Pius XII's Efforts to Save Jewish Culture Revealed
Mobilized Church Leaders to Defend Synagogues
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NEW YORK, JULY 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The recently opened sections of the Vatican Secret Archives have revealed that Pope Pius XII not only helped save thousands of Jews, but also their patrimony, from the Nazis.
Pave the Way Foundation reported Tuesday that its researchers found documents of "great importance."
Michael Hesemann, a historian and foundation representative from Germany, has been researching documents in the Vatican archives and he found a letter sent by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who would later become Pius XII, on Nov. 30, 1938, only three weeks after the Kristallnacht.
In this letter, which was sent to the nunciatures and apostolic delegations as well as 61 bishops, the cardinal requested 200,000 visas for "non-Aryan Catholics." Just over a month later, on Jan. 9, 1939, he sent three additional letters.
Hesemann explained that this language, in which Cardinal Pacelli speaks about "converted Jews" and "non-Aryan Catholics," is most likely a cover to hide the real scheme from the Nazis.
At that time, under the concordat of 1933, Germany allowed the Holy See to aid those considered "non-Aryan Catholics."
The foundation added that Cardinal Pacelli specifically requested in his letter: "Care should be taken that sanctuaries are provided to safeguard their spiritual welfare and to protect their religious cult, customs and traditions."
The communiqué explained that this seems to refer to a group other than converted Jews, who, upon their baptisms, "just became normal Catholics" without any "sanctuaries, customs, or traditions on their own."
Furthermore, many of the bishops responded to the cardinal's request, and documents show that they referred to aiding the "persecuted Jews" rather than the "converted Jews" or "non-Aryan Catholics."
Matteo Luigi Napolitano, political science professor at the University of Urbino, Italy, told ZENIT that one of the Jan. 9, 1939, letters was even more explicit.
It too was sent to over 60 prelates, and the instructions, written in Latin, "leave no room for doubt about the intentions of the Holy See and about Eugenio Pacelli's thoughts," the scholar said.
The letter, he reported, reads, "Do not engage in saving only Jewish people but also synagogues, cultural centers and everything that pertains to their faith: the Torah scrolls, libraries, cultural centers, etc.)."
The foundation explained that this point is important, because many historians have only acknowledged the efforts of Pius XII to save converted Jews, but the evidence seems to paint a different picture.
It continued: "Since many of the critics of this papacy have not yet accepted the proven Nazi threat against the Vatican State and the life of Pope Pius XII directly, they seem not to understand that there was a need for deception sending only encrypted or verbal directives.
"In many cases the historians are ignorant of the unique Vatican language sometimes using ancient Latin to express the hidden meaning of these requests."
It added that "the terms non-Aryan Catholics, non-Aryans, and Catholic Jews all indeed meant Jews," thus coded so that "if documents were intercepted, this deception would not raise a red flag since the concordat signed in 1933 specifically provided protection for Jews who converted to Christianity."
The foundation's president, Gary Krupp, underlined the mission "to identify and eliminate non-theological obstacles between religions," such as the discrepancies regarding the World War II papacy of Pius XII.
In this light, he said, the foundation undertook a "document retrieval project of the war time era to publicly post as many documents and eye witness testimonies as possible to bring the truth to light."
Elliot Hershberg, the foundation's chairman, stated that the organization "will continue to reveal as many documents as possible since everything we have found thus far seems to indicate the known negative perception of Pope Pius XII is wrong."
The foundation has over 40,000 pages of documents on its Web site, along with eyewitness videos available for public perusal.
Hershberg affirmed, "We also 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."
Ronald Rychlak, author of "Hitler, the War and the Pope," acknowledged that this discovery by the foundation is "another confirmation" of the "good works of Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church."
He stated, "The important aspect of this document is that it shows what many of us have been saying all along: Efforts that appear to have been directed to protect only converted Jews actually protected Jews regardless of whether they had converted."
[With the contribution of Jesús Colina]
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On the Net:
Pave the Way Foundation: http://www.ptwf.org