a delegation from the American Jewish Committee. The New York Times on June 29, 1957 reported that the Committee's representatives described the Pope as a "great friend" in the battle against racism and anti-Semitism in the United States. The Pope also praised the Committee's work, and issued a strong statement condemning anti-Semitism.

Pope Pius XII died on October 8, 1958. Many Jewish organizations and newspapers around the world mourned his passing, and recalled his wartime efforts to rescue Jews. At the United Nations, Golda Meir, Israel's Foreign Minister, said, "When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict." The Zionist Record (October 17) in South Africa published Meir's moving eulogy along with tributes from Jewish organizations to the late Pope.

"Adherents of all creeds and parties will recall how Pius XII faced the responsibilities of his exalted office with courage and devotion," declared the Jewish Chronicle in London on October 10. "Before, during, and after the Second World War, he constantly preached the message of peace. Confronted by the monstrous cruelties of Nazism, Fascism, and Communism, he repeatedly proclaimed the virtues of humanity and compassion."

In the Canadian Jewish Chronicle (October 17), Rabbi J. Stern recalled that Pius XII "made it possible for thousands of Jewish victims of Nazism and Fascism to be hidden away..." In the November 6 edition of the Jewish Post in Winnipeg, William Zukerman, the former American Hebrew columnist, wrote that no other leader "did more to help the Jews in their hour of greatest tragedy, during the Nazi occupation of Europe, than the late Pope."

Representatives of the World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, Synagogue Council of America, New York Board of Rabbis, the Anti-Defamation League, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, Rabbinical Council of America, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations also gracefully eulogized Pope Pius XII. The Chief Rabbis of London, Rome, Jerusalem, France, Egypt, Argentina and many other Jewish newspapers also paid tribute to the late Pope.

How do Pius XII's detractors explain these many statements of praise from Jews? They prefer to ignore them. Any acknowledgment of these tributes immediately undermines the case against him.

Instead, critics always focus on the Pope's "silence" without discussing what he actually said during the war, and how his addresses were received by all sides; insist that the Pope did little or nothing to help Jews escape from the Nazis; exclusively cite authors who attack him while ignoring those who defend him; and assign him sinister motives by using suspicion and a selective interpretation of evidence.

Recently, in Commentary (July/August 1999), Prof. Robert Wistrich argued that it is unfair to cite these tributes from Jews because damaging evidence against the Pope was discovered after his death. But that argument ignores the fact that many post-war revelations have been very favorable toward the Pope. In 1946, the Vatican newspaper confirmed that Pius XII in 1940 had acted as an intermediary between a group of German generals who wanted to overthrow Adolf Hitler and the British government. The release of documents from the British Foreign Office years later also confirmed his role in "The Generals' Plot." The 1953 publication of The Undeclared War by William Langer and S. Everett Gleason disclosed the Pope's surprising 1941 concession to President Franklin Roosevelt that American Catholics could support the extension of the Lend-Lease program to the Soviet Union.

The conclusions of the first generation of authors critical of the Pope like Rolf Hochhuth, Guenther Lewy, Saul Friedlander and Carlo Falconi were invalidated by the complete publication of the 11 volumes of the Actes. Unfortunately, these volumes, which detail the Vatican's relations with all the belligerent governments and assistance given to all the victims of the war, have been either ignored or downplayed by historians and journalists.

Many Jewish organizations had no reservations about attacking Father Charles Coughlin, the anti-Semitic radio broadcaster. If these same organizations were actually displeased with Pius XII's actions, as Father John Pawlikoski suggested in Commonweal (July 17, 1998), then why did they continue to publicly honor the Pope throughout the war and beyond? How could Jews on six continents have been so tragically mistaken about one man? Could they all have been either blissfully ignorant or extremely disingenuous?

Many Catholics have been puzzled by the fact that many of the same Jewish organizations that condemn Pius XII today once never passed up an opportunity to praise him. What could have caused the vast shift in Jewish attitudes toward the late Pope?

Some Catholic writers point to the influence of Rolf Hochhuth's 1963 play, The Deputy, which presented the Pope as a cold-blooded Nazi collaborator who did nothing as six million Jews went to their death. However, allegations that the Vatican collaborated with the Nazis did not begin with Hochhuth. While Pius XII was still alive, anti-Catholic authors like Avro Manhattan (The Vatican in World Politics, 1949) and Paul Blanshard (American Freedom and Catholic Power, 1949) condemned his actions during World War II. Although Manhattan and Blanshard found isolated audiences in some Protestant and fundamentalist Christian circles, many Jews continued to have a favorable impression of the wartime Pope.

Other cultural shifts in society ensured that Hochhuth's demonic portrait would become accepted as conventional wisdom. Shortly after Hochhuth's play made its appearance, the movement known as the New Left marched across college campuses. The New Left was more than a political movement; it was also a cultural movement whose members seized influential positions in the universities, the media and the entertainment industry. The Catholic Church strongly opposed the New Left's social agenda of legal abortion, contraception and sexual promiscuity. Activists needed a weapon to undermine the Catholic Church's moral authority and influence. "The silence of Pius XII" provided such a powerful weapon, and it was used at every possible opportunity. What right would a Church that failed to oppose the mass murder of Jews have to teach morality to anyone? A few years ago, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized US Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders for her pro-abortion views. Dr. Elders responded by noting the Catholic Church's indifference toward both slavery and the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, Jewish organizations have never sufficiently explained why they changed their minds about the Pope. A clear answer may never be known unless Jewish organizations finally provide honest and convincing explanations after nearly 40 years of evasion.

Could attitudes shift again? It's possible. In the last several years, many Catholic newspapers and magazines have been zealously defending Pius XII's reputation. The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights has also been successful in bringing the debate over the Vatican's wartime role into the mainstream media. In his new book, Never Again: A History' of the Holocaust, acclaimed Holocaust historian Sir Martin Gilbert identifies the Vatican as one of the European governments that protected Jews. Prof. William Rubinstein's book, The Myth of Rescue (1997), which received substantial attention and criticism, argues that the Allies and Vatican could not have saved more Jewish lives. Rubinstein's sobering conclusion that the, "responsibility for the Holocaust lies solely and wholly with Adolf Hitler, the SS and their accomplices, and with no one else," represents a return to reason.

It may take a generation to restore Pope Pius XII's good name. However, more and more people today are recognizing that he acted like a Good Samaritan during World War II. When the Pope failed to prevent the start of the war, he immediately devoted himself to alleviating the physical and spiritual suffering of countless numbers of innocent victims regardless of their race or faith. As the late Father Robert Graham, S.J. wrote, the many tributes the Pope received from Jews around the world are a witness to both his efforts and his character.

(Cavalli is a freelance writer based in New York, with an M.A. from Catholic University. He is grateful to the Rev. Matthew Flood, S.J. of Fordham Prep in the Bronx, New York and to Angelo Sedacca for translating a number of documents from the Actes into English. The Jewish newspapers cited are on microfilm at the New York Public Library's Jewish Division.)


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The importance of union with the See of Peter

 Modernism’s Dirty Secret: A Case Study
  By Dr. Jeff Mirus | February 23, 2010 12:12 PM

Sometimes good things come in strange packages. I was looking through Derek Hastings’ new book Catholicism & the Roots of Nazism (Oxford University Press, 2010) to figure out what his arresting title could possibly mean. Hastings demonstrates beyond doubt that before the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923, significant segments of Catholic clergy and faithful in Munich were among the most important supporters of National Socialism, very much in tune with its increasing emphasis on Aryan racial supremacy and its contempt for Jews.

It turns out, however, that this Catholic support was prevalent in Munich precisely because Munich’s Catholicism was significantly different from the Catholicism of most other areas of Germany. Many Munich Catholics intensely disliked the ultramontane perspective of most other German Catholics, who increasingly saw the Holy See as their one hope against an increasingly anti-Catholic German state. The more irenic Catholic leaders in Munich often dismissed this tendency to look toward Rome as “political Catholicism”. Instead, they attempted to articulate what they euphemistically called “religious Catholicism”, which would concentrate on non-controversial spiritual affairs, would seek to define a more broadly acceptable national presence, and would champion the rights of the lower classes.

It has been frequently and truthfully admitted that the European Church in the 19th and early 20th century had a tendency to cling to what might be called old European politics—the power and privilege of the aristocracy—in a Europe which was giving way to the sometimes religiously-hostile control of the middle class. It took Leo XIII’s landmark social encyclical Rerum Novarum to reawaken the Church to both the errors and the dangers of an excessive attachment to the old order. It is also true that Catholics in southern Germany (including Munich) were more numerous and felt less isolated and ill used than those in the north. So there was, as there always is, room for differences in opinion about Catholic political strategy.

But the most important factor in Munich was that Catholics there were infected with a strong strain of Modernism. As famously articulated early on by Fr. Ignaz von Döllinger, this Modernism held Neo-Scholastic orthodox philosophy and theology in contempt, it regarded Roman culture as “feminine” and inferior, and it prized the superior spirit and power of the German people. In other words, like Modernism everywhere and in every form, this strain latched on to the prevailing spirit of the times. Such ideas, and the vehemence with which they were expressed, led Döllinger to be excommunicated, but his followers and successors quickly learned the value of staying within the Church if they hoped to have the influence they thought they deserved.

Thus it was that many Catholics in Munich began to downplay their ties to Rome and to shape a Catholicism which they believed could effectively harness the zeitgeist—the growing sense of German superiority and the superiority of the Aryan race, the need for national unity and strength, and the scapegoating of those regarded as serious obstacles to Germanic progress, namely Jews. In the wake of Germany’s difficulties in World War I, these feelings and this Catholic movement intensified. To a considerable degree Catholic sentiment in Munich favored Hitler in his earliest period. It was widely thought that a new “religious Catholicism” would play a leading role in a new, powerful and vibrant German nation. “Religious Catholicism” gradually morphed into National Socialism’s broader early association with what it called “positive Christianity”.

After the failed Putsch in Munich, however, it became increasingly clear that National Socialism was going to head in an anti-Catholic and ultimately anti-Christian direction. Catholic influence waned rapidly. So did Catholic participation.

The key point in all this is that Catholics got involved in the first place primarily through the perversion of their Faith known as Modernism. Modernism reinterprets religion in terms of the “signs” or “spirit” of the times and so Modernists continually redefine the meaning of Catholicism to ally it with those dominant cultural movements which appear so certainly to be the wave of the future. As a rule, Modernism has no analytical power whatsoever. It accepts prevailing opinion as an ongoing revelation through the lived experience of each new age, and it seeks to accommodate it. Again, insofar as it remains attached in some way to the Church and the Faith, Modernism reinterprets the Faith according to these leading cultural ideas.

In today’s world, therefore, Modernists seek always to give a religious veneer to sexual liberation, international power, and the persecution of Fundamentalists. But in early twentieth-century Munich, Modernism gave a religious veneer to Aryan eugenics, national power and the persecution of Jews. Its manifestations vary with time and place, but its alliance is always with the spirit of the world.

Note that Modernism’s dirty secret is not that early-20th century German Modernists threw their quasi-Catholic support behind ideas that now seem particularly repulsive, but that Modernists always throw their quasi-Catholic support behind whatever is fashionable, without the least capability of discerning whether it is also good. Modernism is driven by what “everybody knows”; as such it has no need of cogent arguments. But this also means it can be right only coincidentally, when the leading ideas of the current culture are right. And so Modernism’s dirty little secret is that, apart from coincidence, it is always arrogant, always destructive and always wrong.

[Note: Although Derek Hastings’ study falls well outside the normal range of recommendations for, Catholicism & The Roots of Nazism: Religious Identity & National Socialism is a sound scholarly account of the links between Modernist Catholicism and National Socialism up until 1923. Though the book is provocatively titled, Hastings knows the difference between orthodoxy and Modernism. Specialists will find his work valuable.]


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Mary MacKillop to be canonized by the Pope in October


 VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At 11 a .m. today in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father presided at an ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the following Blesseds:

  - Stanislao Soltys, called Kazimierczyk, Polish professed religious of the Order of Canons Regular Lateranense (1433-1489).

  - Andre Bessette (ne Alfred), Canadian professed religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1845-1937).

  - Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juana Josefa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912).

  - Mary of the Cross MacKillop (nee Mary Helen), Australian foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1842-1909).

   - Giulia Salzano, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart (1846-1929).

  - Battista da Varano (nee Camilla), professed nun of the Order of Poor Clares and foundress of the monastery of St. Clare in the Italian town of Camerino (1458-1524).

   At the end of the meeting, the Pope announced that the canonisation ceremony will take place on 17 October.


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Vatican Secret Archives Documents Going Online

Pave the Way Foundation Proposal Approved

By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2010 ( The Holy See is planning to publish on the Internet, free of charge, several documents from the Vatican Secret Archives in relation to World War II.

The initiatives is partially in response to a petition from Pave the Way Foundation, an organization dedicated to bridging gaps between religions.

The foundation proposed making digital files of, and later publicizing, some 5125 descriptions and copies of documents from the closed section of the Vatican archives, from the period of March 1939 to May 1945.

Gary Krupp, the foundation's president and founder, told ZENIT that "the 'Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs a la Seconde Guerre Mondiale [Acts and Documents of the Holy See relative to the Second World War],'" which were "previously published and mostly ignored," will "shortly be available for worldwide scrutiny and study online, free of charge."

He explained that these documents will be available on the Web site of his foundation as well as that of the Vatican.

This project is part of the mission of the foundation, a non-sectarian organization that works to remove obstacles between religions, foster cooperation and to end the misuse of religion for private agendas.

The organization's president, who is from New York but of Jewish decent, stated, "In the furtherance of our mission we have recognized the papacy of the war time Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) as a source of friction impacting over one billion people."

A plot

"Controversy abounds on whether he did enough to prevent the slaughter of Jews at the hands of the Nazis," Krupp affirmed.

He continued: "Our research has revealed that five years after Pius XII's death, the KGB hatched a plot to discredit their enemy, the Roman Catholic Church, called 'Seat 12.'

"A dirty trick, which condemned Pope Pius XII for his 'silence' during the Holocaust in the form of Rolf Hochhuth's fictitious 1963 play 'The Deputy.' The result was the worst character assassination of the twentieth century."

Based on his foundation's research, Krupp stated that in 1964, Pope Paul VI asked a team of three Jesuit historians, Father Pierre Blet, Father Burkhart Schneider, and Father Angelo Martini, to "conduct intensive research to identify relevant documents from the war years from the closed section of the Vatican Secret Archives."

He added: "A few years later Father Robert Graham joined the group. The first volume was published in 1965, the last in 1981."

Krupp explained that in 1999, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, at that time the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, called for a special commission of Jewish and Catholic scholars to come together to study these documents.

"This positive advance unfortunately ended July 21, 2001 in failure," he added, "partly because the scholars simply did not read the languages of the collection."

"They issued a list of 47 questions and demanded the opening of the yet un-catalogued archives" from the 1939-1958 period, the foundation president said.

He stated that his foundation "sought to gain permission to digitize this collection, making it broadly available for study" so as to further "our mission to publicly disclose as many documents as possible to help to move this obstacle between Jews and Catholics into the light of documented truth."

Black legend

Krupp explained that "this effort is simply to show clear evidence of Pope Pius XII's efforts to mitigate suffering during the war and that the 'black legend,' which besmirched his name, is simply not true."

He added that this initiative is "not meant to be a substitute for the full access" to the archives, "but will absolutely show the unique efforts of Pope Pius XII and the dangers he was forced to operate under a direct threat from the Nazi regime."

"Ironically," he said "the Vatican Secret Archives [from the period prior] to 1939 were opened over two years ago," and they showed that "65% of Pacelli's ministry has simply been ignored by the critics who call for the war years to be opened."

On behalf of the foundation, the president expressed gratitude to the Pope's Secretary of State and the Libreria Editrice Vaticana "for their confidence in us by allowing us this unprecedented privilege."

He continued: "We sincerely hope that international historians will carefully scrutinize these records. We expect the digitization process of over 9000 pages will take about four weeks to complete [at which time] we will announce their posting on Internet."

In the meantime, the foundation already has thousands of documents and eyewitness videos available on their Web site for study.

Krupp concluded by requesting that "French, Italian and German scholars consider helping us by translating documents into English and forward this work to Pave the Way Foundation so that we can make the information available to more scholars for research."

He added, "We also would like to receive any comments, positive or negative, relative to the content of these documents."

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."