Historian uncovers new evidence Pius XII strongly opposed Nazis

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PIUSXII-NAZIS Aug-21-2003 Historian uncovers new evidence Pius XII strongly opposed Nazis

By Jerry Filteau Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Newly uncovered documents from the archives of two U.S. diplomats provide some of the strongest evidence yet of Pope Pius XII's vigorous opposition to Nazism, said historian Charles R. Gallagher in the Sept. 1 issue of America, a New York-based national Catholic magazine.

In high-level diplomatic meetings as Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli -- the future Pope Pius XII -- severely criticized Nazism as pagan and anti-religious, he wrote.

Cardinal Pacelli himself called compromise with Hitler's regime "out of the question," Gallagher wrote.

One diplomatic report he found said the cardinal regarded Adolf Hitler "not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel but as a fundamentally wicked person" -- a characterization Gallagher described as "an extraordinary moral condemnation" of the German dictator by the future pope.

A Jesuit scholastic currently studying at St. Louis University, Gallagher earned a doctorate in American history and taught before joining the Jesuits. He is currently writing a biography of Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley, an American who was in Vatican diplomatic service under Pope Pius XII.

In a telephone interview with Catholic News Service, Gallagher said the clear anti-Nazi and anti-Hitler views of Cardinal Pacelli in the documents he has uncovered contrast sharply with the attempts of some recent historians to portray the World War II pope "as a Nazi sympathizer." Among the more notable such books recently was John Cornwell's "Hitler's Pope."

In the America article, Gallagher focused on two diplomatic documents in particular -- a personal report by Cardinal Pacelli that he gave to Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, then U.S. ambassador to Britain, during an April 1938 meeting in Rome, and a 1939 report by Alfred W. Klieforth, then U.S. consul general in Cologne, Germany, following a three-hour meeting with the cardinal in Rome to discuss "the situation in Germany." Cardinal Pacelli was elected pope in March 1939.

Gallagher quoted from Klieforth's report: "He (Cardinal Pacelli) opposed unilaterally every compromise with National Socialism. He regarded Hitler not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel but as a fundamentally wicked person. He did not believe Hitler capable of moderation, in spite of appearances, and he fully supported the German bishops in their anti-Nazi stand."

Klieforth, Gallagher told CNS, was a Catholic and had been U.S. consul general in Berlin in the 1920s when then-Archbishop Pacelli was in Berlin as papal nuncio.

He said he found the Klieforth report this summer at Harvard University, in the private archives of Jay Pierrepont Moffat, who headed the U.S. State Department's European division before the war.

He said the diplomatic papers of Ambassador Kennedy, father of President John F. Kennedy, are housed in the JFK presidential library in Boston and were just recently made available for research.

Gallagher wrote that the Pacelli report to Kennedy invited the ambassador to pass "these personal private views of mine on to your Friend" -- a reference Gallagher called "a cryptic yet clear allusion to President Franklin D. Roosevelt," whom Cardinal Pacelli had met during an extensive U.S. visit 18 months earlier.

"In his report," Gallagher said, "Pacelli made clear that the Nazi program struck at the 'fundamental principle of the freedom of the practice of religion,' and indicated the emergence of a new Nazi 'Kulturkampf' (culture war) against the church."

He added, "Sounding beleaguered and perhaps a bit frightened, Pacelli expressed the view that the church 'at times felt powerless and isolated in its daily struggle against all sort of political excesses from the Bolsheviks to the new pagans arising among the young "Aryan" generations.' Nevertheless he assured Kennedy that any political compromise with the Nazi regime was 'out of the question.'"

For 65 years, until the recent limited opening of the Kennedy files for scholarly study, this report by the future Pope Pius XII "had been viewed only by three people" -- Kennedy, Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Gallagher wrote.

He also cited a later report from Kennedy to the State Department, regarding his series of meetings with Pope Pius immediately after the pope's coronation in 1939. He said Kennedy reported that the new pope held a "subconscious prejudice that has arisen from his belief that Nazism and Fascism are pro-pagan, and as pro-pagan, they strike at the roots of religion."

The reports show that "Pacelli employed private diplomacy to make clear to the Allied leadership his intense disdain of the Nazis" even though "both Kennedy and the new pope deemed it prudent to keep such sentiments out of the public sphere," Gallagher wrote.

He suggested that much of the controversy in recent decades over Pope Pius' so-called silence -- critics argue he should have forcefully denounced Nazi atrocities in public, especially Hitler's extermination campaign against the Jewish people -- stems from a misunderstanding of the "old world" rules of diplomacy in which Pope Pius was thoroughly trained.

Under those rules, he said, "secrecy in negotiations was paramount, finalized treaties were inviolable and rules of formality reigned supreme. In cases of import, governments and their heads of state were addressed almost exclusively behind closed doors."

Normally the Kennedy library only allows scholars to review the ambassador's documents after a written request and prior clearance from a screening committee established by the donors. But after media requests in light of Gallagher's article, the library made copies of Cardinal Pacelli's four-page 1938 report to Kennedy available to reporters who requested it.

The report, written the month after Hitler invaded Austria, takes pains to emphasize that an early statement by the Austrian hierarchy welcoming the new government "was evidently the result of some compulsory influences" and that the Vatican "neither previously nor afterwards" approved it.

Cardinal Pacelli wrote that the Holy See would always be willing "to deal fairly with any political authority whatsoever," but added that it couldn't do so without "at least the beginning of the evidence of good faith on the other side: evidence that so far has been completely lacking in this instance" of Hitler's regime.

Cardinal Pacelli attached an English translation of a subsequent retraction by Austrian Cardinal Theodor Innitzer -- a retraction given after the cardinal was called down to Rome for meetings with Cardinal Pacelli and Pope Pius XI.

Gallagher said his interest in Joseph Kennedy's archives was piqued by a memo in the Roosevelt archives saying the president had put Kennedy's 1939 report on his meetings with the newly crowned pope into his safe, but the document the memo referred to could not be found in the Roosevelt archives.


-- Bill Nelson (bnelson45@hotmail.com), August 22, 2003


This is wonderful news, Bill. Thanks very much.

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), August 24, 2003.

I would hardly call the Catholic News Service an objective source on this topic. Hmmm...a shocking revalation that absolves the Pope of any wrongdoing...and it come from the Catholic News Service! How convenient!

-- Anti-bush (Comrade_bleh@hotmail.com), September 28, 2003.

You never do think before you write, do you, "anti-Bush/pro-Idiocy"?

If you had stopped to think, you would have realized that the Church (or CNS) would not be making a false claim, because the documents will be subject to scrutiny by experts. Under the circumstances, no faking would be possible. Besides, through the years, I have found CNS to be less than 100% behind the Vatican (some of their writers being dissenters, I suspect) -- so it would not be like them to show a pro-Pius-XII bias.

May God bless you and all other anti-Catholic bigots with at least a smidgen of wisdom.

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@Hotmail.com), September 29, 2003.

Unless there are no documents! It's just some crap they made up to make people like YOU think that your Pope wasn't in line with a guy who killed nine million people. It's all a scam to make Catholics feel better about the establishment of the Church.

-- Anti-bush (Comrade_bleh@hotmail.com), November 01, 2003.

And I'm not an "anti-Catholic bigot". First of all, I'm not anti- Catholic. I'm against the establishment of the Church, not Catholics in general. I've got a number of close friends who are Catholic, and I'm a better peson for knowing them. I can say the same about my Protestant friends, my Muslim friends, ect. And I'm not a bigot. A bigot is someone who judges people based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation. I don't judge Catholics based on their religion. Like I said before, I've got a lot of Catholic friends.

-- Anti-bush (Comrade_bleh@hotmail.com), November 01, 2003.

Like it or not, you are an anti-Catholic bigot. You are a fallen away Catholic, a hater of the pope, and a potty-mouth to boot. You are desperate to try to justify the unjustifiable actions of your life -- your heresy, promotion of sodomy, etc., -- which your guilty conscience eats away at you inside. Please just get the hell out of here and leave this CATHOLIC forum alone. You are TOTALLY USELESS here. I'd sooner have a cobra climbing up my leg than have a soul-dead nitwit like you mucking up the works at this forum. Come back after you repent.

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), November 02, 2003.

Oops! Did I hit a nerve? Sounds like Mr. Gecik needs his coffee!

-- Anti-bush (Comrade_bleh@hotmail.com), November 15, 2003.

Here is the latest beautiful information about Pope Pius XII that has been found in the newly opened Vatican archives.

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), November 16, 2003.

Well THAT'S convenient! Evidence that vindicates the Pope comes from the Vatican!

-- Anti-bush (Comrade_bleh@hotmail.com), November 27, 2003.

And who would be in a better position to know, and to have the appropriate documents available? Do you accept findings about American history from American historians, or only from foreign ones?

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), November 27, 2003.

Who would have a bigger motive to lie?

I am skeptical about everythintg I read about the American history that comes from the government. You should see the history textbooks they give us. Bursing at the seams with lies and half-truths.

-- Anti-bush (Comrade_bleh@hotmail.com), November 28, 2003.

Anti --Lies and you are old friends. If you don't think the Vatican ought to defend itself from lies it's because you simply need the lies; you love them.

No one expects you to understand. Because you have no use for the truth; not if God himself reveals it to you. (You would say of Him: ''Who has more reason to LIE to me? He wants me in hell!''--) Lol!

-- eugene c. chavez (loschavez@pacbell.net), November 29, 2003.

i forget the story, but i do at least remember the motto...

"enlightenment can only occur when we have released everything, doubts included. only then can true vision occur"

for you anti-bush, who doubts everything.

-- paul h (dontSendMeMail@notAnAddress.com), November 29, 2003.

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