COMMENTARY: It’s time to open the wartime pope’s records

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(Date unknown) Pope Pius XII.  Religion News Service file photo

(Date unknown) Pope Pius XII. Religion News Service file photo

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(RNS) According to a British newspaper, Pope Francis wants to release the Pius XII papers for study before determining whether to consider his controversial predecessor for sainthood. It's time he did.

  • Larry

    I doubt there is much favorable to Pius XII in the records with regards to the Holocaust.

    If there was, there would have been a far greater desire to release them a long time ago. The only excuse the Vatican would have for waiting, if the records were favorable ,would have been based on Cold War politics. They would have been opened in the early 90’s if that was the case when the USSR fell.

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  • Larry

    That could get embarrassing. Especially since the last forced conversions to Catholicism occurred as late as 1944. The Catholic Church worked hand in hand with the genocidal Ustasha to murder or forcibly convert close to a million people.

  • Larry

    *The Ustasha were Croatian collaborators with the Nazis

  • Paul Frantizek

    I’m against an unlimited opening of the archives. First, the people who hate the Church are simply going to troll for the least complimentary pieces of information with no interest in pursuing the truth. Second, it sets a horrible precedent, implying that the Catholic Church has to somehow seek the approval or justification of the secular world. The latest hypocritical attack from the UN ought to demonstrate the pointlessness of that course.

  • Mack Hall, HSG

    Perhaps Mr. Rudin should open HIS vaults first, and let the world see all his bank accounts, transitions, diaries, letters, business affairs, associates, and so on.

    Or perhaps Mr. Rudin could read original sources from 1930 – 1960 and understand that the manufactured tension is because of Rolf Hochuth (I can never spell that name correctly) and a Soviet disinformation agenda.

  • John Price

    A serious issue for Pius XII and his advisors to consider would have been the backlash on Catholic clergy in Germany and occupied countries from the Nazis, had Pius publicly condemned the treatment of the Jews. As it was, many Catholic clergy were put in Nazi concentration camps and died there. Hundreds of Catholic priests were murdered in Spain at the hands of Fascists during that civil war, of which the Vatican was deeply aware. My understanding is that Pius XII did a great deal behind the scenes out of fear of Europe-wide elimination of his clergy. We forget how insanely vicious the Nazis were.

  • J. Bob

    A couple of things.

    The first is not to be hasty in judging people for actions in the past. We did not live in the times, & do not know all the circumstances. Remember, someday people of this generation will be judged by a future generation.

    Second, I remember a case in WWII, in Holland. Seems one of the Bishops spoke out against the Jewish incarcerations by the SS. The result was even more deportations, to the point where Jewish leaders told the religious leader to shut up.

    While the late Nelson Mandela lived to tell about his prison experience. in 1930’s Russia, he would most likely been shot in the Lubyanka basement.

  • When Pope Pius XII died Golda Meir said the world was “enriched” by this “great servant of peace”
    “Only the Catholic Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth” Albert Einstein
    “The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe” New York Times 1941
    New York Times on 3/14/40 wrote Pope Pius XII “came to the defense of Jews in Germany and Poland.”
    “Pope Condemns Dictators, Treaty Violators, Racism” Front Page New York Times 10/28/39

  • Paul Frantizek

    There’s also Mit brennender Sorge (With Burning Anxiety), the Encyclical Cardinal Pacelli drafted drafted for Pius XI, the strongest denunciation of the Nazis in the entire pre-war era.

    If anything the Vatican was ahead of the curve in recognizing the evil of the Nazis. They were certainly better than the parties of the Left, which only turned on Hitler after Barbarossa.

  • Larry

    Except that about 1/3rd of Germany and the majority of Occupied Western Europe was Catholic. Had the Pope offered any kind of open statements of resistance, it would have caused a lot of trouble for Hitler. The Nazi system depended on a wealth of collaborators and people who were indifferent to what they did. If the Catholic Church spoke out against the Holocaust, it would have made carrying it out more difficult.

    Hitler was not going to invade the Vatican (he wanted to, but his advisers poo poo’ed the idea). Many Catholic Clergy were already taking it upon themselves to resist the Nazis (Like future Pope Paul VI)

    In the Spanish Civil War, the Catholic Church was on the same side as the Fascists. The largest Nationalist Faction, the Carlists (Monarchists) was backed by the Church. They felt the Republicans were too far aligned with Communists and Anarchists (which was true). If anything, the bloody aftermath of the Spanish Civil War would have inspired isolationism for the Church. Previous intervention gone horribly wrong for people. Better not to get involved in worldly politics.

  • Teresa Vandal

    First off Larry, Pope Pius actually did do a lot for the Jews, as it was upon HIS ORDER that the monestaries and the convents were opened to house and hide the Jews from the Nazis, not to mention the fact that Adolf Eichman, one of Hitler’s favored officers, made statements upon his sentencing at his trial, that if Pius DID do more; he, himself would have been arrested and executed. Not to mention the fact that the LEADING RABBI of ROME during WWII, originally named Israel Zolli, (Zoller), later converted to Catholiscism in 1945, TAKING ON the birth name of His Holiness Pope Pius as his new name, Eugenio, AND devoted a whole chapter in his own book, “Before The Dawn” about WWII and his conversion to Catholiscism, to His Holiness Pius XII called “The Charity of Pope Pius XII”, and Golda Meir, the one time Prime Minister of Israel, she, herself spoke at the eulogy of Pope Pius XII…now tell me…if his actions really were so controversial…then how could those facts be true?