Italian historian claims wartime Pope was more concerned about Communism than Holocaust

February 2nd, 2010 - 1:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Rome (Italy), Feb.2 (ANI): An Italian historian has claimed that there is substantial evidence to support Jewish allegations that wartime Pope Pius XII failed to raise his voice against the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi regime because he was more concerned about Communism.

Basing his argument on documents found in the National Archives at Kew, Giuseppe Casarrubea, the author of a series of books on fascism and the Mafia, said that in a telegram dated November 10, 1944, to Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, Francis D’Arcy Osborne, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, reported that he had asked Pius XII if he would support a protest against the murder of more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews. The Pope had replied that he had not yet decided, but that in any case even if he did condemn the atrocity he would do so anonymously, Osborne said.

In another telegram a year earlier, dated October 19, 1943, Harold Tittmann, the US Ambassador to the Holy See, reported to Washington that Pius XII had appeared indifferent to the fate of more than a thousand Jews rounded up in the Rome ghetto and sent by train to Auschwitz. According to The Times, instead of showing “indignation” over the deportations, Pius XII had shown more concern over reports of “communist gangs roaming in the environs of Rome”.

The Pope had added that the German occupying forces in Rome had “always shown great respect for the Holy See”, Ambassador Tittmann wrote.

Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a former Vatican Foreign Minister who as a young priest served in Pius’s private office, said that the Pope had believed it would be “counterproductive” to speak out in public against Nazi atrocities.

He felt it would make matters worse both for Jews and Roman Catholics, as had been the case in the Netherlands in 1942 when a protest by Dutch bishops against the treatment of Jews led to greater persecution.

Instead Pius XII had worked behind the scenes to ensure that Jews were given refuge in Catholic institutions, Cardinal Silvestrini told La Stampa.

He said that published extracts from Osborne’s diaries showed Pius XII had even acted as mediator between the Allies and German officers planning to oust Hitler, twice summoning Osborne to inform him of the plot.

In an address at the Rome synagogue last month Pope Benedict said that many Italian Catholics and the Vatican itself had saved Jews “in a hidden and discreet way”.

However, Riccardo Pacifici, President of the Jewish Community in Rome, whose grandparents died at Auschwitz, told the Pope that although Pius XII “perhaps could not have stopped the trains of death, he could have sent a signal, a word of extreme comfort, of human solidarity for those of our brothers who were sent to the ovens of Auschwitz.”

Jewish groups have urged the Vatican to open its archives on Pius XII for study to settle the issue. (ANI)

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