reply to post by fatdad
On June 16, 1942, Harold Tittmann, the U.S. representative to the Vatican, told Washington that Pacelli was diverting himself, ostrichlike, into
purely religious concerns and that the moral authority won for the papacy by Pius XI was being eroded. At the end of that month, the London Daily
Telegraph announced that more than a million Jews had been killed in Europe and that it was the aim of the Nazis "to wipe the race from the European
continent." The article was re-printed in The New York Times. On July 21 there was a protest rally on behalf of Europe's Jews in New York's Madison
Square Garden. In the following weeks the British, American, and Brazilian representatives to the Vatican tried to persuade Pacelli to speak out
against the Nazi atrocities. But still he said nothing. In September 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt sent his personal representative, the former
head of U.S. Steel, Myron Taylor, to plead with PaceIli to make a statement about the extermination of the Jews. Taylor traveled hazardously through
enemy territory to reach the Vatican. Still Pacelli refused to speak. Pacelli's excuse was that he must rise above the belligerent parties. As late
as December 18, Francis d'Arcy Osborne, Britain's envoy in the Vatican, handed Cardinal Domenico Tardini, Pacelli's deputy secretary of state, a
dossier replete with information on the Jewish deportations and mass killings in hopes that the Pope would denounce the Nazi regime in a Christmas
On December 24, 1942, having made draft after draft, Pacelli at last said something. In his Christmas Eve broadcast to the world on Vatican Radio, he
said that men of goodwill owed a vow to bring society "back to its immovable center of gravity in divine law." He went on: "Humanity owes this vow
to those hundreds of thousands who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality and race, are marked for death or
That was the strongest public denunciation of the Final Solution that Pacelli would make in the whole course of the war.
It was not merely a paltry statement. The chasm between the enormity of the liquidation of the Jewish people and this form of evasive language was
profoundly scandalous. He might have been referring to many categories of victims at the hands of various belligerents in the conflict. Clearly the
choice of ambiguous wording was intended to placate those who urged him to protest, while avoiding offense to the Nazi regime. But these
considerations are over-shadowed by the implicit denial and trivialization. He had scaled down the doomed millions to "hundreds of thousands"
without uttering the word "Jews," while making the pointed qualification "sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race." Nowhere was the
term "Nazi'' mentioned. Hitler himself could not have wished for a more convoluted and innocuous reaction from
the Vicar of Christ to the greatest crime in history.
But what was Pacelli's principal motivation for this trivialization and denial? The Allies' diplomats in the Vatican believed that he was remaining
impartial in order to earn a crucial role in future peace negotiations. In this there was clearly a degree of truth. But a recapitulation of new
evidence I have gathered shows that Pacelli saw the Jews as alien and undeserving of his respect and compassion. He felt no sense of moral outrage at
their plight. The documents show that:
1. He had nourished a striking antipathy toward the Jews as early as 1917 in Germany, which contradicts later claims that his omissions were performed
in good faith and that he "loved" the Jews and respected their religion.
2. From the end of the First World War to the lost encyclical of 1938, Pacelli betrayed a fear and contempt of Judaism based on his belief that the
Jews were behind the Bolshevik plot to destroy Christendom.
3. Pacelli acknowledged to representatives of the Third Reich that the regime's anti-Semitic policies were a matter of Germany's internal politics.
The Reich Concordat between Hitler and the Vatican, as Hitler was quick to grasp, created an ideal climate for Jewish persecution.
4. Pacelli failed to sanction protest by German Catholic bishops against anti-Semitism, and he did not attempt to intervene in the process by which
Catholic clergy collaborated in racial certification to identify Jews.
5. After Pius XI's Mit Brennender Sorge, denouncing the Nazi regime (although not by name), Pacelli attempted to mitigate the effect of the
encyclical by giving private diplomatic reassurances to Berlin despite his awareness of widespread Nazi persecution of Jews.
6. Pacelli was convinced that the Jews had brought misfortune on their own heads: intervention on their behalf could only draw the church into
alliances with forces inimical to Catholicism. Pacelli's failure to utter a candid word on the Final Solution proclaimed to the world that the Vicar
of Christ was not roused to pity or anger. From this point of view, he was the ideal Pope for Hitler's unspeakable plan. His denial and minimization
of the Holocaust were all the more scandalous in that they were uttered from a seemingly impartial moral high ground.
There was another, more immediate indication of Pacelli's moral dislocation. It occurred before the liberation of Rome, when he was the sole Italian
authority in the city. On October 16, 1943, SS troops entered the Roman ghetto area and rounded up more than 1,000 Jews, imprisoning them in the very
shadow of the Vatican.
How did Pacelli acquit himself'?
On the morning of the roundup, which had been prompted by AdoIf Eichmann, who was in charge of the organization of the Final Solution from his
headquarters in Berlin, the German ambassador in Rome pleaded with the Vatican to issue a public protest. By this stage of the war, Mussolini had been
deposed and rescued by AdoIf Hitler to run the puppet regime in the North of Italy. The German authorities in Rome, both diplomats and military
commanders, fearing a backlash of the Italian populace, hoped that an immediate and vigorous papal denunciation might stop the SS in their tracks and
prevent further arrests. Pacelli refused. In the end, the German diplomats drafted a letter of protest on the Pope's behalf and prevailed on a
resident German bishop to sign it for Berlin's benefit. Meanwhile, the deportation of the imprisoned Jews went ahead on October 18.
When U.S. chargé d 'affaires Harold Tittmann visited Pacelli that day, he found the pontiff anxious that the "Communist" Partisans would take
advantage of a cycle of papal protest, followed by SS reprisals, followed by a civilian backlash. As a consequence, he was not inclined to lift a
finger for the Jewish deportees, who were now traveling in cattle cars to the Austrian border bound for Auschwitz. Church officials reported on the
desperate plight of the deportees as they passed slowly through city after city. Still Pacelli refused to intervene.