Italian Newspaper Misleading in Accusing Church of Complicity With Nazism

ZENIT Verifies Misrepresentation Published by the Press

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ROME, MARCH 23, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The accusation reported by Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" that a Jesuit priest accused future Pope Pius XII of collaboration with the Nazi regime is false.



The Italian newspaper had published an article entitled "Pacelli Sapeva" (Pacelli Knew) this year on Feb. 20, accusing Eugenio Pacelli, future Pope Pius XII, and the Catholic Church of complicity with the Nazi regime. The article was quoted subsequently by agencies and newspapers of other countries.

To support the accusation, the newspaper published a letter written presumably by Jesuit priest, Father Friederich Muckermann, which seemed to denounce the weakness of the Church of Rome in face of the Hitler regime.

The article stated that the letter was found in the Vatican Secret Archives by an anonymous researcher.

ZENIT carried out its own research, and has verified that the article in question has many mistakes and that the letter attributed to Father Muckermann was falsified in the translation.

According to "La Repubblica," the priest was the leader of a resistance movement called "Die deutsche Weg," which never existed, though the name was later the title of a minor review published by the priest after he left Germany.

The author of the article in the Italian newspaper said that Father Muckermann was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Dachau concentration camp where, presumably, he died. On the contrary, Father Muckermann was not arrested, nor was he sent to a concentration camp. He died on April 2, 1946 in Montreux, Switzerland.

He did send a letter dated Nov. 15, 1934, to Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, then Secretary of Vatican State, but the Italian newspaper published a biased and manipulated version of it.

The text that the anonymous researcher gave to "La Repubblica," which the newspaper published in its Italian translation, has 552 words. Father Muckermann's note, which is in the Vatican Secret Archives, has 1,552 words.

Hence, the "concise note" published by "La Repubblica" represents little more than one third of the Jesuit's original text.

A careful comparison of both texts -- the abbreviated version published by "La Repubblica" and the original found in the Vatican Secret Archive -- leads to the following conclusion:

-- The article in "La Repubblica" does not state in its text what parts of the original text were omitted.

-- The parts voluntarily omitted are the essential parts of Father Muckermann's note. For example, an important phrase written by the priest: "The whole world knows that the German Bishops have done much" against Hitler, is not quoted.

-- Moreover, in the abbreviated text, the meaning of a significant phrase regarding the conduct of the Catholic Church was totally modified. The Italian translation published by "La Repubblica" says: "The reproach made to the Bishops is justly extended to Rome," while the German original says: "The reproach made to the Bishops is frequently extended unjustly to Rome."