Skip to comments.[Pope] Francis 'Will Open Files on Hitler's Pope', Says Friend
Posted on 04/19/2013 9:17:41 AM PDT by marshmallow
Decades of doubt over the role played by "Hitler's Pope" under the Fascist regimes in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and 1940s may be answered if Pope Francis, as a close friend has suggested, opens the Vatican archives.
Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who has known the Argentine former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio for 20 years, said he had discussed the role of Pius XII the man long dubbed as "Hitler's Pope" at length with the new pontiff.
The Rabbi, who recently co-authored On Heaven and Earth, a book of interviews with his friend, said he had made clear that he thought Pius's legacy ought to be "investigated thoroughly".
"It's a terribly sensitive issue, but he says that it must be investigated thoroughly," he said. "I have no doubt that he will move to open the archives."
In an interview with The Tablet, Rabbi Skorka said he was convinced his friend who he predicted would be a "revolutionary" Pope favoured opening the archives to clarify once and for all Pius's role.
It follows decades of speculation about the extent to which Pius cooperated with the Fascist regime in Italy and Nazi Germany during his reign which began in 1939.
Critics have accused him of remaining silent over the holocaust a suspicion which has only been strengthened by the Vatican's refusal so far to give scholars access to the archives from his reign.
But there is also evidence that Pius may have helped arrange the exodus of 200,000 Jews from Germany in the 1930s.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
The rabbi is flogging his book. Don’t give him the time of day.
His efforts completely dwarf all others, including those of the Red Cross.
The foremost Jewish Scholar of the Holocaust at its height in Hungary, Jeno Levai, insisted some years ago that it was a "particularly regrettable irony that the one person in all of occupied Europe who did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences is today made the scapegoat for the failures of others."
The Israeli diplomat and scholar Pinchas Lapide concluded his careful review of Pius XIIs wartime activities with the following words: "The Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands."
He went on to add that this "figure far exceeds those saved by all other Churches and rescue organizations combined."
After recounting statements of appreciation from a variety of preeminent Jewish spokespersons, he noted. "No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews . . . .Several suggested in open letters that a Pope Pius XII forest of 860,000 trees be planted on the hills of Judea in order to fittingly honor the memory of the late Pontiff ("Three Popes and the Jews" pp. 214215)."
Levai in his own book did not hesitate to argue that the attacks on the Popes wartime record are "demonstrably malicious and fabricated . . . . The archives of the Vatican of diocesan authorities of Ribbentrops foreign ministry, contain a whole series of protestsdirect and indirect, diplomatic and public, secret and open. The nuncios and bishops of the Catholic Church intervened again and again on the instructions of the Pope," he wrote.
The former chief rabbi of Rome during the German occupation, Emilio Zolli, concluded his firsthand account of wartime events Hungarian Jews and the Papacy: in the following manner: "Volumes could be written on the multiform works of Pius XII, and the countless priests, religious and laity who stood with him throughout the world during the war." "No hero," he said, "in all of history was more militant, more fought against, none more heroic, than Pius XII in pursuing the works of true charity . . . and thus on behalf of all the suffering children of God."
Zolli was so moved by Pius XIIs work that he became a Catholic after the war and took the Popes name
Pinchas Lapide acknowledged in his book (Before the Dawn). that the Church "in an endless flood of sermons, allocutions, pastoral letters and encyclicals was a clear and unrelenting foe to all forms of racism at the time, and everyone knew itJews, Poles, Russians and most ominously the Nazi secret police." Their files mention recalcitrant Catholic clergy in this regard more than any other group.
The New York Times in its Christmas editorials of 1941 and 1942 praised Pius XII for his moral leadership as a "lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent" and for, among other things, assailing "the violent occupation of territory, and the exile and persecution of human beings, for no other reason than race."
Golda Meir, Israels representative to the United Nations, was the first of the delegates to react to the news of Pope Pius XIIs death. She sent an eloquent message: "We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. In a generation afflicted by wars and discords he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace."
Leonard Bernstein, on learning of Pope Pius XIIs death while conducting his orchestra in New Yorks Carnegie Hall, tapped his baton for a moment of silence to pay tribute to the Pope who had saved the lives of so many people without distinction of race, nationality, or religion.
The great Jewish physicist, Albert Einstein, who himself barely escaped annihilation at Nazi hands, made the point well in 1944 when he said, "Being a lover of freedom, when the Nazi revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, but the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to individual writers . . . . they too were mute. Only the Church," Einstein concluded, "stood squarely across the path of Hitlers campaign for suppressing the truth. . . . I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel great affection and admiration . . . . and am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly."
Hope this is helpful.
A beautifully summary of a great Pope, Pius XII -— I would call him “Pius the Just”. Thank you.
I’d be interested in how much Vatican support given Ustashi
We already know....a fair amount
Ping for later
Thanks much for your post.
It is sad that the attack on Pope Pius XII and continues. It constantly need strong refutation such as you’ve given here.
That is very, very helpful. Thanks for compiling all that information.
Peace be with you
THE SLANDER OF PIUS XII
The slanderous attacks against Pius XII and the Catholic Churchs handling of the Jewish Holocaust started in Germany in 1963 with Rolf Hochhuths play, Der Stellvertreter, (The Deputy) , which dealt with Pius XII and the Holocaust. Rolf was a Protestant who in his youth was a member of the Nazi Youth Organization and his father a member of the Nazi repressive apparatus.
At the time, many of the Jewish leaders who worked closely with the Pope in the rescue of the Jews were still alive and tried to correct the record, but to not avail. Jewish historian and senior Israeli diplomat, Pinchas Lapide, who was one of the foremost scholars in the matter, made a spirited defense of Pius record. Historian Jeno Levai, the only foreign Jew invited as an expert at the Eichman trial in Jerusalem, did speak in a courtroom in defense of Pius XII and repudiated Hochhuths judgment unreservedly.
The anti-Catholic bigotry became a full speed runaway train. Even more vicious films followed in 1973 to date. We saw recently a complete distortion of historical facts by a televised , “60 Minutes” ,program on Pius XII and the Holocaust. Open anti-Catholic bigotry is today the only “politically correct” accepted practice in the liberal press. The American taxpayers are even forced to pay for hatred art such as the one depicting a crucifix in a bucket of urine or a picture of the Virgin Mary among genitals and elephant dung, something that would never be allowed if that hatred were directed against Muslims, Jews, or members of any other religion.
Many bse their attacks the Catholic Church and the memory of Pope Pius XII in Rolf Hochhuths play, Der Stellvertreter, (The Deputy in Broadway). This play initiated in 1963 a campaign of denigration falsely accusing the Pope as responsible for Jewish deaths by failing to protest publicly Nazi atrocities.
History contradicts Hochhuths vicious slander. Already in 1945, Moshe Sharett, Israels first Foreign Minister, and later second Prime Minister, met Pius XII and said: I told him that my first duty was to thank him, and through him, the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish people, for all they had done in various countries to rescue Jews, to save children and Jews in general.
Jewish historian Paidiel, of the Yad Vashem, stated that monasteries, convents, shrines, and religious houses were opened to the fleeing Jews, and their needs attended to, without any overt intention to steer them away from their ancient faith, solely to abide by the preeminent religious command of the sanctity of life. Through this, they epitomized the best and most elevated form of religious faith and human fidelity.
Many anti-catholic bigots supports Hochhuths outrageous assertions, while dismissing public declarations of gratitude given by the founders of the Sate of Israel for the rescue of Jews sponsored by Pius XII and the Catholic Church alleging that such leaders were misinformed or playing politics. In fact, there is not a public figure in the world who has received so many expressions of gratitude and recognition by the Jewish community as Pius XII.
Jewish historian and leading authority on the Holocaust, Jeno Levai, has shown that the Pope did not remain silent when his word would save lives. Levai, the only foreign Jew invited as an expert at the Eichman trial in Jerusalem, spoke in defense of Pius XII in the courtroom and repudiated Hochhuths judgement unreservedly. In 1963, when the play opened, a number of diplomats accredited to the Vatican during the war publicly rejected the playwrights thesis, most notably among them, Dr. Robert M. Kempner, deputy chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.
Kemper, who had access to the Secret Services and of Hitlers Ministry of Foreign Affairs archives, revealed that Pius XII and the Catholic Church sent a great number of protests, direct and indirect, diplomatic and public, secret and explicit, to which the Nazis never responded. Kemper publicly defended the role and charity endeavors of Pius XII
Some of the most outspoken diplomats in defense of Pius XII were Wladimir dOrmesson, member of the French Academy, Albert von Kessel, attaché to the wartime German embassy, Ambassadors Grippenberg of Finland, Gunnar Haggelof of Sweden, and British Minister to the Vatican, Sir Francis dArcy Osborne. In point, Mr. DArcys letter in protest to the play was printed in the program for the West End performance of the Hochhuths play in London by order of the British government.
In The Deputy Hotchhouth tried to break the bond created during the war between Jews and Catholics. In his play The Soldiers, Hochhuth tried to implicate Winston Churchill in the death of General Wladyslaw Sikorski, President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces of the Polish government in exile in London. This time Hotchhouth didnt find an audience willing to accept such a foul slander, in stark contrast to the Pius XIIs smear that appeals to anti-Catholic bigots who are always ready to attack the Church no matter how preposterous the charges. David Frost (the famous English interviewer) discredited Hochhuth in front of television cameras.
General Sikorski died in a plane crash over Gibraltar and the unscrupulous playwright waited after the death of Winston Churchill to follow the same tactic of character assassination he used in his play written after the death of Pius XII. It seems that the former militant in the Nazi Youth movement couldnt get rid of the hatred towards Jews, Catholics and the Allied leaders, instilled in his soul by his Nazis indoctrinators.
PIUS XII THE POPE WHO WORKED IN SILENCE
IL SERVIZIO PETRINO - Frank Zammit (Malta)
September 1, 2012
The former American President Harry Truman said he was aggrieved when he received the news of Pacellis death, as he considered him the greatest statesman that the Vatican produced in the last 200 years.
In the era of the Second World War, the behavior of Pope Pius XII created and still creates a certain amount of controversy amongst scholars, by his perceived insufficient condemnation of Nazism and the extermination of the Jewish Community, in territories occupied by the Nazis during those six years of war.
Other scholars conclude, that his policy during that time of terror, was the best method he could have adopted in the best interest of the Catholic Church, and also of those Jews who were being persecuted in the Nazi Concentration camps.
Today I am not going to narrate the Popes life in biographical terms. Instead I would like to help readers follow this article based on continuous research hoping that after reading it readers will have a better appreciation of the good work done by Pope Pius XII with the Jews at the time of the Second World War.
One must not forget and must use as point of discussion, the praise that was heaped on Pius XII during the Second World War as well as the very positive appreciations from varied sources during the mourning period in the first few days after his death in 1958.
How did the evil campaign against the Pope begin?
Pacelli was not criticised after his death. In fact, I can say that the first few years after his death, he was highly praised as only few were before him. Some say this evil strategy against him was ignited by the KGB that exploited the work of the German Rolf Hochhut, who wrote and directed the drama The Deputy, A Christian Tragedy in 1963. In this drama, Hochhuth harshly criticized the role of Eugenio Pacelli during the Second World War. In 2007 Ion Mihai Pacepa, who was a former Russian spy, stated that this drama was part of the campaign to discredit the role of Pius XII and at the same time to disregard the many Jews he managed to save from Nazi persecution.
This drama was first shown in Berlin on 20th February 1963. It was also shown in England, Scotland, as well as in Broadway in the United States.
In 2002 Costas Gavras converted this drama to a film with the name Amen.
In 2005 Hochhut was at the centre of controversy when he declared that more women died in the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedys car in Chappaquiddick than in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. The President of the Central Jewish Council of Germany, Paul Spiegel, had argued that with this statement, Hochhut denied the Holocaust. After weeks of criticism Hochhut made a apology.
First encounter with the Jews
A young Eugenio Pacelli
The first experience of Eugenio Pacelli with the Jews dates back to his childhood. He describes the Jewish boy, Guido Mendes, as the greatest friend he ever had in his childhood. They had met in Liceo Visconti and after school they used to play at each others homes and exchange books. Later on, when anti-racial laws were introduced, Pacelli played a vital role for the escape of Mendes from Italy.
His career in the Church
Eugenio Pacelli whose grandfather and father had served Popes as their lawyers in the Roman Curia, made a brilliant career in the Santa Sede.
At the age of 25, a short while after he took the Holy Orders, he already served the Cardinal Secretary of the State, Pietro Gasparri, in the codification of the Canon Law.
At the age of 43, towards the end of the First World War in 1917, Pope Benedict XV appointed him as his Apostolic Nuncio in Bavaria. Three years later, Pius XI appointed him as his Apostolic Nuncio in Berlin.
It was at that time, both in the role of Apostolic Nuncio as well as in his later role as Cardinal Secretary of State, that he showed his moral strength against the extreme policies promulgated by Adolf Hitler.
Sister Pascalina Lehnart recalled how Archbishop Pacelli had already described Hitler as a madman and that was capable of trampling over whoever opposed him as early as 1929, when Eugenio Pacelli was still Apostolic Nuncio in Germany, four years before Hitler was elected to rule his country. Sister Pascalina, who assisted Pacelli for more than 30 years, continued that the Nuncio used to criticize the Germans who refused to recognize the evil that Hitler represented. (The memoires of Sister Pascalina Pio XII The pleasure of serving him Milan: Rusconi, 1984).
Out of 44 official speeches that Pacelli made as Apostolic Nuncio in Germany between 1917 and 1929, 40 of them criticized Nazism and its leader Adolf Hitler. Pacelli, who never met the Fuhrer, had described Nazism as modern paganism.
At that time, the Nazi media, lead by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, had nicknamed Pacelli as the Cardinal friend of Jews.
On the 28th April 1935, about 4 years before the Second World War began; Cardinal Pacelli made a speech that attracted the attention of the international media. While he addressed a crowd of about quarter of a million pilgrims in Lourdes, he highly criticized the Nazi Leaders thus continuing to build his credentials as an anti-Nazist.
Even though the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge was published by Pope Piju XI, various scholars hold that its text, continuously condemning Hitlers actions in Germany, was planned, master-minded and probably written by Eugenio Pacelli. It was then that the Nazis became aware that Eugenio Pacelli could be the successor of Pope Ratti, a possibility they were all set to prevent. A short while before, Pope Pius XI had published another encyclical Divini Redemptoris, which condemned Communism.
As Secretary of State of the Holy See, Pacelli wrote seventy letters of protests to the German Government on violations of the agreement signed in 1929 between the Holy See and the German Government.
As Secretary of State he censored the actions of the Austrian Cardinal, Thedore Innitzer, who had encouraged the Austrian nation to accept Adolf Hitler as their leader through the anchluss. Pacelli called Innitzer to Rome for a meeting with Pius XI where he was strongly warned to abstain from endorsing Hitlers politics. Innitzer later retracted what he had said.
The Pope and the Second World War
Following the death of Achille Ratti, Cardinal Pacelli was the automatic choice of the Cardinals who attended the Conclaves in March 1939. In fact, he was elected in the first day of the Conclave.
When Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope, the Nazi Government gave instructions to his Ambassador to the Holy See not to congratulate the new Pope in writing and to be careful not to use warm words in the first meeting with him while congratulating him.
Pacelli became the leader of the Catholics just months before the German Invasion of Poland. While he felt that the Nazis aggressive threats were going to lead to another great war, he still advocated a diplomatic solution. One cannot forget the memorable speech he made on the Vatican radio which began with the words:
The Venerable Pope Pius XII at the Vatican Radio
Nothing is lost through peace. Everything can be lost through war!
How not to mention the heated meeting of March, 1940 between Pius XII and the Nazi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joachim Von Ribbentrop? It was reported that the Head of Nazi Diplomacy was arrogant with the Pope and left the meeting suddenly ahead of time and without saluting the Pope.
Pope Pius XII spoke against the Nazi regime in his Christmas message in 1942, as well as in his speech to the Cardinals on 2nd June 1943.
Hitler ordered the kidnapping and assassination of Pius XII
In 1943 there was a risk that Pope Pius XII could be deported to Germany after the Nazis were forced to capture the Vatican City State. The Popes intention, in the event that he was captured, was to leave his resignation in a drawer in his studio, such that the Nazis would only have captured Cardinal Pacelli and not Pope Pius XII. The Cardinals, who were assigned to the various hierarchies of the Roman Curia, swore to the Pope that if he was taken prisoner, they were ready to follow him to Germany. This was confirmed by Fr Paolo Dezza S.J., who was later created Cardinal. Hitler assigned this barbaric act to General of SS, Karl Wolff. This officer sent the Fuhrer a plan executable within 6 weeks; however Hitler was disappointed as he had wanted it carried out within a few days.
The Vatican newspaper LOsservatore Romano reported that Hitler intended to assassinate Pius XII in revenge against the Italians who arrested his ally Benito Mussolini.
According to the reconstruction of the events, the plot was being planned at the Reichs General Headquarters in Berlin at the end of July 1943. The Vatican newspaper says Hitler wanted to teach Italy a lesson by deporting or killing the King of Italy and the pope.
However, the head of the German intelligence service at the time, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, decided to scuttle the operation. He told an Italian general who spread the word in Rome that the Nazis wanted to kill the pope. After that, the plan was abandoned.
Three years later, Admiral Canaris was executed for participating in Operation Walkyria, the failed plot to assassinate Hitler.
Admiral Wilhelm Canaris
Bernard Wall, a renowned expert in Holy See affairs described in one of his reports how Eugenio Pacelli saved and helped a great number of Polish youths to flee from Poland to the United States on the strenght of Holy See credentials of the Holy See. Pope Pacelli is also known for the shelter he gave to Jews in 155 ecclesiastic establishments that were territory of Santa Sede. During the Nazi occupation in Rome, approximately 5,000 Jews found sheltered in the Vatican.
During the war the number of Palatine guards was raised from 400 to more than 4,000; ten times more than normal. Many of these were Jews and other refugees; had they not benefited from the Popes decision, would have ended up deported to the concentration camps.
Mons. Giuseppe Simonazzi on 2nd February 1944 accompanied the Rector of the Rome Seminary, Mons. Roberto Ronca, in the meeting of various religious institutions with the Pope for Candlemas. Simonazzi says that he heard Pope XII asking Ronca how many guests he had in his Seminary. Four hundred and two replied Ronca to the Pope. Please find more places was Pius XIIs reply. In his seminary, Mons. Ronca gave political asylum to activists who were in favour of the king, other anti-fascists, as well as to a large number of Jews.
At that time of terror, the Vaticans kitchen provided 100,000 plates of soup every day for the refugees , amongst whom were many Jews.
Another interesting case happened on 26th September 1943 when the Head of the Gestapo in Rome, Herbert Kappler, forced the Jewish Community there to forward 55 kilograms of pure gold to the Germans in a matter of 36 hours. If this was not done, 300 members of the Jewish Community in Rome were going to be taken hostages. Even though the Pope offered the Rabbi of Rome to give him part of the gold requested through a donation from the Santa Sede, the Jewish Community in Rome managed to collect the gold and give it to Kappler in time.
On 21st July, 1944 prominent members of the Jewish American Welfare Board wrote the following to Pope Pius XII: We are extremely touched by the Christian example of love shown towards the Jewish Community in Rome by the Roman Catholic Church providing them with protection during the German occupation in Rome.
The case of the Dutch Bishops
One event which prompted Pacelli to adopt prudence with regards to the Nazis happened in Holland in the summer of 1942. The leader of the Catholic Church and that of the Protestant Church in Holland sent a letter of protest to the Head of the SS in their country against the persecution of Jews. They also declared that they would publicly condemn the Nazis actions. The Reich Kommissaar replied to them, warning them that if they keep on interfering the persecution of the Jews would be accentuated. To avoid further persecution, the Protestant Church, gave in and did not publish this public condemnation. The Catholic Church was not of the same opinion! The Dutch Bishops condemned the Nazis from their churches pulpits. The reaction of the SS was ferocious. On that day, apart apart from the Jews, Catholics as well as Jews converted to Catholicism, were targeted amongst them the Carmelitan nun Edith Stein, who was later declared a saint by the Church.
The Conversion of Israel Zolli Chief Rabbi of Rome
Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, Head of the Jewish Council in the Eternal City converted to Roman Catholicism, and took the baptisimal name of Eugenio in honour of Papa Pacelli. The head of the oldest jewish community in Europe had embraced Roman Catholicism!
Pope Pius XII’s funeral cortege passing the Coliseum in Rome on the way to the Vatican
The reaction of the United States after his death
This is how the leaders and politicians in the United States expressed themselves when the death of the Pope Pius XII was announced.
Former U.S. President Harry S. Truman
The former American President Harry Truman said he was aggrieved when he received the news of Pacellis death, as he considered him the greatest statesman that the Vatican produced in the last 200 years.
Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover
The former President Herbert Hoover declared that the world had lost a giant. He said he was conscious of the great spiritual leadership of Pacelli. The world was much better with him, than without him. Hoover stated.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
The Secretary of State, Dulles, described the loss of Pacelli as a loss of spiritual leadership at the forefront of Christian civilization and who left a profound void. Dulles followed by saying that Pope Pacelli had dedicated strong devotion for peace and justice in the world and was of great inspiration of continuous hope for humanity who lived in that era of great turbulence.
The reaction of the Hebrew world after his death
I would like to share with you contributions from important personalities in the Hebrew world and which were published following the death of Pope Pius XII:
As soon as the news of Pope Pacellis death was broadcast, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Golda Meir, said the following in the telegram she sent to the Vatican: We participate in the grief of humanity for the death of His Holiness Pope Pius XII. Golda Meir also said: in the era of war and misunderstanding he persisted with his virtues for peace and charity. When the fearful martyrdom had struck our nation, the Popes voice forthrightly defended the victims. Life at that time was decorated by a voice that used to declare all the moral truths above all daily problems of that destructive confrontation. We weep for the loss of this great servant of peace. The voice of the Pope was raised to defend those victims, therefore according to Golda Meir, who later on became Prime Minister of Israel, Eugenio Pacelli was not in silence in the Second World War.
During the morning of 9th October, 1958 the great Rabbi of Jerusalem the highest Hebrew authority, Isaac Herzog, sent another telegram to the Santa Sede that said the following: The death of Pius XII is a great loss for the freedom of the world. Not only the Catholic world weeps and deplores his loss. At this time of uncertainty, humanity cant easily do without the example of their Spiritual Leaders. It was then that Herzog recalled the audience that Pius XII gave him in 1946 were he asked for his intervention for children of those killed in the German camps during the genocide to be repatriated. Isaac Herzog was impressed by the great preparation of the Pope, with his great ideals and constant knowledge of his responsibility as a Pope.
In another message, the Rabbi Jacob Philip Rudin, who was the President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis said: The central conference of American Rabbis collectively join in profound sorrow with the millions of faithful of the Roman Catholic Church for the death of the Pope Pius XII. His vast sympathy for all, his knowledgeable social vision and comprehension, made him a prophetic voice for justice in all the world. May his memory be a blessing for the life of the Roman Catholic Church and for the rest of the world.
The Head of Rabbis of London, Brodie, in a message sent to the Archbishop of Westminster wrote the following: We, the Hebrew Community have particular reasons to be sorrowful for the death of this personality, that in every circumstance showed courage concrete concern for the victims of sufferance and for those persecuted by the Nazi regime.
Former Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff
The Rabbi of the Hebrew Community in Rome, Elio Toaff who managed to escape from the terror of the persecution of the Nazi concentration camp with the help of a priest from Le Marche was grateful to Pope Pius XII: More than anyone, we benefited from the goodness and generosity of this Pope (whom we weep) shown during the time of persecution and terror, when all hope seemed lost. Toaff does not speak about the silence of Pope Pacelli but of the concrete and efficient help given to the Hebrew Community by the Vatican during the era of terror and Nazism.
Israeli President Itzhak Ben-Zvi requested his Ambassador in Rome to forward his condolences to the Dean of the College of Cardinals, French Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, and told him: In the name of all Jewish refugees, saved from Nazi death and torture through the intervention of Pius XII ..Here one cannot help but notice the explicit reference for the Santa Sedes action and that of Pius XII in favour of the Jews.
On the 10th of October 1958 the Editor of the Jewish-American Magazine Jewish Newsletter, William Zukermann, stressed that: All classes of the Jewish population in the United States were grateful to Pope Pacelli as nobody helped Jews as much as he did in that hour of trial. Zukerman continued that the Popes action was a strong manifestation of humanity in the 20th Century. Zukermann held that to every Jew of every nation getting in touch with the Vatican in that hour of trial had meant salvation.
A promenant author, Maurice Edelman, who was the President of the Anglo Jewish Association, a few months after the war declared with the members of the association he lead: One intervention after the other of the Head of the Catholics in favour of the Jews during the Second World War were vital for the salvation of thousands of Jews in the Nazi extermination camps.
The President of the Jewish Foundation in the United States Pave the Way Gary Krupp, when he met Pope Benedict XVI two years ago after the Wednesday audience at Saint Peter, described Pacelli in this way: Pius XII is the man who saved most Jews in the history of humanity. Krupp continued Our foundation travelled around the globe, interviewed many witnesses who experienced Nazi brutality, persons who were also lucky to meet Pius XII himself. They gave a beautiful testimony and they are all available in the website of our foundation.
Don Gaetano Piccinini was a Catholic priest who lived in Nazi occupied Rome. He is remembered for saving the lives of countless Jews. He has been honored with the medal known as the Righteous Among the Nations, which is awarded by the Israeli Institute Yad Vashem for saving Jews during the Holocaust.
Don Gaetano Piccinini
Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican gathered with some of Rome’s Jewish population in order to celebrate the memory of Piccinini. He told the crowd that Pope Pius XII was a protector of Jews as well as Catholics. And the recognition of this priest goes beyond a question of religion.
Finally, I would like to end with a quotation from the book of Lapide, already mentioned before by Albert Einstein. It was only the Catholic Church who fought against the Nazi politics where freedom was concerned. Till that time I was not interested in the church however today I feel great admiration for the Catholic Church for having the strength to fight for the spiritual truth and moral freedom.
Once again I say that this article is not a biography of Eugenio Pacelli; in fact I had to leave many important topics out, like when he was given the title from the Romans of Defensor Civitatis Defender of the Roman City, and other subjects that this Pope covered in that particular era in history.
Times were not easy. Even though, the motto which he used during his election Opus Iustitae Pax, meaning Peace is the work of Justice as well as how he replied to the Dean of the College of Cardinals in the Conclave while he was accepting the Canonic election as the Successor of St Peter with these words Acceptem in Cruce it was clear how he would lead the church from his same prophetic words.
His beatification case has already been introduced and the Pope has already proclaimed the heroic virtues of Papa Pacelli which is crucial for his beatification. H.E. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, CMF, 30.9.2011
The Venerable Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII praying for Peace over the Romans - Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura July 19th, 1943
Former Chief Rabbi of Rome and Catholic Convert Israel Zolli
St. Edith Stein, Catholic Nun
For me Pope Pius XII is probably the greatest pope of the contemporary era, because his pontificate will pass to history as an irreplaceable and historically memorable pontificate. Pius XII was a great pope. H.E. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, CMF, 30.9.2011
With His Excellency Prince Filippo Pacelli: Pope Pius XII’s great nephew