Unsealed archives give new clues to Pope Pius XII’s response to the Holocaust


“You can’t post one scoop after another just because you’ve been at the library for a few days,” said Dr Napolitano, a delegate of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. “This is not the way to work. It is not a historical method.

Dr Kertzer only managed to work a few days in the archives when the coronavirus forced the Vatican to close its doors, but he continued to do research with Rome-based Church historian Roberto Benedetti.

The documents include pages that Dr. Kertzer described as “steeped in anti-Semitic language”.

In a document regarding the 1943 roundup, the Reverend Pietro Tacchi Venturi, a close advisor, proposed that Pius XII tell the Germans that it was not necessary to use violence against the Jews in Italy because the laws Mussolini’s racialism was “sufficient to contain the tiny Jewish minority within.” its own limits, ”wrote Father Tacchi Venturi. “We do not understand why and what need there is to return to a question that Mussolini’s government considered to have already been taken into account.”

Father Tacchi Venturi’s proposal was rejected by a memorandum, drafted by Reverend Angelo Dell’Acqua, then an official of the Secretariat of State who became the Cardinal of Rome, which sought to convince Pius XII not to lodge a protest formal. against the Nazi roundup, but instead to speak about it in private with the German ambassador “advising him not to further aggravate the already serious situation of the Jews”.

Cardinal Dell’Acqua was also involved in the high-profile case of the Finaly brothers.

The war had left many Jewish orphans in Catholic countries, and on at least two occasions Jewish leaders appealed to Pius XII for help to ensure they were returned to Jewish families. As a document released in 2004 shows, in some cases the Church’s policy has been to resist.

The Finaly boys had been secretly baptized, and the church in France had initially actively opposed attempts to return them to surviving parents, because the church believed they should be brought up in their new faith.


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