New evidence is emerging in the bitter controversy over the alleged “silence” of Pope Pius XII, the Pope from 1939 to 1958 (photo) during the Nazi persecution of the Jews (1933-1945). The evidence was examined two weeks ago (March 8 and 9) in Israel at Yad Vashem — the official Israeli memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Here is the first comprehensive report in English on what happened at that meeting, and what it means for the future.
The comprehensive report below contains these elements: 1) A general introduction; 2) a translation from the Italian of a report by Italian Pius XII biographer Andrea Tornielli, an old friend of Inside the Vatican, who was present at the recent Yad Vashem meeting; 3) An introduction to a number of Pius XII testimonials; 4) the testimonials themselves.
We believe that this material, taken together, creates a strong case in favor of the course taken by Pius XII during the period of the Nazi regime, and that it reveals how the debate is shifting in his favor, in spite of considerable ongoing resistance from his detractors, who increasingly seem unwilling to allow such persuasive evidence to affect their long-held negative judgments.
We present this material in the hope of reaching greater clarity about the truth of what happened during those years (1933-45), in the conviction that the case made by the detractors of Pope Pius is based on untrue propaganda, and that this has been harmful, not only to the good name of Pope Pius, and so also of the Catholic Church, but also to Catholic-Jewish relations in general.
Since Pope Benedict XVI will be traveling to the Holy Land from May 8 to 15, and intends to visit the Yad Vashem museum, but not to enter because of the negative portrayal there of Pope Pius XII we offer this material now in the hope that, even at this late date, changes can be made which would enable the Pope to visit this special place of commemoration without any shadow of controversy regarding the actions of his predecessor, Pope Pius XII. —The Editor
The Yad Vashem – Pius XII Discussions
By Inside the Vatican Staff
The news that Yad Yashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, recently began serious discussions that might lead to revision of its exhibit against Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII), was cautiously welcomed by Pius’ defenders, and those involved in interfaith affairs.
Yad Vashem’s notorious exhibit, erected in 2005, has provoked strong protests from many Catholics and others from around the world. The exhibit claims that Pius was silent and indifferent toward the evils of Nazism, and did nothing to assist persecuted Jews during the Holocaust.
This offends both historical truth and Catholicism. It contradicts the best historical scholarship and the effusive praise Pius XII received from the Jewish community and Jewish scholars. It also attacks the person and the institution credited with doing more to save Jewish victims of Hitler than any other single individual or institution.
Yad Vashem can do this only by misinterpreting or ignoring a wide range of witnesses and documents.
From 1965-1981, the Vatican published twelve volumes of primary wartime documents establishing essential facts about the actions of the wartime papacy: each volume runs hundreds of pages; and there is ample source material highlighting the Holy See’s humanitarian acts, including those on behalf of persecuted Jews. Alas, these have been perversely interpreted, if not largely unread, by those who have a fixed bias against Pius XII.
More recently released archives, from the pontificate of Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), under whom Cardinal Pacelli served before becoming Pope, have only added to Pius XII’s reputation. But they, too, have been largely ignored or “re-interpreted” to fit pre-existing prejudices.
Fortunately the groundswell of support for Pius XII and increasing criticisms of Yad Vashem for its inaccurate exhibit, has caused the Museum to re-think its stand. Evidence of this was a wide-ranging discussion, organized by the Museum, about Pope Pius XII, which took place on March 8th and 9th in Jerusalem.
However, on March 11, a major Catholic news service published a misleading report (out of Jerusalem) on the meeting, concentrating only on one contentious critic of Pius: Michael Phayer, professor emeritus at Marquette University. Regrettably, the supportive positions of more balanced participants, like Italian expert Andrea Tornielli, author of the finest biography of Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII: A Man on the Throne of Peter, not yet translated from Italian), were not presented.
Fortunately, on March 14, the Italian newspaper Il Giornale published Tornielli’s own account of the Yad Vashem meeting. He described it as positive but challenging, because the assumptions of some of those present (like Phayer) needed to be more carefully questioned.
It turned out, not unexpectedly, that some still held the discredited theory Pius did not directly instruct Catholics to rescue and protect Jews. The evidence that Pius instructed the faithful to help Jews is now overwhelming — and incontestable. That any reputable historian would question or deny this, at this late stage, is difficult to believe.
Even more astonishing is Sergio Minerbi’s contention, drawn from a totally unreliable source, that Pius XII actually collaborated with the Germans during the Nazi round-up of Rome’s Jews — a claim emphatically disproved by Volume 9 of the Holy See’s wartime documents. It is difficult to understand how any historian could have read and understood those basic documents, and still denied the Pope’s actions on behalf of Jews.
In order to provide a more accurate account of what took place at the Yad Vashem meeting, Inside the Vatican publishes its own translation of Tornielli’s description of the event.
The Yad Vashem Conference on Pope Pius XII
by Andrea Tornielli (translated from his article in Il Giornale, March 14, 2009)
A closed-door exchange of views took place Sunday and Monday, March 8 and 9, in Jerusalem involving historians with widely differing views on how to understand Pope Pius XII’s response to the Holocaust.
It was described as the first of several meetings and was organized jointly by Yad Vashem and the Salesian Order’s theological study group of Jerusalem (Studium Theologicum Salesianum).
The purpose of the opening meeting was to explore the current state of scholarly research on the wartime pontiff’s responses to the Holocaust, and on his overall regard for the Jewish people.
The setting of the gathering was deeply symbolic and emotional, taking place in a conference room only a few feet from the Hall of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. That hall commemorates non-Jews who risked their own lives to aid Jews being persecuted.
Also in the background of this meeting is the Yad Vashem Museum’s controversial display of a large photo of Pius XII, with a caption claiming that the pontiff failed to protest, in any way, against the massacre being perpetrated against the Jewish people; and did little or nothing to help them. The photo-caption was not directly addressed at the meeting. The historians engaged in a polite, uninhibited and wide-ranging discussion that touched on a number of complex circumstances existing at the time, including various private and public statements and actions by and about Pius XII.
Among the scholars invited by the Salesian Fathers to present analyses of their findings on Pope Pacelli were: Professors Thomas Brechenmacher, Jean-Dominique Durand, Sr. Grazia Loparco, Matteo Luigi Napolitano and the author of this report [Andrea Tornielli]. The Vatican’s nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, was also present.
Those invited by Yad Vashem to offer assessments were: Sergio Minerbi, Michael Phayer, Paul O’Shea and Susan Zuccotti. Also taking part were Yad Vashem officials.
The director of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, opened the meeting by saying that this exchange “will not be the last,” adding, “research is progressing on the complex and delicate role of Pius XII.”
Nuncio Franco said that the conference was designed for a frank and honest exchange, to promote “a dialogue based on trust” because “all of us are seeking the truth.”
He compared a missing key document on the Holocaust with the absence of any explicit orders from Pius to religious to help Jews. Franco said: though no document exists written by Hitler that orders the terrible “Final Solution” against the Jews, no one doubts that it was the Fuehrer himself who planned the genocide. “We would like the same criteria applied to the Catholic Church and the Vatican in light of the absence of a direct written order from the pope commanding the faithful to help Jews,” Franco said.
The Church “does not count only documents, it also counts the reality of historical facts,” he continued. And the facts do not support the thesis that Pius was “silent” or disinterested. He added that those who make such a charge about Pius are using a methodology of historical research that ignores massive amounts of contrary evidence. Such an approach, he said, has for some time been abandoned by professional historians.
This first session dealt with questions about Pacelli’s personality, particularly as revealed in his public and his private statements and attitudes before and during his pontificate. What did these reveal about his regard for Jews? Were there any significant differences in his attitude? What role might these have had in influencing his actions during the War?
Among the points made was that when the future Pius XII went to public school as a teenager, he developed a close friendship with a Jewish classmate, Guido Mendes, whom he helped to leave Italy after the promulgation of Mussolini’s shameful racial laws.
Documents were produced from both Zionist archives and the Bavarian nunciature. From Pacelli’s November 1917 Bavarian nunciature came an intervention from Pacelli appealing for assistance for the Jewish population of Jerusalem. As a priest, diplomat, cardinal and as Pope, Pacelli never nourished or expressed any adverse sentiments against the Jews. Just the opposite, he expressed deep regard and sympathy for them.
Professor Durand provided in-depth insights on the attitude of Pacelli toward Nazism by citing the reports of the then-nuncio in Germany to his superiors in Rome. These reports show unequivocally how he had explicitly warned about Hitler. Long before almost any one else was aware of the menace of Nazism, he was defining Nazism as “the greatest heresy” of our time.
His private letters to his family and friends attest the same thing.
There was also a good deal of discussion about the Concordat of 1933 between the Holy See and Germany, with Phayer repeatedly emphasizing that the attitude of Pacelli was conditioned by his anti-Communism. It was pointed out, however, that it is incorrect to represent the Concordat, which was concluded after the four-powers pact of June 1933, between France, England, Italy and Germany, as in any way a “recognition” of the Nazi regime. The Vatican, as a matter of fact, had also sought to reach a Concordat with the Soviet Union [in the 1920’s, even before the German Concordat]. Pius XI accepted the offer of Hitler in an effort try to defend the Church in Germany, well aware that the accord would be immediately violated, as it came to be. This resulted, over the years, in 70 official protests by the Holy See to the Foreign Ministry of the Reich, which for the most part were never answered.
The central and most debated issue of the conference was the Nazi roundup of Rome’s Jews, in late 1943. What did the Pope know? Did he personally order the rule of the cloister be lifted and the Jews allowed refuge? Or, did all of that somehow occur spontaneously, without him knowing, and personally authorizing it?
A carefully documented and exhaustive contribution by Sister Grazia Loparco, who is carrying out an intensive study of the question, shows that more than 4,500 Jews were saved in Italy. In Rome alone, 750 religious houses, 220 convents and at least 70 monasteries opened their doors to Jews. This is a statistic that shows the existence of a comprehensive policy, and a network of helpers.
And, if it is certain that no copy of a signed order from Pius XII exists, it is equally true that in the autumn of 1943, with the Germans tightly controlling Rome, many orders were successfully transmitted by word of mouth, thanks to the close relations and contacts existing in the city among religious, priests, prelates, lay leaders and the Holy See. [For documentation of a recently discovered wartime convent diary, providing yet more evidence that Pius XII issued explicit orders to rescue Jews, see ITV’s March 11th newsflash, “Turning Point on Pius XII.” In the archives of Civilta Cattolica, for example, there is a document from November 1, 1943, in which Father Giacomo Martegani, then editor of the magazine, after leaving an audience with Pope Pacelli, noted: “The Holy Father has involved himself (or committed himself) to the welfare of the Jews.” [“Il Santo Padre’s e interessato al bene degli ebrei”]
Still, Professors Minerbi and Zuccotti argued these undeniable and documented life-saving initiatives of the convents were spontaneous, that is, took place without the Pope’s orders. However, Father Roberto Spataro, of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum, noted that anyone with firsthand knowledge of how the Vatican works knows that even while there may have been differing positions within the Vatican itself on the question of what to do on behalf of the Jews, no such large-scale activity (as hiding thousands of Jews in Vatican buildings, many of which were cloistered) could have been possible without the blessing of Pius XII himself.
It must also be said that the most shocking, weakly supported and, frankly, unrealistic hypothesis, was the one presented by Minerbi, based on anonymous testimony attributed to an unidentified German official. This unsupported rumor had already been refuted in a collection of documents relating to the Second World War published decades ago [Volume 9, document 383, p. 519, of Actes et Documents]. The groundless rumor claimed that Pius had given his personal “green light” to the deportation of the Roman Jews provided the Germans agreed to carry it out quickly. This allegation runs counter to all the evidence we have about Pope Pacelli, and clearly seeks to present him as a willing and convinced accomplice in the Nazi slaughter!
The Yad Vashem conference represents only the first step in a journey that has just begun: we await the publication of the first meeting and of the various documents presented. The atmosphere was cordial and collaborative, despite the diverging opinions. The meeting offers hope for a different understanding of the figure of Pacelli that will put an end to the “black legend.”
A PRIMER FOR UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT PIUS XII DEBATE
The half-century campaign against Pope Pius XII entered a new phase this month with scholarly meetings in Jerusalem. Whether this will end up in spreading more half-truths against Pius, or will actually be a full and fair presentation of the well-documented evidence we have on Pius, is still an open question.
As a necessary background for understanding what is now on-going, Inside the Vatican presents, below, several representative pieces of evidence that offer examples of the kind of clear knowledge now available to scholars concerning Eugenio Pacellis character, conduct and moral leadership. These documents set before the reader a cross-section of basic facts concerning Pacelli’s life and leadership of the Church–particularly as they relate to his fight against Nazism, and his efforts to assist Jews persecuted by Hitler and his collaboraters.
Pacelli served as papal nuncio to Germany (1917-1929), Cardinal Secretary of State under Pius XI (1930-1939), and as Pope Pius XII (1939-1958). There are hundreds of pieces of primary and secondary evidence now available that show how he combatted racism and anti-Semitism, in the face of a psychopathic, all-powerful dictator determined to destroy those conceived as his enemies.
The first two articles presented here appeared in prominent Jewish newspapers, between Pius XII’s death (1958), and shortly after the attack on him by playwright Rolf Hochhuth (1963).
They report on Pacelli’s concern for the Jewish community, before and after the War. Particularly revealing is his little-known friendship with a childhood schoolmate, Guido Mendes. Mendes recalls the remarkable openness the future pope revealed toward the Jewish people and religion — at a time when Catholics and Jews were mostly strangers to one another. Mendes testifies that Pacelli, as Cardinal Secretary of State under Pius XI, helped him and his family escape persecution by Italian Fascists. Notably, Mendes leaped to defend Pius’ good name after Rolf Hochhuth attacked the pope, five years after his death, as a weak, time-serving churchman in a completely misleading, play, The Deputy (a.k.a., “The Representative”).
Then we present the dramatic testimony of Dietrich von Hildebrand, an eminent Catholic philosopher, who had been marked for death by Hitler because of his outspoken opposition to anti-Semitism and Nazism, and who knew Pacelli when he served as papal nuncio in Germany. (For more on von Hildebrand’s struggle against Nazism, and his admiration for Pacelli, see The Soul of a Lion [Ignatius Press, 2000] by his wife, Alice von Hildebrand.) Von Hildebrand’s testimony is striking, since he often criticized fellow Catholics whom he thought “soft” toward anti-Semitism and Nazism.
Following von Hildebrand’s tribute are contemporary newspaper accounts that establish how the Church, under Pius XII, did indeed “speak out” against anti-Semitism and Hitler’s policies–and how this fact was clearly understood at the time, even if it is denied by certain uninformed critics today. The news accounts also document how Pius XII personally intervened to save Jews during the War, by instructing the Catholic clergy and religious to shelter them; and by opening up his own summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, during the German occupation of Rome (1943-1944). No one but Pius had the authority to do this.
Then, we include with the extraordinary Palestine Post report, of June 22, 1944, just weeks after the liberation of Rome. Reporting from Vatican City, the Post describes how “several thousand refugees, largely Jews,” came to pay their respect and thanks to Pius XII — the very man Yad Vashem now describes as having remained “silent,” and done little to protect Jews during the War.
Clearly, it is time for the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem to correct its falsification of the historical record, and give the wartime pontiff the honor he earned, as did the wartime Jewish community itself.
Friday, October 10, 1958
Ramat Gan Physician Recalls Schooldays with Pius XII
By Mark Segal
RAMAT GAN — “The late pope Pius XII was an excellent pupil at school, and even then spoke of devoting his life to the church,” 82-year-old Prof. Guido Mendes told The Jerusalem Post in an interview at his home here on Thursday.
Prof. Mendes, a lung specialist, studied at the Collegio Romani Gymnasium in Rome with the late Pope. The young looking octogenarian recalled that in the late 1890’s “we were all anti-clerical, but Eugenio (the late Pope) was always outspokenly in favour of the Church.”
He remembered him as dapper in dress, serious in appearance, and always winning academic prizes. For a short time, they had been good friends, and Prof. Mendes recalled visiting the home of the Pacelli family, who were of princely stock and had always been closely associated with the Vatican.
“When Pacelli came to my home, he asked to borrow my copy of Rabbi Ben Hamozeg’s work Apologetica and Dogmatics,” Prof. Mendes recalled.
Their paths separated after their school years — Pacelli going into the Church and Mendes to medical school. They next met in the First World War whilst he was an officer in the Medical Corps and the Pope already a monsignor.
In 1938, with the beginning of the persecution of the Italian Jews, Pacelli’s secretary called from the Vatican to ask the Mendes family if they needed help. The Mendes later escaped to Switzerland and the Vatican secured them certificates to Palestine in 1939.
Met Twice Since War
Since World War II, the Professor had met the late Pope twice, and on both occasions the meeting had been extremely cordial, he recalled. Mendes broached Israel’s opposition to the internationalization of Jerusalem, explaining to the Pontiff that most of the holy places were in any case in Arab hands. The Pope replied: “You realize that the Arabs are laying claim to new Jerusalem as well,” to which Prof. Mendes pointed out that the Russians could also claim rights in an international Jerusalem.
Mr. Mendes recalled that the Pope, meeting survivors of the concentration camps in Italy in 1945, had then predicted “soon you will have a Jewish state.”
October 11, 1963
Israelis Defend Name of Pope Pius XII
From our Correspondent
TEL AVIV — Israelis have now begun to join in the world-wide controversy over The Representative, [a.k.a., The Deputy] the play by Rolf Hochhuth condemning Pope Pius XII’s wartime silence over Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.
Most reactions here, sparked off by the London opening of the play, defend the late Pope and point out a number of individual cases where he was instrumental in saving a limited number of Jews from death. Some critics, however, have said that, on the wider issue of spiritual courage in the darkest chapter of human history, Pope Pius XII, as the leader of 500 million Catholics, should have come out openly for brotherly love and against hatred and the massacre of Jews.
Among the local defenders of Pope Pius XII is a former schoolmate of his in Rome’s Gymnasio Visconti some 70 years or more ago – Dr. Guido Mendes, 87, a former professor of the medical faculty of Rome University, now living in retirement in Ramat Gan.
Dr. Mendes has pointed to the help he and his family received from the late Pope Pius in escaping from European antisemitism during the Second World War and obtaining an immigration permit to what was then Palestine under British rule. He has also stressed that the secretary instructed to give this aid at the time was Monsignor Montini, now Pope Paul VI.
Another Israeli supporter of the late Pope is Mr. Pinchas Lapide, a former member of the British Eighth Army’s Jewish Refugee Committee in Italy from 1943 to 1945, later Israeli Consul in Milan, and now Co-ordinator of Christian Pilgrimages in Israel in the Prime Minister’s Office.
He bases his views on documents he has collected in the course of the past 20 years. Among them is a letter of thanks to Pope Pius XII from representatives of a Jewish refugee camp at Ferramonti-Tarsia, in Southern Italy, written on October 29, 1944, after the Allied liberation of Italy.
“While we have been persecuted and threatened in nearly all European countries, Your Holiness, through His Eminence the Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Borgongini-Duca, has not only sent generous gifts to our camp but also shows lively and fatherly interest in our physical, spiritual and moral well-being,” the letter says.
It continues: “When we were threatened with deportation to Poland in 1942, Your Holiness extended a protective, fatherly hand and foiled the deportation of the Jews interned in Italy, thus saving us from almost certain death.” Mr. Lapide has copies of other, similar letters handed over for transmission to the Pope between 1944 and 1945.
In 1955 the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performed part of Beethoven’s Second Symphony before Pope Pius XII “in appreciation and thankfulness for the great work of humanitarian aid performed by Your Holiness in rescuing large numbers of Jews during the Second World War,” and Mrs. Golda Meir was reported in 1956 to have thanked the Pope for having raised his voice on behalf of the Jews.
Among other documents collected by Mr. Lapide is a report by Dr. Ugo Foa, president of Rome’s Jewish community, describing how Pope Pius offered the congregation gold to help pay the ransom demanded by the Germans in 1943 and how he subsequently instructed Catholic institutions in Italy to give refuge to Jews threatened with deportation.
Testimony of Dietrich von Hildebrand
French author G. M. Tracy, in his 1966 book Pius XII Revealed (Decouverte de Pie XII), quotes from a letter on Pius, written to him by Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand, noted philosopher, theologian and enemy of the Nazis. The letter was written in response to Tracy’s questions about Pacelli’s years as papal nuncio in Germany [1917-1929, during the rise of National Socialism]:
“I consider coming to know Pius XII during his time as Nuncio in Munich as one of the most beautiful gifts that God has given me in my lifetime. I met with him often and had long discussions with him.
“He is one of those few rare men that I have met whose entire being reflected deep spiritual awareness, brilliance, gentleness and concern for others. He had that indescribable spiritual awareness that is found only in extraordinary religious people. He has almost always been described as a diplomat. If one means by that that he had mastered a number of languages, that he was at ease in various circumstances, possessed of a deep learning and extraordinarily skilled in social circumstances — nothing is more accurate.
“But if it is meant to convey the idea that he, like Pope Leo XIII, Rampolla or Gaspari [previous Vatican secretaries of state], was totally absorbed by politics, had an overriding passion for it, that is absolutely false. He often told me of the difficulties he experienced as Nuncio, how confined and superficial his ministry sometimes was. He longed, as a bishop, to be leading a true pastoral life as the spiritual shepherd of his flock. In Munich he seemed to desire a life out of the limelight, and one senses, a life of profound reflection and meditation.
“What primarily stood out and surprised me was how he joined a keen understanding of problems with a candid openness and directness about solutions – this can be seen in his wonderful short speeches – and also in his deeply spiritual life impregnated with the love of Christ. His presence, his words and gestures could communicate this to the outside world.
“He was an open enemy of National Socialism as early as Hitler’s 1923 Putsch. Because I had been condemned to death by the Nazis, I often spoke to him about National Socialism. He told me that it was as opposed to Catholicism as fire to water. He deplored, as I did, the blindness of our friend, Baron von Cramer-Klett, who, at first, was sympathetic with the Nazis.
“I am overjoyed that you have undertaken a biography of this great Pope, especially because of the atrocious caricature that Hochhuth created, aided by the statements of the very dubious Bishop Hudal [a German collaborator]. Hudal wrote a book in which he tried to prove that National Socialism and Christianity could get along together. This book incurred the disdain of Pius XII and Hudal wanted to avenge himself on Pius by slandering him in a completely false way to Hochhuth. It would be impossible to create a more false depiction of Pius than the one created by Hochhuth.”
October 1, 1942
A Vatican Visit
….To be disappointed by the absence of a formal benediction of the cause of the United Nations would be to ignore the dual character of the Church of Rome as a spiritual body and as a political corporation. Because the Church refrains from making a pronouncement which would necessarily engage her political form as well as her spiritual essence, it does not follow that the occupant of the throne of Peter, or his higher counselors, are deaf to the appeal of Christians and of others who unite with them in condemnation of armed wickedness. A study of the words which Pope Pius XII has addressed since his accession in encyclicals and allocutions to the Catholics of various nations leaves no room for doubt. He condemns the worship of force and its concrete manifestation in the suppression of national liberties and in the persecution of the Jewish race. The daily newspaper which represents, semi-officially, opinion at the Vatican, avoids the acute controversies of the war. But its unprejudiced account of the handling of social problems in Britain, its generous and honorable citation of “forbidden” Italian authors and its maintenance of the standard of Italian humanism against those of neo-paganism; its plan warnings as to the significance of Nazi race-worship – all these tend to show where sympathy lies at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church. The millions of believers, lay and clerical, who maintain a stout front against the oppressions of Nazism and of Fascism in their own or in other countries themselves testify that the sympathies found at the heart of the vast system permeate the whole….
New York Times, June 27, 1943:
Vatican Scores Nazi Laws: Warns French Bias Against Jews is Offense Against God
The Vatican radio once more has denounced the racial laws of the totalitarian States in a broadcast directed to France, a British broadcast reported yesterday. The broadcast, recorded by the Columbia Broadcasting System, quoted the Vatican Radio as follows: “He who makes a distinction between Jews and other men is unfaithful to God and is in conflict with God’s commands. As long as men make differences in the treatment of members of the human family, the peace of the world, order and justice will be at stake.”
New York Times, February 9, 1944 [During the German occupation of Rome]
Vatican Repeats Pledge of Haven: Church will Always Provide Sanctuary for All, Radio Comments on Raid
The Vatican radio, commenting on the Fascist raid on St. Paul’s Basilica last Thursday in which sixty-four Italian officers and Jews who had received sanctuary there were arrested, said tonight that the church would never yield in offering charity to everyone. The radio referred to the ‘hospitality granted to the arrested persons’ and said: “It is not a paradox, nor is it absurd that the Church is for everybody and for nobody. Charity is above human constitutions. On this point the priest can never yield. It is the demarcation line between good and evil. Men of honest views will permit us to continue with it.”
The Palestine Post, June 22, 1944 [shortly after Rome’s liberation from German forces]
Sanctuary in the Vatican
VATICAN CITY — Several thousand refugees, largely Jews, during the weekend left the Papal Palace at Castel Gandolfo–the Pope’s summer residence near Marino—after enjoying safety there during the recent terror. Besides Jews, persons of all political creeds who had been endangered were given sanctuary at the Palace. Before leaving the refugees conveyed their gratitude to the Pope through his majordomo.
New York Times, January 22, 1964
British M.P. Says Pius XII Helped Jews During War [In the wake of Hochhuth’s now-discredited play]
Maurice Edelman, a Labor Member of Parliament, said today that Pope Pius XII told him in 1945 that he had secretly requested the Roman Catholic clergy to give shelter and sanctuary to Jews. “Through this intervention,” Mr. Edelman said, “tens of thousands of Jews had in fact been saved.” Mr. Edelman, who is a novelist and president of the Anglo-Jewish Association, was referring to attacks on the late Pope in the play, The Deputy, by Rolf Hochhuth.