Documents: Pius XII Favored a Jewish Homeland in Palestine

Foundation Continues to Unearth Testimony That Pius Was in No Way 'Hitler's Pope'

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NEW YORK, MARCH 8, 2012 (Zenit.org).- An organization researching the history of Pius XII's relationship with the Jews says that a series of documents recently uncovered show a pattern of direct actions by Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope) that culminated in the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

The New York-based Pave the Way Foundation explained that in 1917, Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli met with Nahum Sokolow, president of the World Zionist organization and arranged for Sokolow to meet with Pope Benedict XV to discuss a Jewish Homeland. In a passionate report, Sokolow wrote of his audience on May 12, 1917:

“I was first of all received by Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli, Secretary for Extraordinary Affairs, and had a few days later a long conference with Cardinal Secretary of State Gasparri. Both meetings were extraordinarily friendly and positive. I don’t tend towards credulity or exaggerations and still I can’t avoid to stress that this revealed an extraordinary amount of friendship: to grant a Jew and representative of Zionism with such a promptness a private audience which took so long and was of such a warmth and took place with all assurance of sympathy, both for the Jews in general and for Zionism in special, proves that we don’t need to expect any obstacles which can’t be overcome from the side of the Vatican. The Pope asked me, ‘Pacelli told me about your mission; do you want to tell me any more details?’" (File A 18/25 in the Main Archive of Yad Vashem)

A statement from Pave the Way further noted: On November 15, 1917, Nuncio Pacelli acted on a urgent request for his intervention from the Jewish community of Switzerland from what was feared would be an Ottoman Massacre of Jews of Palestine. Pacelli asked the German government, who was allied with the Ottoman Turks, for protection for the Jews of Palestine. Pacelli was successful in gaining promised protection of the Jews from the German government “even with the use of arms.”

Pacelli met with Sokolow again on Feb. 15, 1925, and arranged another meeting with Cardinal Pietro Gasparri on the subject of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In 1926, Pacelli urged all Catholics to join the pro-Palestine movement in Germany with such notable members as Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Konrad Adenauer, and Fr. Ludwig Kaas.

PTWF learned of the existence of one very interesting document, still unpublished, which may show Pius XII’s attitude about a Jewish homeland. In 1944, Pius XII opposed the general feeling of his Secretary of State, when he responded to Monsignor Domenico Tardini’s written warning against helping the Jews establish a homeland. Pius XII wrote by hand, “The Jews need a land of their own.” This document is in the closed section of the Vatican Library and will not be available until the archives are fully open.

The foundation explained that researchers have also uncovered the 1946 speech Pius XII delivered to a delegation of Arabs who came to Rome to dissuade the Pope from endorsing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Pius XII ended the meeting leaving the Arab delegation greatly disappointed by clearly stating, “As we also condemn several times in the past, the persecution that fanatical anti-Semitism unleashed against the Jewish people.”

According to research by the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, it was Pius XII who “paved the way” for the Catholic Countries members of the United Nations to positively vote in favor of the partitioning of Palestine in November 1947. We have uncovered news articles about the Vatican encouraging Spain to recognize the Jewish state in 1955.

Elliot Hershberg, Director of the Pave the Way Foundation, said “our research has shown that Pope Pius XII’s positive relationship with the Jewish people began in Pacelli’s youth with his close childhood friend, an Orthodox Jewish boy named Guido Mendes. Pacelli would share in Shabbat meals, he learned to read Hebrew and borrow the books of the great rabbinic scholars. The documents we have uncovered reveal Pacelli’s numerous interventions to save Jewish lives and protect Jewish traditions. This evidence repudiates the allegations that Pacelli was in any way anti-Semitic, which has been stated as fact by some historians.”

Gary Krupp, President of Pave the Way stated, “it has been the goal of Pave the Way Foundation to use our international relationships to identify and make available, every document we can locate to post on-line and make this information available to scholars worldwide, whether the message is positive or negative. To date we have posted online over 46,000 pages of research material, along with multiple eyewitness video interviews. In accordance with our mission, we are trying to resolve this 47-year-old obstacle between Jews and Catholics.”

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On the Net:

Pave the Way Foundation: www.ptwf.org.