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58^ anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII
On the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Ven. Pope Pius XII,
with the organization of «Comitato Papa Pacelli»,
Saturday, October 15, 2016, in St. Peter’s Basilica,
in Rome, at 11 A.M.,
Card. Dominique Mamberti,
Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in the Roman Curia,
will celebrate the Holy Mass,
at the altar of the Tomb of St. Peter,
in the Vatican Grottoes.
For those wishing to take part in the celebration,
the meeting is set for 10:00 am
at Porta di Petriano (Piazza del Sant’Uffizio).
Is the World Finally Admitting the Truth About
Pope Pius XII? Robert George Explains
from ChurchPOP, Sept. 4, 2016
Was Pope Pius XII “Hitler’s Pope”? Or was he a determined opponent of Nazism? The debate should be settled for good now that new research shows the Vatican not only saved the lives of thousands of Jews, but also worked to assassinate Hitler.
The National Geographic Channel is airing a show tonight (Sunday, September 4th), “Pope vs. Hitler” that tells this incredible story.
Robert George, law professor at Princeton University and Catholic commentator, took the TV show as an occasion to explain why it’s a big deal for the mainstream media to come around to rehabilitating Pope Pius XII’s reputation.
“For more than a decade after WWII,” he wrote on Facebook, “it was widely understood that the Pope was a determined enemy of Hitler and the Nazis.”
But this all changed in the 1960s due to a theater production, of all things.
“Then, beginning with a play called The Deputy by the German leftist Rolf Hochhuth in 1963-64, memory of Pius’s anti-Nazi attitude and activities began to be erased. Communists in East Germany, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, together with others on the left in Europe, relentlessly attacked Pius as ‘silent’ about the Holocaust and unconcerned about its victims. Remarkably, no new information about Pius had been revealed. And yet, many people of goodwill uncritically accepted the revisionist picture of the wartime pontiff.”
He explained it was due to anti-Catholicism: “To grasp how this happened, it is important to understand the hatred of the European left for religion in general, Christianity in particular, and the Catholic Church most especially. The defamation of Pius XII, even to the absurd point of depicting him as “Hitler’s Pope,” served the cause of undermining the credibility and authority of Christianity and the Catholic Church in post-War Europe.”
George says that, as a young man, he carefully studied the question himself and realized that the anti-Pius narrative was false.
“I wanted to know the truth – the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I read various pro- and anti-Pius books and articles and came to see that those who had generously praised him after the war and even expressed gratitude to him for his work in support of Hitler’s Jewish and other victims had been right in the first place.
“He had not been Hitler’s Pope. He had in fact been Hitler’s determined enemy. Under dangerous conditions, he had activated the institutions of the Church wherever he could against Hitler and in defense of victims and searched for ways to undermine him – including supporting a plot to assassinate him – in Germany.
“Hitler hated Pius and wanted rid of him. And he had good reason – Pius was anti-Nazi and anti-racist through and through.”
Here’s George’s full Facebook post:
Tonight (Sunday, September 4, 2016) at 9:00 Eastern time, the National Geographic Channel will air an important docudrama on the efforts of Pope Pius XII to bring down Hitler and to protect Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution.
For more than a decade after WWII it was widely understood that the Pope was a determined enemy of Hitler and the Nazis. He was praised by many who had distinguished themselves in opposing Hitler and rescuing victims, as well as by Israeli and other Jewish leaders (such as Prime Minister Golda Meir). Then, beginning with a play called “The Deputy” by the German leftist Rolf Hochhuth in 1963-64, memory of Pius’s anti-Nazi attitude and activities began to be erased. Communists in East Germany, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, together with others on the left in Europe, relentlessly attacked Pius as “silent” about the Holocaust and unconcerned about its victims. Remarkably, no new information about Pius had been revealed. And yet, many people of goodwill uncritically accepted the revisionist picture of the wartime pontiff.
To grasp how this happened, it is important to understand the hatred of the European left for religion in general, Christianity in particular, and the Catholic Church most especially. The defamation of Pius XII, even to the absurd point of depicting him as “Hitler’s Pope,” served the cause of undermining the credibility and authority of Christianity and the Catholic Church in post-War Europe. (The Vatican itself over many decades did not help by its policy of only very slowly releasing archival material. As war-time archival material has come out, however, it has served only to burnish Pius’s reputation, not blacken it.)
By the time I was growing up, the campaign of vilification against Pius XII was already well advanced and largely successful. I heard much against him and very little in defense of him, even from Catholic priests (who mostly, in my experience, said nothing about the topic). I became interested in the topic only after growing up and marrying into a Jewish family. Perhaps because of my familial connections, I’m sensitive even to the slightest hint of anti-Semitism and have no tolerance whatever for it, especially among my fellow Catholics. And, alas, there have been anti-Semitic Catholics, including some important Church officials. So once I became interested in the question of Pius XII’s attitudes and activities during the war, I wanted to know the truth—the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I read various pro- and anti-Pius books and articles and came to see that those who had generously praised him after the war and even expressed gratitude to him for his work in support of Hitler’s Jewish and other victims had been right in the first place. He had not been Hitler’s Pope. He had in fact been Hitler’s determined enemy. Under dangerous conditions, he had activated the institutions of the Church wherever he could against Hitler and in defense of victims and searched for ways to undermine him–including supporting a plot to assassinate him–in Germany. Hitler hated Pius and wanted rid of him. And he had good reason–Pius was anti-Nazi and anti-racist through and through.
In this evening’s broadcast, Pius’s critics are given opportunities to make their claims against him. But they are overwhelmed by the sheer weight of evidence of his anti-Nazism and efforts on behalf of victims. It is worth watching. Through the work of Rabbi David Dalin, Professor Ronald Rychlak, Gary Krupp, William Doino, and many other researchers and writers, we now know an enormous amount about what Pius XII actually did and said during the dark era of Nazi domination of Europe. The narrative constructed by Hochhuth and others, and sold to the public, has crumbled. It will take awhile for people generally to take this on board, but it is already happening. Tonight’s broadcast will help the process along.
Papal Espionage and the Third Reich
William Doino / National Review, Oct. 19, 2015
In March 1939, throngs descended upon St. Peter’s Square to await the election of the successor to Pope Pius XI. They didn’t have long to wait. In the quickest conclave in four centuries, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, who had served as Pius XI’s secretary of state, was elected, choosing the name Pius XII to honor his mentor.
Among those who witnessed his inauguration was Joseph Roth, the great Austrian novelist and fierce opponent of Hitler. Roth contrasted Pius XII’s elevation with the rise of the Third Reich: “The pre-apocalyptic beasts who now dominate politics are already alluding to their true motives for persecuting the Church. [Pius XII] is the only one who really hurts them. What’s more, those who were not afraid of the pope before are now afraid of this one”.
It’s a striking observation, given that many historians regard Pacelli’s predecessor, Pius XI, as tougher against the Nazis. Yet in his new book, Mark Riebling reveals that Pacelli was just as steadfast – and even more daring.
Among the book’s many revelations is Pacelli’s prescience about the danger of Nazism and his ability to think creatively in combating it. Often depicted as a quiet and unassuming priest, a by-the-book diplomat, and an aloof pontiff, Pacelli was, Riebling demonstrates, the exact opposite.
Born into a prominent family, Pacelli was a champion of the Church, but not a reactionary who feared modernity. He had a lifelong interest in science and technology, and a fascination with new and secret modes of communication. Had he not been destined to become pontiff, he might well have become an accomplished spymaster — and Riebling’s book argues that he actually became both.
In the Vatican diplomatic service, Pacelli dealt with sensitive political situations in England, France, and especially Germany, where he served for more than a decade (1917-29) as a papal representative. He emerged as the Vatican’s diplomatic point man during its efforts to end World War I; and as cardinal secretary of state (1930-39), he was a world traveler and communications pioneer. He enhanced Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican’s newspaper), turning them into worldwide outlets. With such an innovative, high-profile record, Pacelli was a natural choice to become pope.
His 1939 election was greeted with almost universal acclaim, the rare exception being the Nazis. By then, the Nazis were well aware of Pacelli’s many anti-Nazi statements and actions, and commissioned Albert Hartl, a former Catholic priest, to assess what his pontificate meant for the Reich. Under Pacelli, Hartl warned, the Catholic Church would prove a serious threat, because of three factors in Catholicism’s arsenal: militancy, mutiny, and, above all, espionage. “The Catholic Church fundamentally claims for itself the right to depose heads of state,” Hartl wrote, “and down to the present time it has also achieved this claim several times”.
But what Hartl declared alarming was seen as an opportunity by other Germans, who, at that very moment, were hoping to overthrow Hitler – and looking for assistance.
Before the Czechoslovak crisis in 1938, high-ranking German officers, including General Ludwig Beck, began to turn against Hitler, fearing he would lead the country into a catastrophic war. Beck was soon joined by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr (Germany’s intelligence agency), and his deputy, Colonel Hans Oster. They hoped to remove Hitler before his takeover of Czechoslovakia, but they were thwarted by the Munich agreement of late 1938, which appeased Hitler and strengthened his power.
After the Nazi invasion of Poland a year later, however, the military conspirators, having escaped detection by Hitler, began to plot his demise again. This time, they made a concerted effort to reach out to their adversaries, especially the British. They wanted to convince them that there was another Germany, a “decent Germany,” that was prepared to remove Hitler and restore peace, but they needed assurances that a post-Nazi German government would be supported by the West. For that to happen, they needed a person who could serve as an intermediary and vouch for their integrity.
The Resistance found its ideal man in Pius XII, whom Canaris had known since his days as a papal nuncio in Berlin and who was also highly regarded in Britain. The Resistance was also fortunate to have in its service Joseph Mueller, a little-known but astonishingly brave Catholic lawyer from Munich. He also knew Pius XII and was prepared to sacrifice his life to save the world from Hitler’s deepening madness.
Acting on behalf of the Resistance, Mueller traveled to Rome in 1939 and met with the pontiff’s top assistants to ask one critical question: Would Pius XII be willing to contact the British government and receive guarantees that it would back the German Resistance if Hitler was overthrown? Pius XII – knowing it was an incredible risk to involve himself and the Church in such a plot – was willing do so, in hopes of ending the war. He gave his approval, declaring, “The German Opposition must be heard”.
What followed was a series of harrowing events, grippingly recounted by Riebling, which led to repeated efforts to oust Hitler, all foiled by unexpected twists, betrayals, bombs that failed to go off, and ones that did only to miss their target. Anti-Nazi officers and daring civilians led the charge, but they were given critical moral and logistical support by Pius XII, his closest aides, and the Jesuit, Dominican, and Benedictine religious orders.
Numerous other scholars – notably Peter Hoffmann and Owen Chadwick – have written about the Vatican’s connection with the German Resistance, but never with the detail, insight, and proof Riebling marshals here. Relying on an abundance of primary documents and firsthand testimonies, from many different countries and archives, Church of Spies advances our historical knowledge in three significant ways.
First, it has long been thought that Pius XII’s involvement with the anti-Nazi Resistance was only tentative and fleeting, ending early in the war. But Riebling demonstrates that Pius’s participation was far more extensive and intense. The pope not only directed the Church’s bishops, nuncios, and religious orders to oppose Nazism and help its victims, he also ensured that the Vatican maintained contacts with every major Resistance movement inside the Reich, including the valiant group of officers, led by Count von Stauffenberg, who tried to assassinate Hitler in the famous Valkyrie plot of July 1944.
Second, Riebling highlights that the conspiracy against Hitler was a deeply Christian – and ecumenical – initiative. One of the book’s most fascinating sections shows the conspirators discussing the religious and ethical implications of assassination. Some hesitated to sanction it, saying it was un-Christian, no matter how dire the situation or how brutal the tyrant. But others cited Saint Thomas Aquinas, who taught that tyrannicide was justified if no conceivable alternatives for protecting the innocent and saving the common good were possible. The Thomistic arguments won the day.
That all this took place in Germany was remarkable. Four hundred years before, Christendom had been torn asunder by the Reformation, but now, in the very country in which it broke out, Christians of all persuasions were coming together to find common ground. And the institution the Resistance was now rallying around was, ironically, the one that had divided Christians for centuries: the papacy.
Much of this change had to do with Pacelli’s high character and theological vision. Admiral Canaris, writes Riebling, “spoke reverently of Pius”, and Mueller “sensed that Canaris and Oster, though Protestants, considered the Pope the world’s most important Christian. … They sought out the Holy Father, not only for clandestine support, but for solace and hope.”
Pope Francis has spoken of an “ecumenism of blood”, referring to the many Christians, of all denominations, who have been martyred in modern times. One senses, reading Church of Spies, that the seeds of that heroic ecumenism may well have been planted in the conspiracy against Hitler, since so many of those Christian resisters eventually wound up suffering martyrdom as well.
Third, addressing the controversy over Pius XII’s alleged silence about Nazi atrocities, Riebling makes a forceful, though still debatable, case that Pius’s decision to restrain his language during the Holocaust was directly linked to his cooperation with the anti-Nazi conspirators, who were advising him not to speak “words of fire” in public, lest he provoke reprisals against the Resistance. The pope followed this counsel, but only as far as his conscience allowed. His first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, condemned racism and totalitarianism; and his Christmas messages condemned atrocities of every kind, including race-based genocide, for which the Nazis branded him “a mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.” Some of Pius XII’s early wartime statements were quite explicit, and did cause severe reprisals – against both Jews and Catholics – and some bishops refused to publish the pope’s words, precisely for that reason.
As the book approaches its conclusion, it moves from being a groundbreaking new history of the Vatican-German Resistance to a deeply moving account of the sufferings and sacrifices of its leaders. The failure of the conspirators to kill Hitler takes nothing away from their courage and heroism.
Writing with the craft of a novelist and the conscience of a meticulous scholar, Riebling has produced a masterly account of these events – one that will surely impress anyone open to fresh evidence and sensitive to the complexities of world history.
How German generals and diplomats, and a future pope,
saved the Jews of Palestine during World War I
It has long been know that Eugenio Pacelli, long before he became Pope Pius XII, took numerous measures to resist anti-Semitism and to protect persecuted Jews: for example, we know-as I, and many others have documented (in The Pius War and other works)- that the young Pacelli was involved in the Holy See’s 1916 condemnation of anti-Semitism, a decree (the-then) Cardinal Pacelli pledged to reinforce, when he visited America twenty years later; we know, from the testimony of famed German composer Bruno Walter (exiled by the Nazis), that the young Nuncio Pacelli, then in Munich, during WWI, intervened to save the life of Walter’s friend, Jewish musician Ossip Gabrilowitch (the husband of Mark Twain’s daughter, Clara) during an anti-Semitic pogrom; we know that, as Cardinal Secretary of State, Pacelli took measures to assist persecuted Jews in Germany and elsewhere, and help them emigrate, including the Orthodox Jewish family of Dr. Guido Mendes (a childhood friend of Pacelli’s) — whose testimony in this regard is well-recorded. We know that Cardinal Pacelli made it a point to resist fascist anti-Semitism, and had Kosher food served to Jewish delegations that visited the Vatican; and we know that Pacelli was a long-time sympathizer and supporter of a Jewish homeland, notwithstanding the opposition of other prelates to it, and notwithstanding the debate regarding how best this was to be achieved.
On top of all this are the dramatic interventions a group of German officers and diplomats, along with the young Nuncio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, took to save the lives of Jews in Palestine during WW I, when they were threatened with imminent deportation and death by their political opponents.
The story is not speculative: it is confirmed by primary documents- available on the Pave the Way Foundation’s website- but it is not well-known, even among historians. Now, thanks to the impressive research of scholars like Michael Hesemann (author of The Pope who Defied Hitler: The Truth about Pius XII), and now publicized by the Jerusalem Post, this forgotten intervention-which foreshadows Pius XII’s decision to join the anti-Nazi German generals, in hopes of overthrowing Hitler, during the Second World War—has been given a great boost.
by Gil Zohar / The Jerusalem Post – Israel News / 01/16/2016
As the centenary of World War I grinds its way across the calendar, relentless anniversaries of bloodbaths are being memorialized – Ypres, Gallipoli and Verdun, to mention a few. But one anniversary is not being recalled, as it is not part of the general narrative: how German generals and diplomats, together with a future pope, saved the Jews of Palestine from genocide.
The country’s twin Jewish communities of Zionist pioneers and the old Yishuv of Orthodox pietists living on charity numbered 85,000 in 1914, on the eve of the global conflagration. When the Treaty of Mudros was signed on October 30, 1918, ending hostilities between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies – and preceding the November 11 armistice on the Western Front by two weeks – less than half of Palestine’s Jews remained.
These Jews were on the verge of starvation and ruin; the other 40,000 destitute members of the Yishuv had died of starvation, epidemics or execution, or had been deported as enemy aliens holding Russian, British, French, Greek or American citizenship.
Gen. Erich Georg Anton Sebastian von Falkenhayn (1861-1922) and Gen. Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein (1870-1948) were key figures in the little-known rescue of the Jews of Palestine. So too was Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli (1876-1958) – who became pope Pius XII in 1939, and whose subsequent role in the Holocaust remains controversial.
Von Falkenhayn was the architect of the Battle of Verdun. His notorious memo to Kaiser Wilhelm II proposing to “bleed the French army white” led to the February 1916 attack known as Unternehmen Gericht (Operation Judgment). But by that August, it became evident that Germany was losing its war of attrition; almost as much blood of les boches (a contemptuous term for Germans) was being spilled into the Meuse and Somme rivers as was that of die Froschfresser (a contemptuous term for French – the frog guzzlers).
The bloody toll of shrapnel led to Germany’s replacement in 1916 of the traditional boiled leather Pickelhaube headgear with the iconic Stahlhelm (steel helmet). That same year von Falkenhayn was replaced as chief of general staff by fellow Prussian Paul von Hindenburg. Von Falkenhayn was reassigned to the Palestine Front.
There, the Germans were serving as advisers, commanders and biplane pilots in the war against the British and their colonial troops based in Egypt. The Central Powers’ Turkish and Austro-Hungarian forces, together with their German officers, had failed in raids in January 1915 and again in August 1916 to seize the Suez Canal. Now the British were inching across the northern Sinai coast as they constructed a supply railroad. Von Falkenhayn remained in charge of German forces in World War I Palestine from early 1917 until February 1918.
A master of trench warfare, von Falkenhayn dug in at Gaza and repulsed the Egyptian Expeditionary Force at the first battle of Gaza in March 1917. The second battle for the ruined city, whose 40,000 inhabitants had been deported by the Turks, occurred a month later. The Commonwealth war cemeteries in Gaza and Deir el-Balah remain as testament to those battles.
The Gaza stalemate was broken in November 1917, when the Australian Light Horse outflanked Gaza and overran Beersheba’s surprised defenders in the world’s last successful cavalry charge. The front collapsed, and on December 9, 1917, Gen.
Edmund Allenby (1861-1936) – who replaced the hapless Gen. Sir Archibald Murray – liberated Jerusalem.
Allenby’s rapid advance toward Damascus was halted in March 1918 when many of his soldiers were rushed to Flanders to stop Germany’s great spring offensive, utilizing troops freed from the eastern front following the newly founded Soviet Union’s peace treaty. By September 1918, the troops were returned to Palestine, and Allenby’s offensive resumed, leading to his smashing victory at Megiddo that month.
The Ottoman commander in Syria and Palestine, navy minister Ahmed Djemal Pasha (1872-1922), grew increasingly suspicious of non-Muslim and non-Turkish minorities as the Turkish Empire disintegrated.
One of the triumvirate of young Turks controlling wartime Turkey along with the grand vizier Mehmed Talaat Pasha (1874-1921) and war minister Ismail Enver Pasha (1881-1922), Djemal Pasha planned severe measures against Palestine’s remaining Jews.
During 1915, the three pashas perpetrated genocide on the Christian Armenian, Greek, and Syriac civilian populations living in eastern Anatolia – whom the Ottomans regarded as disloyal to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople. At least 1.5 million Armenians alone were murdered.
In his book The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide, historian Yair Auron described how the mass murder was perpetrated: “An important component of the annihilation process (in the spring and summer of 1915) was the evacuation and deportation of the Armenian population. Usually, the population was given a period of a few days to prepare to be evacuated, ostensibly dictated by needs of the war. Evacuees were permitted to take a limited amount of baggage, and they were assured that their homes and assets would be preserved. The deportees were concentrated in convoys that began to move toward the Syrian desert.
“Once they left the villages and cities, the men were separated from the women and were murdered nearby. The women, children and aged were then subjected to a slow and prolonged death as they were forced to walk on foot for hundreds of kilometers.
Along the way, the convoys were attacked in sporadic ambushes. The hunger, thirst, cold, heat and epidemics raised the number of victims. Very few of those who began the journey succeeded in making it alive to the end.”
The Jews of Palestine feared their mass expulsion and massacre were imminent.
In December 1916 Djemal Pasha declared that all means must be used to suppress Zionism. The Zionists were “diligent and practical people, but due to their ideology, Palestine was liable to become a second Armenia,” he said.
The majority of Palestine’s Jews remained loyal Ottoman citizens. But dread for their fate motivated some to treasonously join the Zion Mule Corps and fight the Turks at Gallipoli. A handful of Zionist Jews formed the Nili spy network, which provided Britain with invaluable information on Ottoman troop deployments. The name is an acronym for the biblical verse “Netzah Yisrael lo yeshaker,” meaning The Eternal One of Israel will not lie (I Samuel 15:29).
SARAH AARONSOHN of Zichron Ya’acov was traveling by train and wagon across Turkey to Palestine in November 1915, and on her journey she witnessed the Armenian genocide. In 1916 she joined her brother Aharon Aaronsohn, a well-known agronomist, in establishing the Nili underground.
Caught by the Turks in October 1917 at her home and tortured, Sarah blew her brains out with a gun secreted in her bathroom before incriminating her fellow spies, including Eitan Belkind, who served in the Turkish army on Djemal Pasha’s staff and witnessed the murder of 5,000 Armenians. In December 1917 the Turks hanged his brother Na’aman and Nili leader Yosef Lishansky in Damascus for espionage.
Sarah’s brother Aharon wrote in his memoirs, “The Turkish order to confiscate our weapons was a bad sign. Similar measures were taken before the massacre of the Armenians, and we feared that our people would meet the same kind of fate.”
Djemal Pasha’s mass expulsion of some 9,000 foreign Jews from Jaffa and the eight-year-old adjoining town of Tel Aviv on the eve of Passover in April 1917 – on the pretext that his forces had to make preparations to thwart an amphibious landing by Gen. Allenby’s forces – similarly augured ill. The refugees sought shelter in Zionist settlements in the Sharon plain, the Galilee and Jerusalem.
But with foreign aid blocked by the Turks and the land ravaged by a plague of locusts in 1915, many of the expelled Jews died of hunger and disease; 224 of the deportees are buried in Kfar Saba, 321 in Tiberias, 104 in Safed and 75 in Damascus.
In total, some 1,500 are believed to have died. Many were buried in unmarked graves. Only after Allenby completed his conquest of Palestine at the end of 1918 were the deportees allowed to return to Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
German journalist Michael Hesemann described the situation: “Jamal Pasha, the Turkish commander who was responsible for the Armenian genocide… threatened the Jewish-Zionist settlers. In Jaffa, more than 8,000 Jews were forced to leave their homes, which were sacked by the Turks.
Two Jews were hanged in front of the town gate, dozens were found dead on the beach. In March, the Reuters news agency reported a ‘massive expulsion of Jews who could face a similar fate as the Armenians.’ A report of the Zionist Office in Copenhagen expressed the worry that the Jews of Palestine would face extermination by hunger, thirst and diseases.”
About 10 days after the evacuation of Jaffa, Djemal Pasha announced he was ordering the deportation of Jerusalem’s entire civilian population within 24 hours; they were to be force-marched to Transjordan and Syria. Von Kressenstein alerted the German Embassy in Constantinople (today Istanbul) on April 16, 1917. German diplomats halted the plan temporarily.
“The evacuation of Jerusalem could have been a tragic tactical mistake,” von Kressenstein wrote in his memoirs. “The uprooting of such a large population would have been liable to cause inestimable results. The catastrophic events that occurred to the Armenians who were expelled were liable to be repeated here.
Thousands would have died through starvation and disease.”
In the fall of 1917, as Allenby’s army closed in on Jerusalem, Djemal Pasha – citing “military requirements” – revived his deportation order and picked November 5 as the zero hour for the evacuation of the city’s remaining destitute Jews. Historian Isaiah Friedman’s research in the archives of the Austro-Hungarian empire in Vienna and the German empire in Berlin revealed von Kressenstein’s intervention against the second deportation. Further details about Djemal Pasha’s murderous intentions are found in Richard Lichtheim’s The History of German Zionism. Lichtheim was based in Constantinople – then the hub of Zionist political activity – from 1913 to 1917 as the World Zionist Organization’s representative. He was a prominent figure in the Ottoman capital in forging contacts between the Yishuv and the Turkish leadership.
In February 1915, he wrote it seemed as if “Jamal Pasha and his friends were plotting to destroy and annihilate the Zionist settlement enterprise in the Land of Israel.”
In 1921, a representative from Palestine reported to the 12th Zionist Congress, taking place in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia, on “Palestine during the War.” The report credited foreign consular officials who “during the whole period of their stay in the country showed themselves always ready to help, and performed valuable services for the Jewish Yishuv. Especially deserving of mention are the German vice-consul Schabiner in Haifa… The Jewish population also benefited by the presence of the head of the German military mission, Col. Kress von Kressenstein, who on several occasions exerted his influence on behalf of the Jews.”
Von Falkenhayn had a stormy relationship with Djemal Pasha. Having witnessed the destruction of Gaza caused by artillery barrages, he refused to send reinforcements to Jerusalem in December 1917 lest the holy city and its shrines become a wasteland. Instead, he positioned his forces on the ridges outside the city.
Holger Afflerbach of Britain’s Leeds University, author of Falkenhayn, Political Thought and Action Under the Second Empire, noted von Falkenhayn’s critical role in avoiding a massacre. “Falkenhayn had to supervise Turkish measures against Jewish settlers who were accused of high treason and collaboration with the English.
He prevented harsh Turkish measures – Jamal Pasha was speaking about evacuation of all Jewish settlers in Palestine.”
Afflerbach continued, “The parallels to the beginning of the Armenian genocide are obvious and striking: It started with Turkish accusations of Armenian collaboration with the Russians, and the Ottomans decided to transport all Armenians away from the border to another part of the Empire. This ended in death and annihilation of the Armenians. Given the fact that Palestine was front-line in late 1917, something very similar could have happened there to the Jewish settlers.
“Falkenhayn’s role was crucial,” Afflerbach explained. ”His judgment in November 1917 was as follows: He said that there were single cases of cooperation between the English and a few Jewish radicals, but that it would be unfair to punish entire Jewish communities who had nothing to do with that. Therefore, nothing happened to the Jewish settlements.
Only Jaffa had been evacuated – by Jamal Pasha.”
Von Falkenhayn had no particular love for Jews, according to Afflerbach. “He was in many aspects a typical Wilhelmine officer and not even free from some prejudices against Jews, but what counts is that he saved thousands of Jewish lives.”
Hesemann, author of The Pope Who Defied Hitler: The Truth about Pius XII, discovered that the German generals and diplomats did not act alone. Five documents he uncovered in the Vatican Secret Archives documents and now available at the Pave the Way Foundation’s website show that in 1917, archbishop Eugenio Pacelli – the future Pope Pius XII but then the apostolic nuncio in Munich – interceded to protect Palestine’s Jews.
The papers, found in the collection of the “Nuntiatura Apostolica Baviera” under the headline “European War, Palestine No. 1, Jewish Population and the Holy City of Palestine,” document Pacelli’s demarche.
Originally, the Jewish community of neutral Switzerland had approached pope Benedict XV to use his influence to prevent an Ottoman genocide against the Jewish population of Palestine.
Recognizing how little regard the caliphate would pay to a diplomatic appeal from the Vatican, Benedict XV turned to Turkey’s most powerful ally, the Second Reich. Since the Holy See’s Nuntiature was located in Catholic Munich rather than Lutheran Berlin, the job fell to Pacelli, who had arrived in Bavaria in April 1917.
There, for all practical purposes, was the nuncio to the German Empire.
Benedict XV could rely on his nuncio being receptive toward Jewish affairs.
Only a few weeks before his transfer to Munich, when Pacelli was still the Holy See’s undersecretary of state responsible for foreign affairs, Zionist leader Nahum Sokolow came to Rome to learn about the Vatican’s position on a future Jewish state in Palestine. Sokolow was deeply moved by Pacelli’s sympathy towards Zionism.
To his uttermost surprise, Pacelli suddenly asked him if he would like to meet the pope. Sokolow never thought this would be possible for a Jew. Thanks to Pacelli, a few days later he had a 45-minute private audience with Benedict XV. The pope called the Zionist initiative “providential” and “in accordance with God’s will”; his parting words to the Zionist emissary were: “I am sure we will be good neighbors.” Sokolow’s six-page report on these encounters, written on May 10, 1917, can be found in the Yad Vashem archives.
Pacelli was aware that the German government had already declined to intervene on behalf of Palestine’s Jews. On May 7, 1917, Social Democrat representative Oskar Cohn spoke in the Reichstag about the anti-Jewish violence in Palestine. But the German parliament refused to interfere with its Turkish ally; the deportation of the Jews was simply termed “a security measure.”
“This makes the Vatican initiative even more important,” Hesemann stated. “Another element of pressure had to force the German government to act. This came from the Catholic Church, with its 25 million believers, an important power in the Reich.”
Immediately after the papal secretary of state requested that Pacelli “act for the protection of the Jewish sites and population of Jerusalem,” the nuncio sent a letter to Bavarian secretary of state Otto Ritter von Dandl, asking for urgent intervention in Berlin. Hesemann uncovered Pacelli’s draft and final letter – as well as the surprising reply.
Because of the alarm sounded by von Kressenstein, von Falkenhayn and others earlier in 1917, Germany’s Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to the Ottoman government. On November 27, 1917, according to an internal memorandum, they received the reply from Constantinople that “there is no reason to fear that the Turkish authorities in Palestine order measures against the Jewish population.”
Consequently, Ritter von Dandl and through him Pacelli were informed two days later: “According to the available information from the Turkish side, care was already taken for the protection of the holy sites of Jerusalem, which are also a subject of veneration by the Muslims and also for the population. Of course this includes the Jews, who don’t have to fear any exemptions.”
Zionist officials like Jacob Thon were well aware of Pacelli’s initiative. On January 1, 1918, shortly after Jerusalem’s liberation, he wrote to the German embassy in Constantinople: “It was a special stroke of good fortune that in the last critical days, Gen. von Falkenhayn had the command.
Djemal Pasha in this case – as he announced often enough – would have expelled the whole population and turned the country into ruins. We and the whole population, Christians as well as Muslims, must remember P.[acelli] with deep gratitude, since he saved the civil population from doom when he prevented the planned evacuation of this area.”
Pacelli continued to be a friend of Jews and Zionists, even when the Holy See adopted a less supportive policy. In 1922, the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano expressed worries about the socialist ideas circulating among Zionist settlers. But four years later, Pacelli encouraged German Catholics to join and support the newly established German Committee Pro-Palestine to Support the Jewish Settlement in Palestine. Among its board members were not only Albert Einstein, but also Pacelli’s closest friend and adviser, the German politician and Catholic prelate Dr. Ludwig Kaas.
Afflerbach deserves the final word: “An inhuman excess against the Jews in Palestine was only prevented by Falkenhayn’s conduct, which against the background of the German history of the 20th century has a special meaning, and one that distinguishes Falkenhayn.”
To that list one must add von Kressenstein and Pacelli. Their moral courage adds nuance to the unspeakable slaughter of the Holocaust that followed a generation later.
Pope Pius XII Saved Thousands of Jews
New research has found that Pope Pius XII may have arranged the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany just three weeks after Kristallnacht, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
The research is being carried out by Dr. Michael Hesemann, a German historian who is combing through the Vatican archives for the Pave the Way Foundation, a U.S.-based interfaith group.
Pope Pius XII has been widely criticized for his silence during the Holocaust and his failure to explicitly denounce the Holocaust, the Nazi regime or to excommunicate Hitler.
The new research, however, shows that the perception of Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope” may be historically incorrect.
Kristallnacht, known as “The Night of Broken Glass”, took place on November 9-10, 1938. Ninety-one Jews in Germany and Austria were killed in anti-Jewish pogroms and tens of thousands were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Thousands of homes, buildings and synagogues were destroyed.
Hesemann said that Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli – the future Pius XII – wrote a letter on November 30, 1938, urging Catholic archbishops throughout the world to apply for visas for “non-Aryan Catholics” and Jewish converts to Christianity who wanted to flee Germany.
According to Hesemann, there is evidence that the visas would have been given to ordinary Jews and that the terms “converted Jews” and “non-Aryan Catholics” were a cover to prevent the Nazis from discovering the true purpose of the visas.
Elliot Hershberg, the chairman of the Pave the Way Foundation, was quoted in the Daily Telegraph report saying: “We believe that many Jews who were successful in leaving Europe may not have had any idea that their visas and travel documents were obtained through these Vatican efforts. Everything we have found thus far seems to indicate the known negative perception of Pope Pius XII is wrong.”
Pius XII’s Secret War Against Hitler
George J. Marlin (The Catholic Thing, Jan 13, 2016)
The world has had to endure the false charge – ever since Rolf Hochhuth’s 1963 play The Deputy – that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s pope.” Informed people have suspected for decades that this was a deliberate distortion, but we now know beyond all doubt that such charges were not only wrong, they are the exact opposite of the truth.
When Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli became Pius XII in 1939, Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered Albert Hartl, a defrocked Catholic priest, to prepare a dossier on the new pope. Hartl documented how Pacelli had used the Concordat he had negotiated with Hitler’s new government in 1933 to the Church’s advantage, complaining formally to Hitler at least fifty-five times about violations.
Pacelli had also accused the Nazi state of plotting to exterminate the Church, and “summoned the whole world to fight against the Reich.” Worse yet, Pacelli preached racial equality, condemned “the superstition of race and blood,” and rejected anti- Semitism. Quoting a fellow SS officer, Hartl concluded, “at issue was not whether the new pope would fight Hitler, but how.”
Meanwhile, Pius was holding meetings with German cardinals discussing the Hitler problem. Transcripts reveal that Pius complained that: “The Nazis had thwarted Church teachings, banned its organizations, censored its press, shuttered its seminaries, seized its properties, fired its teachers and closed its schools.” He quoted a Nazi official who boasted that “After the defeat of Bolshevism and Judaism, the Catholic Church will be the only remaining enemy.”
Munich’s Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber charged that the troubles began after the 1937 encyclical With Burning Anxiety (Mit Brennender Sorge, published in German, not Latin). The text, partly written by Pacelli before he became pope, infuriated Hitler. The pope commented to Faulhaber, “The German question is the most important for me. I am reserving its handling to myself. … We cannot give up on principle. … When we have tried everything and still they absolutely want war, we will fight back. … If they refuse, then we must fight.”
Faulhaber recommended “backstairs intercession”. He proposed German bishops “find a way to send Your Holiness timely and exact intelligence.” Breslau’s Cardinal Adolf Bertram added, “We have to do it clandestinely. When St. Paul had himself lowered over the city wall at Damascus in a basket, he didn’t have permission from the police either.” The pope agreed.
Thus was hatched a plan to construct an espionage network that would support, among other things, plots to assassinate Hitler.
In his riveting book Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler, Mark Riebling uses newly released Vatican files and secret transcripts, vividly describing the cloak-and-dagger tactics Pius XII employed to help bring down the Nazi regime.
After Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, the pope reacted to reports of atrocities against Jews and Catholics. His encyclical, Darkness Over the Earth, rejected racism on the grounds that the human race is unified in God. And it denounced attacks on Judaism.
The pope received universal acclaim for this – a New York Times headline read “Pope Condemns Dictators, Treaty Violations, Racism” – but did not believe it was enough.
Convinced that the Nazi regime met the necessary conditions for tyrannicide spelt out in Church teaching, Pius allowed Jesuits and Dominicans, who reported directly to him, to assist in covert actions. His key operative – the Gestapo called him “the best agent of Vatican intelligence” – was Josef Muller, an attorney and World War I hero.
Muller organized a network of like-minded “army, college and law school friends with access to Nazi officials who worked in newspapers, banks and even [in] the SS itself.” They supplied the Vatican with vital information, including battle plans that were passed on to the Allies. In 1942, Muller managed to slip Dietrich Bonhoeffer into the Vatican in order to plan a strategy “aimed at bridging interfaith gaps, so that Christians could coordinate their fight against Hitler.”
Assassination attempts on Hitler failed due to what Muller called “luck of the devil.” But Riebling remarks of those efforts: “All roads truly led to Rome, to the desk with a simple crucifix overlooking the fountains on St. Peter’s Square.”
After the 1944 Valkyrie plot failed, the Gestapo arrested Muller. They discovered a note on papal stationery by the pope’s top aide (Father Leiber) that stated, “Pius guaranteed a just peace in return for the ‘elimination of Hitler.’”
Muller was shipped off to Buchenwald. On April 4, 1945, Muller, along with Bonhoeffer, was transferred to Flossenburg. After a mock trial, they were condemned to death.
Bonhoeffer was executed immediately. But fearful of approaching American troops, the SS transferred Muller and other prisoners, to Dachau, then Austria, and finally northern Italy. They were liberated by the U.S. 15th Army.
American intelligence officers took Muller to the Vatican. The overwhelmed pontiff embraced him and said he felt “as if his own son had returned from terrible danger.”
Riebling reveals that during Muller’s Vatican visit, U.S. diplomat Harold Tillman asked why Pius had not spoken out more during the war:
Muller said that during the war his anti-Nazi organization in Germany had always been very insistent that the Pope should refrain from making any public statement singling out the Nazis and specifically condemning them and had recommended that the Pope’s remarks should be confined to generalities only. . . .if the Pope had been specific, Germans would have accused him of yielding to the prompting of foreign powers and this would have made the German Catholics even more suspected than they were and would have greatly restricted their freedom of action in their work of resistance to the Nazis. Dr. Muller said the policy of the Catholic resistance inside Germany was that the Pope should stand aside while the German hierarchy carried out the struggle against the Nazis inside Germany. Dr. Muller said the pope had followed this advice throughout the war.
Thanks to Riebling’s exhaustive research, we’re now able to put to rest forever the absurd claims about Pius XII. He wasn’t “Hitler’s pope;” he was Hitler’s nemesis.
When Hitler wanted to kidnap Pius XII
Child and cross in Pope’s devotion
«Christmas Night is thus deeply linked to the great nocturnal vigil of Easter, when the redemption is brought about in the glorious sacrifice of the dead and Risen Lord. The crib itself, as an image of the Incarnation of the Word, in the light of the Gospel narrative already alludes to Easter; and it is interesting to see, as in certain icons of the Nativity in the Eastern tradition, that the Child Jesus is portrayed wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger in the form of a tomb, an allusion to the moment when he will be deposed from the Cross, wrapped in a winding-sheet and laid in a tomb hollowed out in the rock» (Benedict XVI, General Audience, 5 Jan 2011).
Not only the Eastern iconographic tradition, but also the Western one had,often, closely linked Jesus’s birth with his death. So, quite frequently, the representation of the Child
Jesus sleeping lying on a cross, had been. The image of the Child Jesus asleep on the cross – a small wax sculpture, about twenty centimeters – was, during the whole year, on Pope Pacelli’s desk. After his death, the image was donated by Sister Pascaline Lehnert to the Spiritual Family “L’Opera”, that now keeps it in his house in Bregenz, Austria, and that graciously grants us the images use.
The contemplation of that picture on his desk must have helped the Pope’s prayer so many times, during his long work hours. Probably – we can imagine – there may have come to his mind the words of the Vespers himn by Advent Breviary: «Thou, that Thou mightst our ransom pay and wash the stains of sin away, didst from a Virgin’s womb proceed and on the Cross a Victim bleed».
May this image help also us to always remember how far did the love of that Child born by Mary, in Bethlehem night.
The crib in Pius XII’s home
«While contemplating the Christmas crib the most obvious grace that we will be given will be the desire to be good»: Pope Francis suggests, on the threshold of Christmas. Maybe only few “human inventions” help so much our spirit, always distracted, to focus on faith mystery. And so few inventions help to create a family atmosphere, like the Christmas crib.
Family atmosphere was also what you could breathe in Pius XII’s “home”, in these days. In the apartment a great (and yet simple) Christmas tree was set up, with at the foot a nearly life-size statue of Infant
Jesus.Christmas crib couldn’t be missed, simple, with a central large nativity scene.
Today we can see it thanks to some private photographs from an album of the Holy Father, guarded by the Spiritual Family “L’opera”. To site visitors and Pope Pius XII’s devotees is so given the opportunity to stop for a moment at the scene of the Lord’s birth in the same way Pope Pacelli used to contemplate it in his house.
A Black Legend Refuted
[Published Oct. 26, 2015 in The Catholic World Report]
Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler,
by Mark Riebling; Basic Books, New York, 2015; 375 pages, $29.99.
Here, an interview with the Author.
Of the eight Popes who shepherded the Church from 1903 to century’s end, none is so hotly disputed as Pius XII, who reigned from March 2nd, 1939 until his death on October 9th, 1958. At issue is the Pope’s alleged “silence” in the face of the Holocaust. His defenders point out that in reality he was not silent. At the start of World War II Pius authorized Vatican radio to broadcast reports of Nazi atrocities in Poland. These ceased only at the urgent plea of victims reporting that the broadcasts intensified their sufferings.
In 1942 the Pope’s Christmas message spoke of “the hundreds of thousands who, through no fault of their own, and solely because of their nationality and race, have been condemned to death or progressive extinction.” Dismissed by his latter day critics as too vague to be understood, the Pope’s words were well understood by the Nazis, who called them “one long attack on everything we stand for. Here he is clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews … and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminal.” The New York Times also understood, commenting: “This Christmas more than ever [Pope Pius XII] is a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent.”
At the war’s end Golda Meier (later Israel’s Prime Minister), Albert Einstein, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee and many other Jewish voices applauded Pius for doing what he could to rescue Jews: by providing life saving travel documents, religious disguises, and safekeeping in cloistered monasteries and convents, including the Pope’s own summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, where Jewish babies were born in the Pope’s own bedroom. The Israeli diplomat and scholar Pinchas Lapide commented: “No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews.” At the Pope’s death in October 1958 the New York Times took three days to print tributes to Pius from New York City rabbis alone.
The chorus of praise fell silent overnight in 1963 with the publication of a pseudo-historical stage play, The Deputy, by a former junior member of the Hitler Youth, Rolf Hochhuth. The play’s scathing indictment portrayed Pius XII as a cold-hearted cynic, more interested in the Vatican’s investment portfolio than in Hitler’s slaughter of European Jews, including those rounded up in Rome under the Pope’s own windows. The play’s message is well conveyed by its final line, in which the German ambassador to the Holy See, Ernst von Weisäcker, telegraphs his superiors in Berlin: “Since further action on the Jewish problem is probably not to be expected here in Rome, it may be assumed that this question, so troublesome to German-Vatican relations, has been disposed of”.
Seldom can a work of fiction have appeared at a time more favorable to its message. The 1960s saw publications by liberal theologians proclaiming “the death of God.” It was also the age of the Youth Revolution, with the slogan, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” A play which purported to unmask one of the world’s leading moral authorities was a godsend to the propagators of these new and exciting ideas.
The bureaucratically organized slaughter of six million Jews was an event so horrible that many people found it difficult to believe that ultimate responsibility belonged to a single individual, Adolf Hitler. Hochhuth helped them come to terms with the inconceivable by assigning co-responsibility to the one man who (Hochhuth’s Black Legend alleged) could have stopped the machinery of death, had he wished to do so: the Pope of Rome. Millions who had never experienced the reign of terror imposed on Europe by the Nazis during World War II, with a totally controlled press and media, and people sent to concentration camps (which often meant death) simply for listening to news reports on British radio, welcomed Hochhuth’s indictment as an aid to understanding an event beyond the limits of what was previously considered possible.
From 1963 onward Hochhuth’s Black Legend has reigned supreme. Accepted by all but a minority of historical scholars, and propagated without reserve by the media, it is still alive and well today. A book published in May of this year, The Pope’s Dilemma by the retired Toronto professor, Jacques Kornberg, accuses Pius XII of “moral failure” for concentrating exclusively during World War II on Church interests, without regard for extra-ecclesial events and concerns.
Comes now this blockbuster of a book which not only defends Pius XII (which others have undertaken with varying success) but utterly demolishes the Black Legend by showing in intricate and meticulously documented detail (107 pages of end notes and sources) that from the very start of the war the Pope cooperated secretly with anti-Nazi forces in Hitler’s thousand year Reich who sought, first, to remove the Führer from power; and when that failed, to kill him.
Appalled by reports of Nazi atrocities in Poland during the first month of occupation – hundreds of priests shot, systematic extermination of Jews forced to dig their own burial trenches, then stripped naked and machine-gunned like sardines in a can; “and in one photo, a police officer shooting a child clamped between his knees” – Pius made up his mind. “He would engage the German military resistance and encourage a military counterrevolution. He would serve as secret foreign agent for the resistance – presenting and guaranteeing its plans to the British. He would partner with the [German] generals not just to stop the war, but to eliminate Nazism by removing Hitler”.
The Pope’s aides were stunned. The highly respected British historian, Owen Chadwick wrote later: “Never before had a Pope engaged so delicately in a conspiracy to overthrow a tyrant by force.” The Pope, his co-workers thought, was going too far. Were Hitler to learn of the pontiff’s role, Hitler would take terrible revenge on Catholics, invade the Vatican, and kidnap the Pope. Later in the war Hitler actually ordered both the invasion and kidnapping, only to be frustrated by his generals’ foot-dragging.
Central in this complicated and ever shifting story is the devout and heroically courageous German Catholic layman, Josef Müller, described by Riebling as “a big-eared Bavarian book publisher, who puffed a pipe and collected stamps.” We first encounter him on page 2 of the book, standing on April 8th, 1945, beneath a Nazi gallows, just minutes from execution. Only on the book’s final page do we learn how he was saved from this gruesome fate (he died in 1979): through an eleventh-hour phone call from the SS officer Walter Huppenkothen, commander of Hitler’s security guard, yet another secret anti-Nazi, whom Müller had befriended years previously. Müller worked throughout the war with Admiral Canaris, Chief of Hitler’s counter-intelligence network, and his cavalry officer assistant, Colonel Hans Oster. Like a number of those who served Hitler, both men were secret but determined anti-Nazis. All but Müller were executed by the Nazis just before the war’s end.
Müller was also an airplane pilot. He is estimated to have flown a tiny light plane over the Alps to Merano in northern Italy some 150 times during war with permission of the government he was trying to destroy, carrying communications for the Pope from Hitler’s clandestine enemies. Müller also accompanied the well known German Protestant Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Rome, where the latter met with papal aides in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Another Protestant who worked with Hitler’s secret enemies was Count Helmut Moltke, called by the American diplomat George Kennan, “the greatest person, morally, and the largest and most enlightened in his concepts that I met on either side of the battle-lines in the Second World War.” Like Canaris and Oster, Moltke held a strategic governmental position in Hitler’s Third Reich, blocking the worst when he could, and paying with his life at the end of the war for his efforts. On the Pentecost weekend of May 22-25, 1942 Moltke hosted a meeting of some twenty people at his east German estate “Kreisau” (the “Kreisau Circle”) to discuss the building of a new “Decent Germany” after the war. Pius XII had helped plan the agenda, and was told about the discussion afterwards.
Riebling’s book is beautifully written, and reads like a novel. It makes severe demands on the reader nonetheless – due to the large cast of characters, and the fact that almost all of them are engaged in secret deception. Most had code names. Pius XII was “the Chief”.
Especially moving is Riebling’s account of Josef Müller’s private meeting with Pius XII, at the Pope’s request, on June 1st, 1945, just three weeks after the war’s end in Europe. “I had hardly crossed the threshold of his study,” Müller wrote, “when the Holy Father approached me, and embraced me.” He could hardly grasp how Müller had escaped. He felt as if his own son had returned from terrible danger.
The Pope put his arm around Müller’s shoulder and seated his guest next to him at a long table, but close, so that they could hold hands. “Pius XII has often been accused of being a proud and detached Roman” Müller wrote afterward, “I saw nothing of that during my audience. … I told Pius of my plans to fashion a new bloc [in Germany] from strong Christians, regardless of denomination, in order to confront collectivism [i.e. Communism]. That he agreed with this idea brought me great joy”.
It remains to pay tribute to Riebling’s publisher. The book’s dust jacket, and the volume itself, are both completely black, save for a silvery partial sketch on the jacket of a sinister looking figure in an over-sized miter, his right hand raised in blessing. It is impossible to overlook this visual reminder of the long flourishing Black Legend which Riebling so successfully demolishes in these riveting pages.
John Jay Hughes is a St. Louis priest and Church historian with a special interest in the Church’s confrontation with Hitler. His most recent book is the memoir: No Ordinary Fool: a Testimony to Grace.
57^ anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII
On the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Ven. Pope Pius XII,
with the organization of «Comitato Papa Pacelli»,
Saturday, October 10, 2015, in St. Peter’s Basilica,
in Rome, at 11 A.M.,
Card. Giovanni Lajolo,
former President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State,
will celebrate the Holy Mass,
at the altar of the Tomb of St. Peter,
in the Vatican Grottoes.
For those wishing to take part in the celebration,
the meeting is set for 10:15 am
at Porta di Petriano (Piazza del Sant’Uffizio).
Friday, October 9, 2015, at Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Rome), will take place a Congress about «Pius XII among Saints» (here, the program, in Italian). At the end of the Congress, it will be blessed a Pius XII painting in the Basilica.
Amazing miracle story for Pope Pius XII canonization?
A story from the web.
Postulation is collecting all the elements for investigation.
JON IS HOSPITALIZED
My nephew, Jon, went into the ER on Sunday March 23rd, 2014 because he was starting to have trouble breathing after a couple of days of just not feeling good, cough and on and off fever. They admitted him to the hospital with a diagnosis of influenza and secondary pneumonia. They started him on antibiotics and were monitoring his oxygen levels closely.
Through the course of the first night, they were concerned with the oxygen levels in his blood…they were too low. Monday they put him on a CPAP machine and continued to monitor him. Monday night, they were not happy with the way his oxygen levels remained low, despite measures being done to help him with that. It was recommended at that time that he be put on a ventilator to assist him in getting oxygen throughout his whole lungs. The influenza virus had attacked his lungs and caused a lot of inflammation to the lung tissues along with collecting fluid in the lungs that was blocking air from getting where it needed to go.
He was put on the vent and moved to the TLC unit at UW Hospital by Tuesday morning. He continued to degenerate until, finally, a decision was made to put Jon on ECMO. ECMO stands for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. It draws deoxygenated blood from the right aorta, pumps it out of the body through a machine that oxygenates it, then pumps it back into the right ventricle for the heart to then pump it out to the body. The purpose of this is to give Jon’s lungs a chance to rest and heal, letting the ECMO do the work his lungs would do for him. It would cleanse the retained carbon dioxide and give him oxygenated blood to pump through his body. I was later told that the ECMO is a very extreme measure, and the mortality rate is quite high for those who reach this point.
Our family spent many hours together in the waiting room during that period of time, and my sister, Mary (Jon’s mom), never left him. I was asking close friends to pray for him. On Thursday, April 3, an article appeared in a Catholic newspaper that was about a priest with ALS (Fr. Benjamin Reese) who was promoting the canonization of Pope Pius XII. Fr. Reese also had a great devotion to St. Joseph, so we chose to pray the Memorare to St. Joseph.
Also, Jon was given a very rare and incredibly beautiful image of Divine Mercy that Thursday. It was recently discovered in an Adoration Chapel at St. Mary’s in Burlington, Wisconsin. It turns out it is a third of now three original images painted before the ban in 1959. It was painted here, in Wisconsin, in the 1950s, by a very talented artist, Sr. Mary Luciana Kolasiski. Only three copies had been made from the original, and Jon received one to hang in his room. The medical staff commented that it is the most beautiful image of Jesus they have ever seen.
The day we almost lost Jon was on a Friday, April 4 (with Holy Week nearing, the family dubbed this, “Bad Friday”). The doctors explained to his mom and dad that they needed to take him off of blood thinners to stop very bad internal bleeding. They said that would clog the ECMO and his lungs would not be able to oxygenate his blood, and he would very likely pass. It was a lose-lose situation – if they did not take him off of the blood thinners, he would bleed to death, if they did take him off of the blood thinners, the ECMO machine would clog. My sister later shared that the doctors gave him a .5% chance of survival, only because they never want to say, “never.”
I was in the waiting room when my sister and her family returned, in tears, from that meeting with doctors. Once I heard this very grim prognosis, I took off from there and went to the trauma center and stood at Jon’s door praying 15 decades of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, with the intercession of Venerable Pope Pius XII. I looked up and saw it was the three o’clock hour on Friday. Just then, I received a very vivid image, in my mind, that the Blessed Mother received this petition, and placed it on a golden platter, and brought it to the throne of God. A confidence – trust – came over me, and I returned to my sister to tell her “this would not end in death.” She looked up at me, as if to say, “What do you know?”
We quickly asked everyone to pray the Memorare to St. Joseph, with the intercession of Venerable Pius XII. Thanks to social media, thousands around the world were praying this way for Jon!!
The next morning, I received no reports about Jon before heading over to early morning Mass. After Mass, I finally took some time to try to prepare a weekend homily. I was astounded to read that the Gospel was the Raising of Lazarus!! And then I read the passage where Jesus said, “This illness will not end in death, but will give glory to God” … almost the very words I spoke to my sister the day before, when things were looking their worst. At that exact moment, I started receiving messages from ecstatic family members who said Jon did a 180 during the night, and the ECMO machine was not clogging as anticipated.
Jon continued to make steady gains as they weened him off of the ECMO. They finally removed it on Wednesday of Holy Week. His lungs, miraculously, began to far exceed the best doctor’s anticipations. Dr. Love (a renowned expert of the ECMO) told my sister, “You have a 100% supernatural miracle on your hands … we not only took him off blood thinners, but added coagulants … there is no explaining why that machine did not clog, or why Jon’s lungs began to heal so quickly.”
My nephew, Jon, was able to speak for the first time today. He said, “What happened?” He had to be trained to swallow, so no solid food just yet. So, immediately following Holy Thursday Mass, I brought the Precious Blood of Jesus to Jon in an eye dropper. The first bit of nourishment to cross his lips after this amazing miracle was THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS ON HOLY THURSDAY! I told him that it was Mary who brought our prayers to the throne of God at that three o’clock hour on that amazing miraculous Friday. I said to him, “Jon, Behold your mother!”
Jon began to speak even more. Jon asked, “What are my goals today.” After they told him, he said, “I’ll exceed them!” That’s right, on Good Friday, Jon faced his Calvary with resolve and courage!! The night before, I was with him, around 9:30 PM (after Holy Thursday Mass), and they let me give him a few drops of the Precious Blood of Christ. I told him he was “out” for a while, and I told him how amazingly strong he is! (and we know that is supernatural strength he’s wielding). It truly WAS a Good Friday!!
Jon continued to make AWESOME strides in his recovery. He was determined to get better and go home. Jon’s #1 phrase was …”what’s next?” He repeatedly asked what was the next step in getting him better. He said, “I’ll doing anything to get out of here!” This, on the day we commemorate Christ in his tomb … WOW!!
RCMHeisnothereEaster Sunday – new life, a time of 2nd chances. That’s exactly what we continued to witness in Jon’s recovery. And if that’s not enough, that day we witnessed his rising! After my Easter Sunday Masses, I walked into the Trauma Center to look for Jon, and the entire staff looked up at me with huge smiles and said, “He is not here!” (Matthew 28:6). Literally…on Easter morning … he rose to the 5th floor, Acute Medical/Progressive Care Unit. Jon has moved UP to a step-DOWN unit.
Thank you, God! Thank you, Blessed Mother! Thank you, St. Joseph! Thank you, Pope Pius XII! And, thanks to all the wonderful prayer warriors!!
Ad majorem Dei gloriam!
“Shades of Truth”: a film about ‘Vatican Schindler’
A young Jewish journalist and his search of justice for a Pope. His courage to change opinion. And more… He enters in conflict with unknown powers. He is alone, except for his friend, a Catholic priest. He walks in Pius XII’s steps, he meets people who knew the Pontiff. He finds out deep secrets and has to deal with their truth. His life will change for ever.
“Shades of Truth” is a feature film by Italian film-maker Liana Marabini. She has made several other films about the Church. The cast includes Christophe Lambert and Marie-Christine Barrault (French), Gedeon Burkhard (German) and David Wall. The film is based on 100,000 pages of documents and testimonies, some of which are previously unpublished, from Holocaust survivors.
“I think the search for truth makes the life worthy to be lived. Pius XII saved hundreds of thousands of Jews and he cannot be scornfully called «Hitler’s Pope». Institutions and political parties that are against the Church tried to ternish his figure and reputation. I met persons who asserted: «I thank Pius XII, who gave me the life, saving my parents (or grand parents)». For me this is a sufficient reason to make this film». (Liana Marabini).
It will be screened at the Vatican in a worldwide preview on March 2nd. The film should be presented at the Cannes Film Festival in spring but will not be running in any of the categories.
Here, the trailer and more details.
Sir Martin Gilbert, Jewish Historian
Who Defended Pius XII, Dies
ROME — Sir Martin Gilbert, a widely respected British-Jewish historian who strongly defended the wartime record of Venerable Pope Pius XII, died Tuesday at the age of 78. He had been suffering from cancer for some time.
“Sir Martin Gilbert was an inspiration to all of us who seek the truth,” said Gary Krupp, the Jewish founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, an organization that has sought to uncover the truth about Pius XII and his efforts to save Jews in World War II.
The official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, Gilbert wrote the book The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust, which documented the action of the Church and Pope Pius XII in rescuing Jews from Nazi persecution.
He also wrote numerous books on the Holocaust, the First and Second World Wars and Jewish history. In the last years of his life, he became best known in Britain as a member of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War. The panel, which began in 2009, is investigating how U.K. forces came to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the BBC.
The Times of Israel described Gilbert as “a passionate Jew and Zionist,” who repeatedly used “his forensic skills to unpick telling details of the Jewish experience of the 20th century.”
Born in London on Oct. 25, 1936, Gilbert studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, and was tutored by the famous historian A.J.P. Taylor. After two years of postgraduate work, he was approached by Randolph Churchill to assist on a biography of his father, Sir Winston Churchill. When Randolph died, Gilbert took over the task and completed the remaining six main volumes of the biography.
Among his prodigious number of publications was a well-received, single-volume history on the Holocaust, as well as single-volume histories of the First and Second World Wars. His work on World War I was described as a “stunning achievement of research and storytelling.”
He described himself as an “archival historian,” who made extensive use of primary sources in his work. Gilbert also dismissed theories denying the Holocaust, saying in an interview with the BBC that he believed the tireless gathering of facts about the Holocaust would ultimately consign the deniers to history.
In 1999, Gilbert was awarded a doctorate from Oxford University “for the totality of his published work.” From 2002, he was a distinguished fellow of Hillsdale College, and between 2006 and 2007, he was a professor in the history department at the University of Western Ontario.
Praise for Pius XII
Pave the Way’s Krupp credits Martin with taking a leading role in highlighting Pope Pius XII’s actions to spare Jews from the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.
“As one of the world’s leading experts on the Holocaust and WWII, Sir Martin was well aware of the lifesaving efforts of Pope Pius XII, most especially to save the Jews from the barbarism of the Nazi regime,” Krupp told the Register. “It was Sir Martin who encouraged me to nominate Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) to Yad Vashem to be named ‘Righteous Among Nations.’”
In an interview in 2007, Gilbert explained how the wartime pope’s interventions and protestations directly helped to save 4,700 Jewish lives in Rome and that 477 Jews were given refuge in the Vatican. He also documented other ways in which Pius XII rescued Jews persecuted by the Nazis.
In an earlier interview in 2003, he hoped his research would “restore, in a way, on the foundation of historical fact, the true and wonderful achievements of Catholics in helping Jews during the war.”
Pave the Way Foundation also filmed an interview with Gilbert, during which he discussed his personal research on the actions of Pope Pius XII during World War II.
He was eager to see the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem open a file on Pius to study his worthiness to be included in the institution’s “Department of the Righteous.” He also wanted to see the wartime archives opened to the public so that historians could better understand Pius’ role.
Krupp said he once asked Gilbert why so many historians disagree on the wartime acts of the Vatican under Pius XII’s pontificate.
“He answered simply by telling me that one of his greatest heroes and role models, while at Oxford, was an Anglican minister who was a renowned historian,” Krupp said. “In a most gentle way, Sir Martin explained why there is so much controversy among historians. He said his role model’s tombstone simply said: ‘He tried to get history right.’ We will miss Sir Martin, his intellect and his wisdom.”
[by Edward Pentin, for National Catholic Register, all rights reserved]
Pope Pius XII and World War II
Inside the Vatican is a magazine that offers news and analysis on the Church and the world, since 1993. With the kind permission of the authors, we offer here a special report about the international conference on Pope Pius XII and his role in World War II, that took place in Rome, in October.
Here, however, a nice video on the same subject, and specifically on the relationship between Pius XII and the Jews of Europe. Please, if you can, share it!
Pope Francis to Israeli media:
«Pius XII was considered a big defender of the Jews»
In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview, his first to the Israeli media, Pope Francis expresses his sadness at the Jerusalem synagogue attack and the lack of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, voices his hatred for anti-Semitism and talks of his fears for the Christian communities persecuted by the Islamic State. The Pope talked also about Pius XII’s role in 2WW and Vatican archives.
When you visited Yad Vashem, you kissed the hands of six Holocaust survivors. You wrote in your book about the possibility of opening the Vatican archives from the period of the Holocaust. Are you still planning to do so?
«There is an agreement between the Vatican and Italy from 1929 that prevents us from opening the archives to researchers at this point in time. But because of the time that has passed since World War II, I see no problem with opening the archives the moment we sort out the legal and bureaucratic matters. One thing worries me, and I’ll be honest with you – the image of Pope Pius XII (the Pope at the time of World War II).
Ever since Rolf Hochhuth wrote the play, The Deputy, in 1963, poor Pope Pius XII has been accused of all sorts of things (including having been aware of the extermination of the Jews and doing nothing). I’m not saying he didn’t make mistakes. He made a few. I get things wrong often too. But prior to the release of the play, he was considered a big defender of the Jews. During the Holocaust, Pius gave refuge to many Jews in monasteries in Italy. In the Pope’s bed at Castel Gandolfo, 42 small children were born to couples who found refuge there from the Nazis. These are things that people don’t know. When Pius XII died, Golda Meir sent a letter that read: ‘We share in the pain of humanity. When the Holocaust befell our people, the Pope spoke out for the victims.’ But then along came this theater performance, and everyone turned their backs on Pius XII.
And again, I’m not saying that he didn’t make mistakes. But when you interpret history, you need to do so from the way of thinking of the time in question. I can’t judge historical events in modern-day terms. It doesn’t work. I’ll never get to the truth like that. Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, once gave me a copy of the book he wrote about the Inquisition. I read it studiously. I’m not saying we should justify the actions of the Inquisition, but we need to investigate this period with the right tools and only then pass judgment.
Did Pius XII remain silent in the face of the extermination of the Jews? Did he say all he should have said? We will have to open the archives to know exactly what happened. But to judge the actions, we will also need to understand the circumstances under which he was acting: Perhaps it was better for him to remain silent because had he spoken, more Jews would have been murdered? Or maybe the other way around? I don’t want to sound petty, but it really gets my goat when I see that everyone is against the Church, against Pius XII – all those detractors. And what about the Allies during the war? After all, they were well aware of what was going on in the death camps and they were very familiar with the railroad tracks that led Jews to Auschwitz. They had aerial photographs. And they didn’t bomb those tracks. I’ll leave that question hanging in the air, and say only that one needs to be very fair in these things».
But well-known German historian Michael Hesemann (here, the Official Website) says the Pope’s decision to be guarded in protest was a result of what he’d learned some years before, when while working in the Vatican Secretariat of State and as nuncio, he was privy to the Vatican’s information on the Armenian genocide and its attempts to stop it.
Protests from Pope Benedict XV and his diplomats only made the situation worse for the Armenians and that was history Pius XII didn’t want to repeat, Hesemann explains.
In an interview with ZENIT ahead of Pope Francis’ Nov. 28-30 trip to Turkey, Hesemann analyzes this massacre, and gives insight into the parallels with the Holocaust and Pius XII’s actions during the war.
ZENIT: Could you give a little information about yourself and your studies on both the Armenian genocide and Pius XII?
Hesemann: For the last 10 years, I worked on Pope Pius XII and tried to understand the motives for his alleged “silence” during the Holocaust and his numerous actions to save as many Jews as possible at the same time, which, may initially sound contradictory.
There is no doubt that the Jews were dear to his heart and important for him, but why didn’t he protest when he learned of their fate? This was a question I wanted to solve.
As a matter of fact, before he became Pope, Eugenio Pacelli had a long history serving in Vatican diplomacy, beginning with his career in the Secretariat of State, his 12 years as nuncio in Germany and his nine years as cardinal secretary of state under Pope Pius XI. When I, as a historian, received permission to study his files in the Vatican Secret Archives, I came across several documents dealing with the Armenian genocide of 1915-16, which piqued my interest. To learn more, I started to dig deeper into this subject and eventually located about 2,000 pages of hitherto unpublished documents on the biggest crime of World War I.
ZENIT: Could you please briefly explain the Armenian Genocide and what happened?
Hesemann: Under close scrutiny, the “Armenocide” appears like a model for the Shoah. Obsessed by a racist and nationalist worldview, the Young Turks, a political movement which came to power just before World War I, intended to transform the multinational and multireligious Ottoman Empire into a homogenous “Volksgemeinschaft” [literally “people’s community,” a term which referred to Hitler’s vision for an ideal German society]. Since racial characteristics were difficult to determine in the mixed population of Turkey, religion became the indicator of “true Turkishness:” A “true Turk” had to follow Sunnite Islam. Only homogenous “purity,” they believed, would save Turkey from “inner microbes” and “parasites” and make it strong enough to fight for the Pan-Turkish vision of this movement.
As “microbes” and “parasites,” the Young Turk ideologists recognized the Christian minorities: Armenians, Greeks and Syriac Christians. When the Germans dragged Turkey into World War I, when the Sultan, backed by the Sheikh-ül-Islam, the highest Muslim authority in Turkey, declared the djihad (“Holy War”) in November 1914, the Young Turks saw the opportunity they had been waiting for to solve their “Armenian problem” by eliminating the Armenians.
On April 24, 1915, hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and leaders in Constantinople were arrested and deported to the interior of the country, and most of them were murdered afterwards. To justify their actions, the Young Turk government accused the Armenians of a conspiracy with Russia and the preparation of a revolt, although it was never able to present any evidence for this claim. At this point, most male Armenians already served in the Turkish Army and were suddenly forced to do slave labor or got massacred. Beginning in May 1915, nearly the entire remaining Armenian population (of 2.1 million, before the war) was, province by province, town by town and village by village, deported. On foot, with nearly no bread and not even water, old men, women, children and those Armenians who were wealthy enough to avoid military service, were sent to Der Zor in the Syrian desert. On those death marches, hundreds of thousands died of exhaustion, starvation or diseases. Those who survived the miserable conditions were forced into concentration camps, starved there or died from cholera, typhoid and dysentery during the following months, became victims of massacres or were sent even deeper into the desert where local tribesman slaughtered them.
ZENIT: How did the Vatican learn about it?
Hesemann: By mid-June 1915, the apostolic delegate in Constantinople, Msgr. Angelo Dolci, learned about “rumors of massacres,” as he wrote in a telegraph to the Holy See. About a week later, he received confirmation that indeed a “persecution” with the purpose “to remove the element of the Christian Armenians from the entire province” took place. Among the victims were many Catholic Armenians, too. Even the Catholic bishop of Mardin, Msgr. Ignatius Maloyan (who was canonized by John Paul II), and several of his dignitaries were slaughtered after their deportation by mid-June. After learning the details of this massacre, [Msgr.] Dolci sent a written protest to the Grand Vizier, the “Prime Minister” of the Sultan, requesting the immediate stop of those deadly deportations at least for the Armenian Catholics. He did not even receive a reply. When the massacres continued, the Armenian-Catholic Archbishop of Chalcedon, Msgr. Peter Kojunian, sent an emotional letter to Pope Benedict XV, stating that “a systematic extermination of the Armenians in Turkey” was taking place
ZENIT: Did the Pope react to this letter?
Hesemann: Immediately! Benedict XV wrote a handwritten letter to Sultan Mehmet V, appealing to his “high-hearted generosity” and requesting his compassion for the innocent Armenians. The papal initiative was made public and reported by newspapers all over the world. At the same time, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Gasparri contacted the nuncios in Vienna and Munich, ordering them to promote the Holy See’s initiative to Turkey’s allies and urging them to interfere so that “these barbaric acts should immediately be stopped.” At the same time in Constantinople, Msgr. Dolci desperately tried to get the papal autograph to the Sultan but was refused several times by the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Porte). Only when the German ambassador interfered, Msgr. Dolci was received by Mehmet V on Oct. 23, 1915, after nearly six weeks. One month later, he was invited to pick up the sultan’s reply, justifying the deportations by the claim of an Armenian conspiracy.
ZENIT: Did the deportations, did the massacres, stop?
Hesemann: Not at all! The Turks promised all sorts of things, they promised to spare the Armenian Catholics … They promised that all deported Armenians would be home for Christmas, but these were all lies and false promises. The deportations and massacres continued until late 1916. Far away from being spared, at the end, 87% of the Armenian Catholics were murdered, an even higher percentage than that of the Orthodox Armenians, of which “only” 75% were killed. The papal protest not only had no success, it turned out to be counterproductive!
ZENIT: How did the Pope react?
Hesemann: Well, Benedict XV continued to try his best. In an allocution to the consistory on Dec. 6, 1915, he explicitly mentioned “the unlucky people of the Armenians who are nearly completely sent to extermination.” In 1918, when the Russians withdrew their troops from northeastern Turkey and new massacres occurred against the surviving Armenians, Pope Benedict sent a second letter to the Sultan; once again without any success. He had to learn that public protests just did not work and were even counterproductive, triggering the anger of the aggressor even more. Eventually, Msgr. Dolci, the apostolic delegate, wrote to – yes, indeed! – Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli: “By defending the Armenians, I lost the grace of Caesar, the Nero of this unlucky nation. I mean the Secretary of the Interior, Talaat Pasha, Grandmaster of the Masonic Orient. He must have learned of the great pressure which followed after the intervention of the Holy Father in form of his autograph, by the other embassies. Since then, I receive only malevolent looks from him.”
ZENIT: What does that mean for Pius XII and the Holocaust?
Hesemann: Well, all historians agree that his experience during World War I and especially the papal policy of neutrality and peacemaking, followed by Benedict XV, highly influenced the performance of Pius XII during World War II. Of course it did, since Pacelli already served in key positions during della Chiesa’s [Benedict XV’s] pontificate, first as secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Affairs of the Secretariat of State, then as nuncio. I discovered that nearly all information on the Armenian genocide went over his desk. The document I just quoted was only one example. So he also learned that all papal protests were not only useless, but even turned out to be counterproductive.
Pacelli, when confronted with the Holocaust, knew that Adolf Hitler would never react any better. Keep in mind that he knew Hitler for 19 years at that time; as nuncio in Munich, Pacelli had followed even the earliest footsteps of the Nazi dictator, describing National Socialism, in a memorandum sent to the Holy See already on May 1, 1915, as “the most dangerous heresy of our times.” In a conversation with the American consul in Cologne, reported to the [US] State Department in 1939, Pacelli’s views on Hitler, to quote the reporting diplomat “surprised me by their extremeness… He regarded Hitler not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel, but as a fundamentally wicked person … not capable of moderation.”
He knew that an open protest, which didn’t work in 1915, would never work in 1942, when he dealt with an even more evil, uncompromising and unscrupulous leader. He knew a protest would not help the Jews at all but only cause Hitler to turn against the Church and destroy the only infrastructure able to help and save many Jews.
ZENIT: Pope Francis is going to Turkey this month. Should he address this subject?
Hesemann: Indeed, it is a shame that the Turkish government still denies the Armenian genocide, using the very same lies and excuses as they did in 1915 in their reply to the papal initiative. Pope Francis experienced this on his own, when in June 2013 he called the events of 1915 absolutely, correctly “the first genocide of the 20th century.” Ankara immediately protested, called back its ambassador from the Holy See and called the Pope’s remark “absolutely unacceptable.”
But Pope Francis was right … Every neutral historian would support his view. I am very proud that this great Pope did not give up, but remembered the martyrdom of the Armenian nation again on May 8, 2014, when he received the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Karekin II in the Vatican. And I am sure he will not ignore this subject during his visit to Turkey, since the Turkish attitude is just unacceptable.
Next year, on April 24, the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of that genocide. Don’t you think it is eventually time to admit that it happened? I mean, look, I am German. My nation has committed the biggest crime in human history, the Shoah. We can’t bring 6 million Jews back to life, unfortunately. But we can regret, we can try our best to reconcile, we can learn from our history and prevent it from repeating. Isn’t it an originally Catholic concept that God will forgive you any sin when you only sincerely regret it, confess it and do penance? Nobody would blame modern-day Turks for what their ancestors did. But we blame them for denying it today, since any denial of a crime makes you an accomplice, a partner in that crime, a protector of murderers!
ZENIT: Do you think the Pope should also travel to Armenia?
Hesemann: That would be wonderful, since it would be a sign of fraternal solidarity with a suffering nation, a nation of martyrs. A sign against the silence, covering up so many endless chapters of human suffering, and a victory of the truth! I pray that he will visit Armenia in 2015, without any fear of diplomatic consequences. And I trust he will, since he fears only God, not men. But even more important would it be to reconcile those two nations. This can and will only happen when Turkey admits what happened a century ago. Only the truth makes us humans free to forgive.
ZENIT: How do you believe this visit can happen, or these steps toward reconciliation be achieved?
Hesemann: Well, who am I to recommend anything to the Successor of St. Peter? I trust in the intuition, the empathy and the genius of Pope Francis. Look what he did on his trip to the Holy Land, establishing a dialogue and the first step towards a reconciliation of Israelis and Palestinians, inviting them to a common day of prayer in the Vatican? This was so wonderful! Maybe such a gesture, bringing both, victims and ‘committers’ together, presenting the facts and inviting them to reconcile, would be the right sign for 2015. I have full trust in the Holy Father, that he will find the right words and gestures, once again.
King’s University College is pleased to announce that Dr. Robert A. Ventresca has been awarded The Harry C. Koenig Prize by the American Catholic Historical Association for his publication Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII (Harvard University Press, 2013).
In making their selection, the American Catholic Historical Association notes that Ventresca’s monograph “gives the best insight into one of the longest pontificates in the 20th century. The writing is scholarly yet effortless and engaging. Readers will appreciate the emotional intelligence that Ventresca brings to reading Pius’s personality.”
Soldier of Christ was also nominated for the prestigious 2015 Grawemeyer Award by the University of Louisville for highly significant contributions to religious and spiritual understanding.
Dr. Ventresca is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at King’s. He demonstrates, through his study of modern Italian and Church history, the complex intersection of religion and civil society and the role of religious traditions in the modern world. His current work explores how Catholic thought on modernity, the nation-state, race and the ‘Jewish Question’ influenced a range of Catholic responses to 20th century fascist bio-politics. He is a first-generation university graduate whose growing international reputation is evident through his publications and research presentations in North America and Europe.
Dr. Ventresca was recently elected as a Member to the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. The Royal Society of Canada is the highest recognized membership for scholars in Arts, Humanities and Sciences in our country. He recently returned from Washington, D.C. where he held a visiting teaching fellowship at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.
“This latest accolade for Professor Ventresca is yet another occasion for King’s to celebrate the exemplary achievements of our faculty,” says Dr. David Sylvester, Principal of King’s. “Robert embodies King’s commitment to scholarship, teaching and service to the broader community. His professional and personal integrity make him a treasured colleague and an inspiration to students. This recognition by the ACHA is well-deserved.”
King’s is a publicly-funded Catholic post-secondary institution founded in 1954. King’s provides general and honors degree programs in the liberal arts, social sciences, business, and a master’s degree in social work. It is positioned in the top rank of institutions of higher learning in Canada for the high quality of its teaching faculty and student experience. Institutionally-autonomous, King’s is academically-affiliated with Western University. King’s is open to students of all faith backgrounds, with its community centered on the principles of social justice and the education of the whole person.
[source: King’s University College site web]
«I Grew Up Hating Pius XII,
Then Learned This Man Was a Hero»
An American Jewish expert on Pope Pius XII, knighted to the Order of St. Gregory the Great under Pope John Paul II, considers the wartime Pope a hero, despite those who accuse him of failing to help the Jews. But Gary Krupp didn’t always hold Pius XII in high regard. In fact, he grew up “hating” him.
In an interview with ZENIT last week in Rome, Krupp, who founded the Pave the Way Foundation along with his wife, Merry, explains and defends the misunderstood Pope Pius XII and his actions during the Holocaust. Moreover, Krupp speaks to ZENIT on the status of the archives from the years of Pius XII’s reign.
Pius XII served as Pope from 1939 to 1958 during WWII and the Occupation of Rome. He has been subjected to criticism by those who claim he and the Vatican didn’t do enough to confront the atrocities of Nazi Germany.
ZENIT: As a Jewish man, could you explain how your relationship with the Catholic Church first came to be?
Krupp: It started when a delegation from Rome came to Long Island. I met the Superior of Padre Pio’s hospital … Bishop Riccardo Ruotolo. He was accompanied by Bishop Luigi Sposito and Bishop Domenico D’Ambrosio. I built medical facilities and one of our friends asked if I would meet them, to see if I could be of help to the hospital.
So we had lunch and so on and I said, “It would be my pleasure to assist the hospital,” which I probably did for more than 25 years, help them get all their medical equipment. We renegotiated their medical acquisition projects through our US connections. This, of course, we did as a gift at no charge…We saved them almost 20 million dollars and probably made them one of the best-equipped hospitals in all of Europe.
For this work, Bishop Ruotolo had recommended me to be knighted to the Order of St. Gregory the Great.
ZENIT: Yes, you were honored with knighthood by Pope John Paul II. Could you speak more about that honor?
Krupp: Yes, it’s a really rare honor for a Jewish person, but it is also an obligation. Because once that happened, I realized I am now bridging two religions. And I felt it was extremely important that we follow that line. I now have an obligation to bring the Jewish people closer to Catholics, and the state of Israel closer to the Holy See.
What we initiate is historic gestures. One gesture, which was very, very important, is that we gave the Catholic Church one of the most important Christian manuscripts in their entire collection, the Bodmer Papyrus, the Gospels of St. John and Luke written in 175 AD. We were able to identify that this was being sold privately through Christies, by the Bodmer Library in Switzerland and then were able to locate a donor… a very close friend of our family, Frank Hanna III… In January 2007, we presented it to Pope Benedict who then raised me in rank to Commendatore Con Placca.
ZENIT: How was that experience for you, to be not only knighted but then raised in rank by Pope Benedict?
Krupp: It was incredible because we adamantly never expected that to happen. We had a private lunch with then Cardinal Bertone at the Paul VI residence, in the rooftop garden there…When he [Benedict] raised me in rank, it was fantastic because what that does…These honors are more important for people of other faiths because they find it so unusual. I get their attention and enable us to initiate our projects. In 2006 I was invested into the Anglican order of St. John of Jerusalem. So that’s very, very rare as well. So the idea is that these wonderful honors do have a serious obligation. Our ultimate goal is to remove or lessen the use of God’s holy name for private agendas. That’s what we do. That’s how all this got started
The Muslims especially find it absolutely fascinating, which has given us the ability to help the Greek Orthodox Church. We eliminated the Muslim objection to open the Halki Seminary in Turkey through the Covenants of Protection ordered by the Prophet Muhammad.
Currently, we especially see this through what are called the Covenants of Protection ordered by the Prophet Muhammad in 628 AD to protect the people of the book (Jews and Christians) their churches, synagogues and holy shrines until the end of days. We have images of the original covenants on our Web sites (www.ptwf.org). Since our friends in media do not seem to think this is religious news, Pave the Way is about to pay for an international advertising campaign in the international New York Times. Only a handful of Muslim scholars know of these covenants, which carry the same legal authority as the Quran. We’re dealing with Islamic Extremism against Christians which, according to the covenants, are insulting the prophet Muhammad and insulting Islam. This has all been researched by Dr. John Andrew Morrow, such as Imam Ilyas Islam. There have been hundreds of Islamic scholars and leaders who have signed on to this.
ZENIT: In terms of the Pave the Way Foundation, could you speak about it?
Krupp: We deal with interreligious action not dialogue. We initiate huge historic gestures between religions. Then we use our earned foundation of trust to identify non-theological obstacles between the faiths, and work to resolve them. We’ve been hugely successful with these projects.
We initiated the first loan in history from the Vatican library to the State of Israel – of the most important manuscripts of Maimonides – then the Israelis loaned back to the Vatican a Rembrandt and a Botticelli for the Vatican Basilica. We open these cultural exchanges and doors that have never been opened before. This is real action, not words.
Moses Maimonides is one of the most important scholars in Judaism and we actually brought a group of rabbis here in 2002 to see rare illuminated manuscripts in the Vatican Library. And they were so gracious and wonderful. When I saw a Hasidic rabbi embrace then prefect Fr. Raffaele Farina and librarian Cardinal Jorge Mejia at that time, that sowing of genuine affection between religious leaders spawned Pave the Way.
ZENIT: Other than your personal knighthood by Pope John Paul II, does Pave the Way have any other “memories” of the recently canonized Polish Pope?
Krupp: We had the last major private audience with John Paul II, January 18, 2005. We had 168 Jewish leaders, six Israeli Ambassadors to come to say thank you to His Holiness. The Catholic Church gives relics back to religious leaders and does all kinds of fantastic gestures, and very rarely do I ever hear thank you. And so we said, well you know what, let us do a thank you for what he had done for certainly the state of Israel, he established normalized relations. All his gestures were so fantastic… And we want to thank him for this and this was his last audience. We had three rabbis bless Pope John Paul II in Sala Clementina and he started to cry. So these are the images that further encourage our work to deal with problems.
Pave the Way has a close relationship with the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Churches in Jerusalem. We were responsible for getting the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III his affirmation from the Israeli government, PTWF even weighed in with the status quo problem of replacing the bathrooms in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and things like that. We support the Palestinians Wasatia forum, which seeks to create third party choice for the Palestinians who renounce the Hamas charter to destroy Israel and wish to build a real self-sufficient and transparent government to benefit the Palestinian people to live in peace with Israel… We work with many Israeli entities all using our good relations for our projects. We’ve dealt with these really big issues, and we’ve succeeded with them. That’s the key. Work behind the scenes. Not many people know who we are or what we do, but we succeed with this stuff because we just don’t stop until the job is done.
And Pius XII is the best example of a success.
ZENIT: Yes, speaking of Pius XII, could you first elaborate on the ways he helped the Jewish people, particularly during the Holocaust?
Krupp: Yes, starting from the beginning, when I grew up hating him … Then, all of a sudden discovering we were really lied to, and we are still continuing to be lied to by people who continue to lie to us, under the guise of being historians. They’re not just being historians, they have a private agenda, and so they’ve destroyed this man’s reputation; he was universally beloved up until 1963, [then] without a shred of evidence, the world thinks this way though there’s not a shred of proof. The thing is we have documented proof. Thanks to Michael Hesemann, William Doino, Fr Peter Gumpel, Dimitri Cavalli, Ron Rychlak and many others who contribute to this efforts.
We have many letters of the Pope sending money for the Jews being protected in Vienna, in Toulouse, France, Campagna in Slovenia, all over Europe. We have testimony from people brought into the Vatican. There was sort of an underground railroad. They stayed in the Vatican State for a few weeks and went into Portugal, and then into the Dominican Republic when transportation could be arranged, all coordinated by Pius XII, by this Pope.
In Judaism, the worst character flaw we can have is ingratitude. Where do we get this: the Bible. When Moses was bringing the plagues upon Egypt, he had to hand his staff to Aaron to turn the Nile into blood because if he did it, that would have showed he saw ingratitude to the Nile which gave him life.
So this is a very, very important principle.
The Jewish people deserve this redemption, to understand that this man was one of the only heroes during World War II. I’m telling you that unfortunately, Roosevelt, Churchill, many of the Jews of the United States did not do enough. They could have done more. But this man, he acted. We can prove he acted. And everyone alive during the period knew it.
So, all of a sudden at the very time of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration Nostre Aetate, [his public image] changed. And that’s a big problem, because it shows how disinformation and the media can – when it’s manipulated – we see lies and false stories become the truth. When the Premier of China Mao Tse Tung said a lie told 1,000 times becomes a truth, it’s the truth… as we are like little sheep.
Merry Krupp: [Interjects] I think you should explain, We started out hating, we really didn’t want to take this on, but …
Gary Krupp: [Resumes] It was actually Archbishop Franco who is the nuncio to Israel, and Merry and I were having lunch with him. And he said the Yad Vashem [Holocaust Memorial of Jerusalem] had put up this very terrible sign, this plaque about him [Pope Pius XII]. Would we help? We said we would look into it. I walked out of that lunch thinking “Why would I want to do something for Pius XII?” [laughs]. Then circumstances. God stepped in. Because God does run everything. Let us be absolutely certain of this. Everything that’s happened to us has been because it’s been determined…this is divine intervention all the time.
The point is…I get a call from the head of the New York Board of Rabbis. Right after this meeting, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik who was with us by the way in 2005. And he said, you know, there’s a Jewish journalist who wants to write a book on Pius XII. Can you get him with access in Rome?
I said, “Look, I don’t like Pius XII, but I am not going to contribute to another negative book about this. It just causes more separation between Jews and Catholics.” He said, “No, no. Just meet him.” So, I did. I met him. And he said, “I interviewed General Karl Wolff [Himmler’s deputy and commandant to Italy] before he died. And my book is on that Hitler ordered a plan to invade the Vatican, kidnap the Pope, and take him to Lichtenstein by where he would be killed. He would kill the entire Roman curia, and have seized the Vatican.”
I said, “What are you talking about? Wasn’t he [the Pope] a collaborator?” Absolutely not. Exactly the opposite … That’s where it started.
Now I get a call, from who is now the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Celestino Migliore. He called me and said, “Gary, I think you should go and try to find Sister Dr. Margherita Marchione.” So I went out to New Jersey, Morristown, NJ. I had a special visa to let me go out to New Jersey [laughs]. And we went out to Sister, and she started showing us documents, letters, and testimonies. Things from people where the Pope interceded to save the Jews.
She, this sister, is really the one who started this. Sister Margherita is the one who really, really started this. She’s this little nun, about 92 now, and she’s very feisty, and doesn’t take crap from anybody [laughs]. She had opened an exhibition on Pius XII.
Yea, before Merry and I started this, anyone who reads this, I tell them: they can do this themselves. I tell every critic: Go onto the net, and go to the archives of the New York Times, Palestine Post, I went to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, which is the Jewish news service worldwide for 100 years. [Go to] all of the archives and search: Jews, Pius XII, 1939-1958, you will not find one negative article.
Now how is that possible about this person who was a demon, that everybody hates? So what they do, is you’ll have these people who have prostituted themselves. There are historians, PhDs in history, who teach in Columbia University and Harvard University, who have prostituted themselves, because they’ve made statements about this man, and have never actually done original research. They’ve never set foot in the Vatican Secret Archives — which Merry and I were there the day with Michael, and we found a document where the Vatican was protecting Jews, and this was 1932 […]
ZENIT: Could you speak on the evidence or documentation that surfaced?
Krupp: We actually found a document from the German Catholic Priest association, where they are inquiring about the fact that they had read in the Nazi paper that there was a Jewish librarian at the Vatican library, or there was a Jewish man working at the library. And they wanted information about this to sort of spread the good word, because the Vatican hired Jews. The most amazing thing, just to give you an example: the B’Nai Brith, which is the anti defamation league then, who hates him today for reasons unknown, in May of 1940, the B’nai Brith magazine, on the front cover, has Pius XII’s picture right on the front, and what does it say: The Pope has been hiring the Jews who have been fired by the Italian government for 1938 racial laws. And this is the sort of thing we’ve found. The idea is that I have begged these historians, show me one document. Show me anything. Nothing. […]
Our book that we have has … Really, we have a Harvard professor of history on the Holocaust who said this is the best book he has ever seen on this. Why, because it’s not made for scholars. It’s made for the everyday person. It’s made for the person who wants to understand it. So we show an image of a document. You can’t read it because first of all they’re often in German, Latin, or Italian, but there’s the document. So go to our Web site, download it. To date, we have 76,000 pages of documentation. We have multiple eyewitness interviews with some very prominent historians. Sir Martin Gilbert, and so on. Fr. Peter Gumpel and so on. But you know it’s irrelevant. And I can tell you that none of the historians have ever come to our Web site, as you need to register, as it’s copyrighted material belonging to the Holy See, to the Vatican libraries. So none of them have come to that. None of them have come to the Vatican Archives because we’ve checked the register, or the Secretary of State Archives.
So where are they getting their material from? It’s smoke and mirrors that they’ve developed in the 1960s … Show me anything, they can’t. I challenge anyone to do that. I even said you could put every single one of these brilliant historians on a table. I will go on the other side and I will beat them at a debate. I am sorry.
ZENIT: There have been many suggestions saying Pius XII was too neutral and didn’t do enough, in terms of responding to what was going on. What’s your response to this?
Krupp: He was neutral. The Vatican had to retain its neutrality. Consequently the Catholic Church under Pius XII may have saved what was estimated at about 800,000 Jews and Jewish lives … But it’s the actions of the Roman Catholic Church under the papacy of Pope Pius XII that did this! And, it’s interesting because people will just credit individual bishops or priests who did things to help, but then think it just stops there and doesn’t come to, from the Vatican. How naïve can someone be to think the bishops are doing the same thing all over the place and think there’s no direction, there’s no request. It doesn’t make any sense.
ZENIT: In terms of the Pius XII archives, can you give a little background on their status? Is there a date on which they are expected to open?
Krupp: Well, they are not open as of yet. We’re hoping that they will be open soon. We know the Secretary of State Archives are ready to be opened, but they are also held back until the Pope decides they should be opened. But this is a critical thing. Because even to announce that it’s going to open, lets off a good load of steam and pressure.
ZENIT: What will the archives allow scholars to do?
Krupp: Well assuming they’ll come, and that’s a big assumption because when the archives were opened up in 2006 — Pope Benedict had opened all of the archives up until 1939 — no one came. So people say, we’ll see when the archives open. But once they do, let’s see if they’ll actually come.
ZENIT: And when will they open?
Krupp: We have no idea. Everyone guesses. I could have sworn they would have opened two years ago. It’s up to Pope Francis… But everything is ready. We need him to focus on that issue now [laughs].
ZENIT: How is Pope Francis promoting this cause?
Krupp: Well, I know he’s interested because all of his statements, all his public statements have been very favorable and positive about Pius XII. And, which, it’s surprising but there are a lot of people who attack the Church through his papacy. So it has nothing to do with him as an individual, or what he did. But that’s their ability to attack the Catholic Church, you know. But this sort of garbage that goes on. People take sentences from here and there. And they come up with these theories.
We had a symposium at the Sorbonne, co-sponsored by Professor Edouard Husson Vice Chancellor and Pave the Way Foundation, in which those on the side of the debate defending Pius XII won, based on their evidence and argument being far stronger than those opposed.
There was a very distinguished so-called church historian in from Canada, who will remain nameless, who actually said, after Michael Hesemann showed document after document after document, “We can’t let a few scraps of documents determine history or be any form of evidence.” To date, we have over 76,000 thousands of pages of resource material, they’re not scraps. And you have nothing to determine history.
ZENIT: From your point of view, how do you believe Pope Francis is pursuing relationships with the Jewish world?
Krupp: Yes, well I had the pleasure of having dinner with his rabbi friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka in New York. He was emphasizing “the silence of Pius XII” and I said, Pius XII wasn’t silent. He spoke out through the L’Osservatore Romano or the Vatican Radio pieces even according to the Jewish Telegraph agency reports; they were constantly speaking out against persecution of the Jews. So he’s never been silent.
The rabbi said he knows the archives need to be opened. I only hope that the critics who have made millions of dollars selling their attacking false and negative books will actually come to visit the archives. We know none of them came when the archives where opened up to 1939 in 2006. But I did have a very nice evening with him. You know, it’s too important of an issue.
This is a very special time because people use Pius XII to attack the Catholic Church and for that reason alone they should be able to make a special accommodation to open these archives, even in part, if they can’t be completely opened. It takes generations to sift through archival material and certainly a partial opening will not be impacted by research. But it makes absolute sense. And it relieves the pressure in order to begin to heal this rift.
An announcement of the opening will silence all of those who say the reason the Church won’t open the archives is because they are hiding negative documents. That’s why it’s that critically important.
ZENIT: How will the archives help the Catholic Church?
Krupp: Well, they’re going to prove because through our research we discovered war time documents from all over Europe. We know there is a huge amount of information about this Pope and how Pius the XII saved Jewish lives.
And he didn’t have to. He’s not the head of the Jewish world. Sadly, we saw how in the US in New York, just as an example, the Jewish editor of the New York Times, Arthur Hays Sulzberger [the publisher of The New York Times from 1935 to 1961] had intentionally hid all the atrocities of the Holocaust on page 16, page 8, and buried them in little articles for some bizarre reason. So we have that on one end here.
But here’s the head of the Roman Catholic Church who risked his life and knew he was going to be killed. And most important [for this history] are the Roman Jews. They are the ones that need the most redemption. Because this community is literally alive today due to the direct actions of Pope Pius XII.
Michael Hesemann found documents, where Pacelli sent his nephew, Carlo Pacelli, to meet with an Austrian Bishop Alois Hudaland demanding that he write a letter to General Reiner Stahel who was the Rome city commander to end the arrest of the Jews or the Pope would vehemently condemn the action of the Nazis. This public condemnation would enrage Hitler which might trigger the invasion of the Vatican. The letter was prepared (this is on our Web site) and was hand delivered by Salvadorian priest Pancratius Pfeiffer to Stahel and then Stahel immediately called Himmler [Heinrich Himmler – Reichsfuhrer of the Schutzstaffel (SS)], who based on a military reason, ordered the arrest stopped at 2 p.m. the day they started. This telephone conversation was confirmed to Fr. Gumpel by General Dietrich Beelitz who was ordered to listen to all command telephone conversations. Pave the Way also obtained the original telegram from Berlin ordering the arrest of the 8,000 Jews of Rome where they were supposed to be sent to Mauthausen, a work camp, to be held as hostages. The Jews who were arrested were sent, but it was assumed that it was Adolf Eichmann who overruled the telegram and sent them to the death camp of Auschwitz.
The German military command knew that if Hitler had ordered the arrest of the Pope, there would be riots all over Catholic Europe. They had enough trouble just trying to fight the war. They knew it would have been a military disaster and they did everything possible to avoid upsetting Hitler, which would have his ordering the invasion of the Vatican. And that’s why it’s remarkable. We have proof…It was Pius XII, who acted directly to stop the arrest of all the Jews and acted to lift cloister to hide them in convents and monasteries, Catholic homes, churches, all over Italy.
Eighty percent of the Jews of Italy survived, 80 percent of the Jews outside of Italy were killed. So it’s very important, and very critical, that needs to be told: This man was a hero. Period! There’s nothing mysterious about it.
Disinformation lies and media manipulation, which has hidden the truth from the everyday person, is doing the same thing today, in the Middle East. The same thing is happening. Israel has been victimized continuously, with tens of thousands of rocket attacks. There are only protests in all the major cities about the “Palestinian Genocide” and yet not one word of protest about the hundreds of thousands of atrocities committed against Christians and Muslims through sectarian violence in many Muslim countries. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Jews, Christians and Muslims have full and equal rights and are free to worship without fear of violent actions. It’s just crazy, but it shows you how this media-manipulation causes death and destruction. All of this is done in God’s Holy name and this is something we actively oppose.
[source: Zenit. The world seen from Rome]
Pope Declares There is No Conflict
Between Big Bang, Evolution and
The Catholic Faith… In 1951
The secular media has grasped on to a recent speech that the Holy Father Pope Francis gave to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences. In the speech which was given on the occasion of the unveiling of a bust of his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis gave remarks concerning the theories of Evolution and The Big Bang.
“The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve” the Pope Said.
In the typical fashion that we have gotten accustomed to, the media has presented this as novel approach for a Pontiff, a new direction, a break from his unenlightened, firmly planted in the dark ages, predecessors on the Chair of St. Peter. It is presented as though past Catholic teaching was similar to American Fundamentalism, and it’s scientifically awkward defense of “Young Earth” creationism.
But this is simply not the case.
The Church and the Popes have long been patrons of the sciences, from the earliest developments of the scientific method by Roger Bacon, OFM, a Franciscan Friar to Monseigneur Georges Lemaître, the Belgian Priest/Astrophysicist/Cosmologist who developed the theory of the Big Bang. To assert that Pope Francis’ remarks on these scientific theories is novel is simply a gross, and likely wanton, inaccuracy.
In fact, Pope Francis’ venerable predecessor, Pius XII gave an address to the very same body to which Francis gave his remarks, stating that there was no conflict between Evolution, the Big Bang and the Catholic Faith… in 1951. (In the picture, Pope Pius XII receives Msgr. Georges Lemaître, the Belgian priest who proposed the Big Bang theory).
The speech, given on November 22, 1951, was titled “The Proofs For The Existence Of God In The Light Of Modern Natural Science“. In this speech, Pius XII gives a graceful and learned spiritual grounding to the, at the time, new theory of the “Expanding Universe”.
“True science discovers God in an ever-increasing degree—as though God were waiting behind every door opened by science.” “It is undeniable that when a mind enlightened and enriched with modern scientific knowledge weighs this problem calmly, it feels drawn to break through the circle of completely independent or autochthonous matter, whether uncreated or self-created, and to ascend to a creating Spirit. With the same clear and critical look with which it examines and passes judgment on facts, it perceives and recognizes the work of creative omnipotence, whose power, set in motion by the mighty “Fiat” pronounced billions of years ago by the Creating Spirit, spread out over the universe, calling into existence with a gesture of generous love matter busting with energy. In fact, it would seem that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial “Fiat lux” uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, while the particles of chemical elements split and formed into millions of galaxies.”
Just a year earlier, in his encyclical “Humani Generis“, Venerable Pius XII wrote concerning the theory of Evolution
“For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter — for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faithful Some however rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from preexisting and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.”
Subsequent Popes, particularly Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, have made similarly statements about the harmony between true religion and true faith. So when the media presents Pope Francis’ recent statements as a novelty that changes Catholic teachings or breaks with past Popes, do not put stock in it and remember the long standing patronage and acceptance of science by the Bride of Christ.
Fides Et Ratio!
The Pope wanted him Archbishop of Milan, in 1954, after the death of Card. Schuster; on that occasion, Pius XII, unable to personally attend the ceremony of episcopal ordination, recorded a radio message – that today you can hear thanks to a collaboration with Vatican Radio – which, in Italian, addressed to Montini as the «faithful collaborator, now become brother».
Become Pope in 1963, Paul VI promoted the Cause of Beatification of Pacelli, today entrusted to the Society of Jesus, and inaugurated the monumental statue of Pius XII, offered by the Cardinals created by him, in the Basilica of St. Peter’s (March 12, 1964). On that occasion, the Pope spoke words of esteem and affection, which were retrieved from the Card. Burke in his homily for the Mass in the Vatican Grottoes of October 4.
The Blessed Pope Paul VI spoke in Italian of the existence of Pius XII as «a priestly life, pure, pious, austere, laborious, often suffering, all devoted to the study, prayer, service to the Church». Here, the link to the video of the inauguration of the statue by Italian artist Francesco Messina. Today, still it is possible to pray before that image of Pius XII, in the chapel of San Sebastian, in St. Peter’s, where he is buried Saint John Paul II, in order to find – in the words of Paul VI – «admonition and encouragement of religious feeling, of manifold wisdom, of human kindness».
Pius XII and World War II:
assumptions and new archival evidence
Pius XII: more archive material uncovered by a US Jesuit historian
Jesuit Father Gerald Fogarty teaches religion and history at the University of Virginia in the United States and is an expert on diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United States.
He was in Rome early October to attend a conference which focused on new archival evidence relating to Pope Pius XII. Father Fogarty who has recently checked out archives connected to this pontificate in the United States and across Europe was asked by Veronica Scarisbrick if he’d come across any significant information in the course of this research.
It seems that some of the information Father Fogarty discovered in private archives in the United States, refer to the visit this twentieth century pope made there in 1936 when he was still Cardinal Pacelli, Vatican Secretary of State. Among the archive material he consulted is the diary of the United States Ambassador to Italy of the time, William Philips. What transpires is that while there were no diplomatic relations between the US with the Holy See at the time the Ambassador did manage to meet the Cardinal Secretary of State at a social level through mutual friends and writes that Pacelli made clear on this occasion that he was anti-Hitler.
In another entry, this time following the election of Pius XII in 1939, Ambassador Philips writes of more negative information relating to this war time pope afforded him by Belgian broadcaster from Vatican Radio, Jesuit Father Emmanuel Mistiaen. Information which refers to a particularly complicated situation Father Fogarty comments.
Listen to this interview which also touches on archival information relating to the personal representative of President Roosevelt to the Pope in 1941. An appointment made when the war broke out and the US State Department decided it wanted to have an American ear inside the Vatican walls.
[source: Radio Vaticana]
Low countries: Church policy at the time of WWII
‘Pius XII and World War II : assumptions and new archival evidence’, that was the title of a conference that took place here in Rome on Thursday October 2, 2014.
Among the participants were historians Professor Lieve Gevers of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and Professor Jan Bank of the University of Leiden in Holland who have done some research together in an effort to shed light on the reaction of different Churches across Europe regarding issues connected to the Second World War. Reactions which often differed from country to country as Veronica Scarisbrick found out when she spoke to these two Professors from the Low Countries.Professor Gevers highlights how while the German occupiers influenced Church policy in both nations, in terms of the two churches’ attitude towards the persecution of Jews and the holocaust the policies adopted were dramatically different.
While Belgian cardinal, Jozef-Ernest van Roey who served as Archbishop of Meichlin adopted a diplomatic approach, Dutchman Archbishop Johannes de Jong of Utrecht created cardinal by Pius XII in 1946 was far more outspoken.
Both prelates says Professor Lieve Gevers were motivated by the same reasons and ideas but the result of their decisions carried with them responsibility and an ensuing moral question.
As in this case of the Dutch Archbishop who with his outspoken manner provoked a retaliatory effect on the part of the Germans which led to persecution, imprisonment and the death of Jews.
With hindsight one can affirm the Professor remarks, that the cautious attitude, similar to that of Pius XII, adopted by the Belgian Archbishop was the safest. Despite this she adds historians can never answer the moral dilemma with their research.
Professor Jan Bank also examines this question taking it a step further by explaining that history has taught us that you also have to take into account the broader picture. That’s to say what kind of occupation is taking place in a nation, what kind of regime is in place and even what influence a papal nuncio might have in a given country.
Also important he says in many nations was the presence as key players of other churches, for instance in Holland the Dutch Reformed Church, a solidarity which gave birth to the first ecumenical protests and policies.
[source: Radio Vaticana]
On the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Ven. Pope Pius XII,
with the organization of «Comitato Papa Pacelli»,
Saturday, October 4, 2014, in St. Peter’s Basilica,
in Rome, at 11 A.M.,
Card. Raymond Leo Burke,
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura,
will celebrate the Holy Mass,
at the altar of the Tomb of St. Peter,
in the Vatican Grottoes.
For those wishing to take part in the celebration,
the meeting is set for 10:15 am
at Porta di Petriano (Piazza del Sant’Uffizio).
60 years since the first Angelus of Pope Pius XII
“Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae“. This was how time was chanted… at various hours of the day… the mystery of the Incarnation. Louis XI, King of France in the late fifteenth century, codified praying the Angelus three times a day; in the morning, at noon and in the evening. The sound of the bells interrupted the work of all Catholics, kings and peasants alike, as depicted in Millet’s famous painting of the man and woman with heads bowed and hands folded in the middle of the fields, as well as, the clumsy clerk in the first act of Tosca, who paused from his work to quietly recite that ancient prayer, only to be interrupted by the intrusion of the painter Cavaradossi.
Perhaps thoughts no longer turn to the beautiful painting in the Musee d’Orsay or to Puccini’s unsurpassed scene in Sant’Andrea della Valle. However, instead the younger generation well remembers that last Angelus from the papal apartment window of John Paul II, and who could forget the end of February two years ago when more than a hundred thousand people gathered before this same window to say thanks to Benedict XVI, “God is calling me to climb the mountain…” If praying the Angelus no longer marks the daily rhythm of hours for the ”sophisticated man of today,” it at least still marks the day of the Lord – as in Rome where thousands and thousands of people – urbis et orbis – pray the Angelus together with Pope Francis.
Yet it is an event older than many may remember… A fixed appointment – “We want rituals,” explains the fox to the Little Prince wisely – which this year we celebrate sixty years; and, considering the crowds gathered every Sunday, carries no sign of a wrinkle. Pius XII had started this in 1954 the Year of Mary. The pope was already beginning to not feel well: gastritis, you know, does not forgive. Sister Pascalina, a faithful witness, notes: “On July 31, 1954 when the hottest days were almost past, Pius XII was able to move around and go to Castel Gandolfo. Here his stay was more than ever overwhelmed by work, by hearings and speeches, and, for his part, there was not that full availability”. And here begins “our” story.
L’Osservatore Romano on the 16th of August of that year reported: “At 12 o’clock yesterday, Sunday, on the Feast of Mary of the Most Holy Assumption, the Holy Father graciously consented to broadcasting his recitation of the Angelus via the Vatican radio station, which was connected to the national network Radiotelevisione Italiana. By this means, the Supreme Pontiff, adhering to the desire of the Italian Branch of Catholic Action, gave a solemn way to recognize the illustrious glory of the Holy Virgin, radiant in this Year of Mary, to members and to all the faithful to join him devotedly in pious salute to the Mother of God”.
The Venetian Professor Luigi Gedda, who in those years was the President General of Catholic Action, convinced the Pope to do this. In truth he had to insist, as much as is possible to insist with a Pope. But the experiment won over the pope’s initial reticence, and must have pleased Pius XII so much so that by that autumn he willingly accepted to pray the Angelus together with the faithful, no longer from the microphone of Vatican Radio, but directly overlooking the Piazza from the window of his apartment. That window, which ever since, the world began to know well.
Love wants its rituals; it was said by Saint-Exupéry, and the dialogue coming from that window since August of 1954 really is a ritual – ever continuing – of love. Sr. Pascalina told with effective expression, “The Holy Father behind that window did not rest.” The crowd, especially on big occasions, poured into the square, and Pius XII did not “resist”: “He had to continually open it to bless and bless…”. Appropriately when he was at Castel Gandolfo – where the space gives a less formal climate – the dialogue became more intimate. “They came into the courtyard of the papal villa and sang, shouted, calling the Holy Father; huddled and jostling each other until the Pope presented himself on the balcony to his children and entered into a dialogue so simple and natural, so modest and elevated that it cannot be described in words. “Until the last day, when they had to stop him from getting up to give the blessing which retained the square every night”.
Then came Saint John XXIII, and the care he brought to the children; Paul VI, with accents sometimes tragic; and then the smile of John Paul I. The rest is recent history. A dialogue of love between Peter and his men, which is the concreteness of a bond still alive. Today, you can listen to the recording of that first Angelus, thanks to Vatican Radio in collaboration with the official site of the Cause of Canonization of Pope Pacelli. The important work of digitization from the Pontifical Sound Archives, inaugurated by Pius XI, allows you to clearly listen to the voice of the Pastor Angelicus, sixty years after that August 15, 1954 address – the first event of a rite of “love” that never stops.
[from L’Osservatore Romano, Italian version, August 15, 2014; translation by Mark Tamisiea]
In april, Vatican Radio’s Director General Father Federico Lombardi announced digitalization of over 8000 audio recordings featuring the voice of all the Popes from Pius XI through to Francis. «Vatican Radio’s sound archives date from 1931 when the radio was set up by Pope Pius the 11th and they include the voices of every Pope since then. The digital archive was compiled using audio sources that ranged from old 78 records, magnetic tape, to CDs and includes sound from over 23,000 different events».
Drawing on this precious heritage, Vatican Radio has accepted the request for cooperation made by the postulation for the Cause of Beatification of the Venerable Pope Pius XII, and has kindly provided a portion of the audio material, which is now offered to the devotees and anyone who visits this website, on page Listen.
Note that recordings of the voice of Pope Pius XII on this Site are property of Vatican Radio and belong to its Archive of Popes’ voices. To it belong all rights relating to the use of those records, which are made available solely for personal listening. The download tasks of audio recordings of Pope Pius XII are allowed only for private use. Forbidden any other use or exploitation of the sound material in question.
Deep gratitude to the leaders of Radio, for their valuable assistance. The hope – and prayer – is that it will help the visitors of this website to pray with Pope Pius XII, in order to experiment with his comfort and intercession.
The early 1930s had been a time of great suffering for St Pio. In June 1931, an order had come from the Vatican that forbade him from saying Mass in public and from hearing confessions. Owing to the fact that the heart of Padre Pio’s ministry was spending as much as 14 hours in the confessional, it meant that Pio’s ministry was utterly restricted. He was like a child who was grounded for two years. From 1931 to 1933 is known as Pio’s ‘first persecution’, or drawing on incarceration metaphors, ‘the imprisonment’.
That said, May 2nd 1939 was an extremely important day in the life of Padre Pio – this summer day started a stage in his life that lasted over nine years.
Why was May 2nd 1939 such a critical day? For the precise reason that a new Pope was elected – Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli became Pope Pius XII – and his papacy lasted until 1959. Pope Pius XII’s time in the Chair of Peter is the exact same time frame that allowed Padre Pio’s good reputation to flourish. Instead of being distrusted by the Catholic hierarchy, they put enough confidence in him that he was allowed to go about his priestly duties in peace.
The key is that ‘the new Pope’, Pope Pius XII thought very highly of Padre Pio. Soon after he became the number one leader in the Church, he had commanded the Roman Cuia, “leave Padre Pio in peace”.
According to Renzo Allegri’s concise biography, Padre Pio: Man of Hope, Pope Pius XII once confided in a member of the press that ‘Padre Pio is a great saint, and it displeases us that we are not able to say so publicly’.
It is possible that Pope Pius XII passed on his affection for Padre Pio to his sister. The guest book at San Giovanni Rotondo was signed by Pope Pius XII’s sister, Maria Teresa Gerini.
If Pius XII had said that Padre Pio was a saint while he was alive – Padre Pio said that Pius XII was a saint after his death. On October 9th, 1959, Pope Pius XII passed away. Padre Pio was very upset at his passing.
After Pope Pius XII left this world, a nun, Sr Pascalina Lehnert wrote to San Giovanni Rotondo, wanting to know Padre Pio’s opinion of Pius XII. In response, Padre Pio’s face was transfigured into joy, and he and he answered, ‘he is in Paradise.’
When Padre Pio was asked to give more detail he said; ‘yes, I have seen him in Paradise’. Pio was saying that his own eyes had told him that Pius XII was a saint. The strict definition of a saint is a soul that has earned eternal reward in heaven.
In response to this entire chain of events, Father Agostino wrote in his Diary on November 18 th 1958: “Padre Pio was very sad for the death of Pope Pio XII. But Our Lord let him see the Pope in the glory of Paradise.”
If it takes one to know one, then in his lifetime Pius XII confided in a journalist that Pio was a saint. And after the death of Piux XII, Pio said that Pius XII had been admitted to paradise: the picture of the life of a saint.
Here the original article.
We publish below an excerpt from the long interview with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, published in La Vanguardia, on June 12. Among other things (here the full text in Spanish), the Pope reflected on the role of Pius XII during the Second World War.
«The opening of the Archives will bring a lot of light. On this theme, what worries me is the figure of Pius XII, the Pope who led the Church during the Second World War. Everything was pulled out on poor Pius XII. But we must remember that first he is seen as the great defender of Jews. He hid many in convents in Rome and in other Italian cities, as well as in the summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. There, in the Pope’s house, in his bedroom 42 children were born, the children of Jews and other persecuted refugees. I do not mean that Pius XII did not make mistakes – I too make so many – but his role is to be read in the context of that time. Was it better, for example, for him not to speak so that no more Jews would be killed most Jews, or should he have spoken? I also want to say that sometimes I am overcome by existential hives when I see everyone taking it out on the Church and Pius XII, and they forget the great powers. Do you know that they were perfectly aware of the Nazi railway network that transported Jews to the concentration camps? They had photos. But they did not bomb these railway lines. Why? It would be good to talk a bit about everything».
On the return journey from the Holy Land, May 26, 2014, the question of a English-speaking journalist allowed the Holy Father to talk about the beatification of the Venerable Pius XII. We report the passage (here, the transcript of the all interview, in italian), inviting readers to have recourse to the intercession of Pope Pacelli with greater faith, praying to get soon what the ordinary canonical procedures require for the successful outcome of the process.
«The Cause is open, I looked into it and no miracle has been found yet. So the process has stalled. We have to respect the reality of this Cause. But there’s no miracle and at least one is required for beatification. I can’t think of whether I will beatify him or not».
Here, a link to the page with the prayers to ask for favors and graces.