Sunday, December 26, 2010

Two Popes, One Holocaust - Kevin Madigan

Kevin J. Madigan is the Winn Professor of ­Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School and the co-author, with Jon D. Levenson, of Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews, published by Yale University Press.Commentary is America’s premier monthly magazine of opinion and a pivotal voice in American intellectual life. Since its inception in 1945, and increasingly after it emerged as the flagship of neoconservatism in the 1970’s, the magazine has been consistently engaged with several large, interrelated questions: the fate of democracy and of democratic ideas in a world threatened by totalitarian ideologies; the state of American and Western security; the future of the Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture in Israel, the United States, and around the world; and the preservation of high culture in an age of political correctness and the collapse of critical standards.





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Madigan's article is a well-balanced commentary on the current state of research into the reactions of Pius XI and Pius XII to the menace of Nazi Germany.  He takes into account the excellent work of Hubert Wolf and Neal Pease.  It is well worth the read.  He is at pains to argue his case based on the evidence and the evidence alone.  Madigan was one of the attendees at the recent conference on Pius XI hosted by Brown University, Rhode Island.

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During the first four years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI put the beatification proceedings of the controversial World War II–era pope, Pius XII, in abeyance. It was, Benedict announced, a time for “reflection”—not yet the time to grant sainthood. At the end of last year, however, the pope apparently decided that the time for “reflection” should draw to a close. In a Mass commemorating the 50th anniversary of the wartime pontiff’s death, Benedict moved Pius XII closer to canonization by declaring him “blessed” and “venerable.” Born Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII presided over the church from 1939 until his death in 1958. In the mysterious, intramural language of the Vatican, venerabilis is a posthumous recognition that designates one who, in his lifetime, achieved acts of heroic virtue. Yet even if one puts aside the contentious debate over what he did or did not do for Jews being deported during the war, Pius XII’s reign was, in fact, conspicuous for its lack of heroism. Seen in that light, Benedict’s declaration of Pius XII as venerable made one wonder how different, in his relationship with the Jewish community, Benedict XVI would be from his beloved predecessor John Paul II.







As it happens, there are interesting questions involving Pius XII and his immediate predecessor, Pius XI. Born Achille Ratti, the elder Pius served as pope from 1929 to 1939. New research by Father Hubert Wolf, a distinguished church historian at the University of Münster, in the Vatican Secret Archives and those of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has cast new light on the two popes who found themselves having to cope with the rise of fascism in Western Europe and Marxism-Leninism to the East. These materials, released only in 2006 and described in Wolf’s Pope and Devil: The Vatican’s Archives and the Third Reich, are, as he observes, “informative particularly as they relate to the person of Eugenio Pacelli” both in his diplomatic and early papal offices. They also allow us to wonder whether the right Pope Pius is being considered for canonization.






In terms of his attitudes to Jews and Judaism, Pius XI was, at the start of his service to the Vatican, certainly no saint. In traditional Christian hagiography, saints are often depicted as exceptionally holy from birth—even sometimes in utero. Pius XI does not fit this canonical model. His is a story of moral evolution, from an initial, unreflective acceptance of common but deplorable and dangerous anti-Semitic stereotypes to profound reflection on, and rejection of, his early opinions, and, finally, to decisive, vigorous denunciation of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. That is, he began, with respect to his attitudes toward Jews, as a moral mediocrity; but he ended his life, with respect to those self-same views, as a heroic if not prophetic and saintly critic—and one whose heroism is to this day largely unknown by Jews and Catholics alike.






Pius XI served as papal nuncio to Poland from 1919 to 1921, once the Polish state had been re-created after having disappeared from the map of Europe since the late 18th century. Ratti initially tolerated some of the crude anti-Semitic stereotypes of the day. As nuncio, he shrank from direct condemnation of violence against Polish Jews by a Catholic population that largely took its cues from the church. Like many ­others in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, he saw a direct link between the Bolsheviks and the Jews. Later, as pope, he concluded concordats with fascist regimes that had openly anti-Jewish aims: in 1929 with Italy and in 1933 with Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Critics have argued that these concordats legitimized racist, expansionist, despotic governments and, finally, in the case of Germany, a genocidal power. His motivation for these decisions can be found in that, like many associated with the Vatican, Pius XI was convinced that liberalism had led to socialism, which, in the ecclesiastical mind of the day, led ineluctably to “Judaeo-Bolshevism.”






Even after he became pope, Pius XI still clung to many of his anti-Jewish biases while distinguishing Jews in general from Italian Jews, with many of whom he was quite friendly. In 1933, for example, he invited a delegation of distinguished Jewish religious and intellectual leaders to the Vatican to express his disgust with the persecution by Hitler of Germany’s Jews. Pius XI’s anti-Communism did not entirely blind him to the dangers of racism, which he perceived to be contrary to the Catholic faith—that is, a dogmatic heresy—and thus a danger, by definition, to the claims of the Catholic magisterium. It has been plausibly argued that Pius’s position on racism initially may have dissuaded Mussolini from pursuing a racial policy analogous to that engineered by the Nazis (though such laws would eventually be promulgated in Italy during the last years of his papal reign).






Like Ratti, the future Pius XII also made his name in the church as a nuncio—in his case, perhaps fatefully, in Munich from 1917 to 1925 and then in Berlin from 1925 to 1929. Pacelli, in his time in Munich, consistently linked Jews and Communism and, as ­Father Wolf observes, even credited notions of a “Jewish-Bolshevik world conspiracy.” These, of course, played a poisonous and then deadly role in the propaganda of the German Reich. Exuberance for his Mercedes-Benz is not all Pacelli took back with him from Germany to Rome when he became Pius XI’s cardinal secretary of state in 1930. Among other things, he feared a revived Kulturkampf, the “culture war” in late-19th-century Germany engendered by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s fears about the extent of Catholic political and social influence, which led to severe discrimination against the church and its adherents. This historical lesson led Pacelli to conclude that the church must avoid political involvement at all costs and that it should, if need be, as Father Wolf puts it, “withdraw completely from society into the sacristy.” He was also deeply affected by the prescient but failed appeal for peace in the middle of World War I by the sitting pope, Benedict XV, who urged all parties in May 1917 to “avoid the suicide of civilized Europe.” Benedict’s failure to alter the trajectory of the war persuaded the future Pope Pius XII that direct papal intervention in or speeches on international conflict or tragedy would achieve little or nothing in the way of social and humanitarian consequence.






While Pacelli was still nuncio in Germany, a furious debate unfolded within the Vatican over the Catholic Good Friday liturgy, which contained a particularly ugly anti-Semitic prayer. In 1926, an organization called “Friends of Israel” (Amici Israel) was established. The Amici was a philo-Semitic sodality that included, by 1928, around 20 cardinals, 300 bishops and archbishops, and 3,000 priests among its members. Its main objective was to achieve good relations with Jewish communities and organizations. A second aim was to supply a counter-voice to the openly anti-Semitic stance of the secretary of Pius XI’s Holy Office, Merry del Val (1865-1930), a Spanish cardinal whose beatification process is also ongoing.






Liturgically speaking, the Friends’ aim was ultimately to purge the Catholic rite of elements that were flagrantly anti-Semitic. They had also agreed to avoid all anti-Semitic expressions and practices not only in the liturgy but also in their everyday lives. In context, this meant refusal to refer to Jews as deicides or to Jerusalem as the city of God-killers. They also explicitly rejected the vicious falsehood generated by, above all, Christian clerics: the blood-libel myth—that Jews yearly abducted and killed Christian children for religious purposes. (Though born in the Middle Ages, the blood libel was still widely credited in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.) In addition, the Friends avoided the term “conversion,” as it was offensive to Jews. All this ­occurred in the context of a European Catholic liturgical life in which sermons were regularly embroidered with anti-Semitic vituperation.






In 1928 the Amici issued a pamphlet entitled Pax Super Israel (Peace Upon Israel). The pamphlet provoked a fierce debate within the Roman curia that revealed a wide spectrum of attitudes toward the Jews, ranging from what Father Wolf calls “hard-core” anti-Semitism to thoroughgoing philo-Semitism. At the time, and all the way until the liturgical reforms enacted by the Second Vatican Council, the eighth prayer of the Good Friday liturgy included a plea for the “perfidious Jews.” Members of the Friends of Israel understood that talk of “perfidious Jews” could easily be appropriated by racial ideologues, whose views were gaining ascendancy in Europe. That Catholics furnished Jew-baiters with such language was understood to be particularly dangerous, as it supplied them with an anti-Semitism based in liturgy and sanctioned by the authority of the church.






For his part, del Val tried to place Pax Super Israel on the Index of Forbidden Books. He also rejected the Friends’ recommendation that the “perfidious Jews” language be purged from the liturgy, arguing that in Matthew 27:25 the Jews had explicitly accepted responsibility for Christ’s crucifixion and dismissed the Friends’ petition as “nonsensical.” For del Val, this Jewish people were simply stiff-necked as well as cursed.






As Father Wolf acutely observes of del Val’s response, “echoes of a völkisch interpretation are obvious” and would become “even sharper as the opinion proceeded.” Indeed, he argues that some of the arguments advanced by del Val’s colleagues in the Holy Office about “the Jewish peril” could well have been lifted from the writings of racial anti-Semites of the time. As the Nazis would later state, del Val suggested that just as Jews had secretly infiltrated all modern societies, they were now attempting to do the same with the Catholic Church by insinuating themselves into the Friends of Israel. To his credit, Pope Pius XI was so shocked by del Val’s assertion that he summoned him for a dressing-down.






Pius XI’s response to this controversy revealed a still-evolving conscience and less than appropriate alacrity in responding to the potentially lethal consequences of anti-Semitism. He rejected the Friends’ petition, dissolved their organization, and publicly condemned anti-Semitism. He did so in the face of opposition from some of the cardinals of the Holy Office, who objected to the pope’s emphasizing that the Catholic Church had always rejected all forms of anti-Semitism. Their reason is telling. Those cardinals argued against Pius’s declaration that “the church condemns anti-Semitism,” because they wanted to leave room for an anti-Semitism that was “permissible” or even “necessary.” Still, for the first time ever, the magisterium, in the person of Pope Pius XI, had authoritatively repudiated modern anti-Semitism. Granted, the pope rejected the suggested reform of the Good Friday prayer. Yet racial anti-Semitism he presciently rejected with disgust.






Despite the wide-ranging nature of this internal debate, Father Wolf demonstrates that on major issues, Vatican decisions taken during this period were made by just two men: Pacelli and the man who made him secretary of state, Pius XI. Pacelli was the central figure in the deliberations between the Vatican and Germany, discussions that resulted in the 1933 Concordat between the church and the Nazi regime. Pacelli and Pius XI both hoped to preserve the capacity of Catholic churches, schools, and other institutions to function unmolested by Hitler’s henchmen, a desire that eventually proved to be futile. As the Germans began to pass laws designed to isolate Jews economically, socially, and culturally, the Vatican remained silent. This was so even though the Vatican nuncio in Germany issued frequent and faithful reports on the deteriorating situation of the Jews. At the same time, it should be noted that the two men at the top were not always so silent; they were quite vocal when Catholic priests and institutions were harassed. This two-man-show arrangement, too, was to have fateful consequences. When Pacelli became pope, he acted, by and large (especially on the issue of denouncing Hitler and the Final Solution), without seeking the advice of underlings.






As Father Wolf concedes, the Concordat was a pact with the devil. The unsavory covenant was motivated by a desire to protect Catholic, and only Catholic, peoples, practices, and institutions. It was this same mindset that, fatefully, Pacelli took with him to the office of the papacy during the war and the Shoah, at which time he regarded imperiled Jews as, at best, lying outside his universe of moral concern or obligation. He was also convinced that Nazi atrocities ought to be challenged locally by German bishops. This proved a miscalculation. During the war, the nationalism of the German bishops effortlessly overcame their ethical obligations to object to mass murder—except in the case of the “euthanasia” program, which targeted handicapped German Gentiles.






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In the spring of 1933, immediately after Hitler’s successful grab for power, Pius XI asked Pacelli to look into the possibilities of Catholic intervention against anti-Semitic excesses. Pacelli complied and actually stated his reasons for doing so, in words that would come back to haunt him, as follows: “it is in the tradition of the Holy See to fulfill its universal mission of peace and love for all human beings, regardless of their social status or the religion to which they belong.” With these words, Father Wolf observes, Pacelli had acknowledged the principle, which he proceeded in the hour of greatest Jewish agony to ignore, of the responsibility of the Catholic Church as the primary ­European “advocate for and protector of human rights.”






This was a period when persecution of German Jews intensified from boycott to legalized social, economic, educational, and cultural segregation, to Aryanization of businesses, and finally to the horrors of Kristallnacht. At this time, discussions were held in the curia about the possibility of denouncing Nazi atrocities. In the end, these came to naught, with Pacelli declaring, with characteristic “diplomacy,” that it would be “very delicate” to condemn Nazi atrocities.






Yet these very enormities (especially Kristallnacht) began to persuade Pius XI that accommodation with so evil a regime was unacceptable for the Vicar of Christ or for the religious communities over which he presided—and that the general public and ordinary Catholics might interpret supine quietude on the part of the Holy See with respect to Nazi racial doctrine as acceptance or even approval of this ideology. It was only after Kristallnacht drew no general ecclesiastical response in 1937 that Pius XI began to have pangs of conscience about the Holy See’s silence in the face of this escalation of anti-Semitic violence. From that point on he ceased to behave with the moral mediocrity of a typical curial diplomat and started to act more like a Christian saint.






Father Wolf presents us with compelling evidence that in the last two years of his pontificate, Pius XI decided to intervene more decisively against National Socialism’s racial ideology and the persecution of the Jews. Even before Kristallnacht, he issued the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Anxiety). Written in the vernacular rather than in Latin, it was delivered on Palm Sunday to large German congregations, and it condemned more than just the many brazen breaches of the Concordat that upset the Vatican. It also criticized Nazi racial ideology and Hitler himself. The Nazis were infuriated and responded in their typical racialist fashion: they absurdly charged that the pope had been critical of Nazi activities because he was half-Jewish.






In 1938, Pius XI attempted to do more than speak; he tried in concrete ways to assist persecuted Jews in Germany, Austria, and Italy. Late that year, he attempted to have diplomatic representatives of the Vatican in the Americas and Australia ask those governments about the possibility of accepting Jewish immigrants. He also had the infamous writings of the Nazi chief ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, placed on the Index of Forbidden Books. Pacelli did not prevent this even though four years earlier he had termed it politically inopportune.






Angered by the course of events in Hitler’s Germany, the suddenly fearless Pius XI charged an American Jesuit, Father John LaFarge, who had criticized American racism publicly, to write an encyclical to condemn all forms of racism, especially anti-Semitism. Intriguingly, he did so without consulting Pacelli. In fact, when summoned to the pope’s private summer residence, the Jesuit priest met with the pope alone. In the meeting, the Jesuit was instructed by Pius XI to “say simply what you would say if you yourself were pope.” Pius XI, who had read LaFarge’s book on America’s treatment of blacks, told the Jesuit that he believed God had sent LaFarge to Rome, providentially, at a moment when Europe needed desperately to hear a message on race.






With two colleagues working outside of Paris, LaFarge quickly produced the document, which he entitled Humani Generis Unitas (The Unity of the Human Race). This came to be known as the “lost” or, more precisely, “hidden” encyclical. On the very day LaFarge submitted it, in December 1938, Pius XI tearily explained to a group of Belgian pilgrims that anti-Semitism was not reconcilable with the Catholic faith. Indeed, he declared it “a repulsive movement with which we Christians can have nothing in common.” Speaking of Jews and Catholics, he concluded, famously, “Spiritually, we are all Semites.”






Soon, Pius XI began to consider placing Hitler’s own Mein Kampf on the Index and to use the occasion to condemn the racial errors of the time. He ordered the Holy Office to proceed with a critical examination. Ultimately, a document was produced, distilling 37 propositions, mostly from Mein Kampf, many of which had to do with the dangerous doctrine of the superiority of the Aryan race and the heretical notion that humanity was divided by race. Jesuits again led the charge, arguing for an open confrontation with Hitler. There was also a conciliatory faction. Pacelli led that group.






Despite the lack of support from his secretary of state, Pius XI planned to use the 10th anniversary of the formal independence of the Vatican city-state to denounce fascism. The now critically ill pope dedicated the final hours of his life to writing this text. But Pius XI died on February 10, 1939, the day before he was scheduled to give the speech. On February 15, Pacelli ordered all printed copies of the speech and plates in the Vatican printing office destroyed; too delicate, again.






Later that year, Pacelli was elected Pope Pius XII. The choice of name is not insignificant. Pacelli clearly intended not only to honor Ratti but also to signal continuity with his predecessor. Yet German fears of renewed diplomatic conflict with the Vatican quickly turned out to be unfounded. Monsignor Domenico Tardini, who served Pacelli as one of the top two men in the secretariat of state, observed, in masterful understatement, that he lacked the “pugnacious spirit” of Pius XI. The Jesuit priest Robert Leiber, one of Pius XII’s closest advisers, came to the conclusion that while “Pius XI was in general not easy to dissuade from taking public positions on burning questions,” Pius XII “was not easy to move toward that end.” When one considers the burning issue of the time, one cannot but ask an agonizing question: would the fate of many of the 6 million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis and their collaborators have been different had Pius XI lived or Pius XII been more like him?






Given the “diplomatic” instincts attested to by friendly contemporaries, it cannot be surprising, as historian Frank Coppa has observed, that Pius XII’s “first priority” upon donning the papal tiara in 1939 was “to conciliate Nazi Germany.” In fact, following his accession to the papacy, relations between the Vatican and Germany became less fraught. One of Pius XII’s first letters was to Hitler, announcing his accession. He addressed it to the “Fuehrer,” a salutation that it is hard to imagine his predecessor using. In the spring of that same year, French diplomats expressed anxiety that in the face of the impending invasion of Poland, the new pope was somehow content to remain silent. To them, his impassivity seemed like indifference. But instead of speaking, he asked Catholics on all sides to begin a “crusade of prayer” for peace, a tactic not likely to deter Hitler from the war he craved. The difference between his attitudes and actions toward Germany when compared with those of Pius XI was pronounced. Later, when war had broken out and persecution had evolved into extermination, no less a figure than the devout Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain told Aryeh Kubovy of the World Jewish Congress that he guessed Pius XI would have issued a statement of the church’s position toward the Jews but was quite sure Pius XII would not. His guess was tragically right.






Pacelli himself supplied evidence of even more profound reluctance to alienate Germany. When Pius XI expressed his intention to terminate relations between the Vatican and the Third Reich, Pacelli boasted that he had persuaded him not to do so. As the war began and wore on, and as news of the mass murder of the Jews regularly reached the Vatican—often supplied by Vatican diplomats and Axis military chaplains who had witnessed firsthand the atrocities of the SS’s “mobile killing units,” or Einsatzgruppen, in Eastern Europe—it would have been possible to excommunicate the National Socialist dictator or those of his associates who were nominally Catholic. Father Wolf has concluded, however, that there is “no trace” in the Vatican archives of any effort to initiate excommunication proceedings against Adolf Hitler. Pronouncing a reich chancellor and head of state anathema was simply out of the question. Hitler remained a member of the Catholic Church until the day he died. “Like the Pope,” Father Wolf ruefully concludes, “even the devil could be Catholic.”






Though Pius XI was, by egregious contrast to his successor, ultimately bold and unshrinking in the face of the Vatican’s fascist and totalitarian conversation partners, including Mussolini and Hitler, there is no sign that the Roman curia has any intention of promoting him to sainthood. Perhaps the reason is that it would weaken Pacelli’s historically wobbly case. Yet when one compares the record of the two popes, the question of who is more deserving of recognition and celebration, if not canonization, may not be all that hard to answer. Unlike Pius XII, Pius XI “understood that the dehumanization of Jews was anti-Christian, destructive and dangerous long before he recognized that it might culminate in genocide,” as Coppa argues. Even when it did culminate in genocide, as Father Wolf notes, “in exchange for a promise of spiritual freedom,” the church under Pius XII was willing “to renounce worldly engagement in politics and public affairs, and literally withdraw” to its liturgical dressing chambers. Pius XII let the demand to serve as supreme shepherd of his flock completely trump “his duty to advocate for all human beings formed in God’s likeness.”






The church has devoted a great deal of effort in recent decades to defending Pius XII against accusations of indifference about or even complicity in the Holocaust. As such, proclaiming his innocence and downplaying the unhappy facts about his reluctance to take on the Nazis has become something of an article of faith for many Catholics. Indeed, the movement to grant him sainthood is seen by many of the faithful as an appropriate response to charges they have come to see as a blanket accusation against their entire church. But rather than focusing on attempts to burnish the tarnished reputation of Pacelli, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate his largely forgotten predecessor, a man who ultimately lived up to the moral responsibilities of his office in ways that his successor namesake did not.






Pius XII and Wikileaks - The Guardian article

This is the article that appeared in the UK newspaper, The Guardian on Tuesday 21 December 2010.  It is, in effect, a summary of the four cables related to Pius XII, the archives and current moves to access the war-time material.  Journalist Andrew Brown poses an interesting question at the end.  Is the current round of disappointments symptomatic of a deeper lack of energy in the Vatican over resolving, or attempting to resolve, the historical analysis of Pius XII? Is it part of a deeper Catholic "culture war" between those who believe the Church should engage with the world in which we all live, prepared to acknowledge mistakes and errors as well as the good the Church brings, and those who believe Catholic identity has been compromised and needs clear, unequivocal one-voiced leadership? 

From my perspective, the questions are interesting, but beyond what I am prepared to spend time on in this blog. 

WikiLeaks cables: Vatican vetoed Holocaust memorial over Pius XII row



Moves to beatify controversial wartime pope reveal tension between conservatives and liberals in Catholic church



Andrew Brown







Pius XII has long been a controversial figure for his failure publicly to denounce the Holocaust in 1941 or 1942.
The Vatican has withdrawn from a written agreement to join an international Holocaust memorial organisation because of tensions over the activity of Pope Pius XII, the pope during the second world war, American diplomatic cables show.


Relations have become so frosty that the Vatican "rowed back on a prior written agreement" to take up observer status on an international organisation dedicated to remembering the Holocaust and transmitting its lessons to the future, according to Julieta Valls Noyes, the number two at the American embassy to the Holy See.

Julieta Valls Noyes, deputy chief of mission, US Embassy to the Holy See (August 2008 -)


In October 2009, she reported that the plans for the Vatican to take up observer status at the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research "had fallen apart completely … due to Vatican back-pedalling".


She was unclear whether this was attributable to the newly-appointed deputy foreign minister of the Vatican, Mgr Ettore Balestrero, whom she described as "relatively inexperienced", adding that "this would not be the first time he has complicated Vatican foreign relations".


But she thought it might also indicate that the Vatican "may ... be pulling back due to concerns about ITF pressure to declassify records from the WWII-era pontificate of Pope Pius XII".


Pius XII has long been a controversial figure for his failure publicly to denounce the Holocaust in 1941 or 1942, when the Vatican was first informed of what was going on.


Before becoming pope, he had served as the Vatican ambassador in Berlin. Some Jewish groups have accused him of anti-semitic attitudes; his defenders, among them many other Jews, have argued that any more overt resistance to the Nazis would have been counter-productive, citing the example of the church in the Netherlands, where savage repression and the deportation of many more Jews followed a denunciation of Nazi policies from the pulpit.


Both sides believe they will be proved right by papers in the Vatican archives, but their release has been extremely slow. The American diplomatic cables show a long and increasingly futile effort on behalf of the embassy to mediate between the Vatican archivists and outside historians, bedevilled by mutual mistrust.


The story starts in 2001, when the first attempt to negotiate a solution had already broken down. Father Peter Gumpel, a German Jesuit priest and admirer of Pius XII, who was keeper of the archives, threatened to sue a journalist who suggested that he or his family had been Nazis, the cables show.


"Gumpel also expressed concern about references in the media and in other comments to him as the 'German Jesuit'. Gumpel [said] his family had been victims of Nazi persecution and several had been killed by the Nazis.


He himself had to flee Nazi Germany as a refugee, first to France and then later to Holland. He recalled that at one point a reporter had planned to print an assertion that Gumpel was a Nazi himself – something Gumpel said was libellous, and which he was more than willing to go to court to fight."


The next year, Cardinal Walter Kasper, another German, attempted to restart the dialogue over the papers. The-then American ambassador, Jim Nicholson, reported a conversation with him on December 18 2001. "[Kasper] said that Father Gumpel was the Vatican's best informed living expert on the papacy of Pius XII."


Two months later, partly responding to American pressure, Pope John Paul II, who also wanted his predecessor canonised, authorised the early release of documents relating to Pius XII's earlier career as the Vatican's ambassador to Germany.


Nicholson reported: "The decision … appears to be an attempt by the pope to silence accusations of anti-semitism levelled against his predecessor Pius XII. It may also herald renewed Vatican interest in beatifying Pius XII – free from the pall of scandal and derision.


The decision by Pope John Paul II to dispense with standard operating procedures in this case comes after years of Vatican protestations that this material could not be released because it was not yet properly catalogued. The decision shows that whatever the pope wants, does in fact happen."


But this would not be true for very much longer. As John Paul II sank into the Parkinsonian condition that would eventually kill him in 2005, the Vatican drifted. There is reference to the shortage of researchers, and by the time the subject resurfaces in 2009 all hope of compromise seems gone.


Noyes reported that only six or eight researchers were working on the 16m documents, stored in hundreds of crates, that are left over from Pius XII's papacy. It had earlier taken a team of four Jesuits, working full time, 17 years to produce 12 volumes of his diplomatic correspondence.


One well-informed Jewish observer remarked that the desire to canonise Pius XII stems almost entirely from internal Catholic dynamics.


What really mattered in the struggle between liberals and conservatives was the interpretation of the reforming Second Vatican Council, called by his successor, John XXIII.


Was this a break with the past, as liberals believe, or merely a development, as conservatives see it?


So long as John XXIII is on the road to sainthood, and Pius is blocked, it is harder to maintain that the two men pursued that same policy.


In this context, the Holocaust is not the most important fact about Pius's pontificate, as for Jews it must be. This kind of disagreement could not be solved even if the archives were entirely open, and all the facts were known, and agreed.


Pius XII and Wikileaks 4

The fourth United States and Vatican document in the Guardian wikileaks article concerns the Vatican withdrawal from participation in the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research.  The ambassador considers the relatively new Undersecretary for States, Ettore Balestrero (appointed 17 August 2009) a significant reason for the project's failure.  Ambassador Miguel Diaz comments that the failure of the ITF is only one of an ongoing pattern of difficulties experienced by historians and others attempting to research the Vatican's war history.  The word "defensive" seems to sum up the general attitude of the Vatican towards the ITF and related projects.  It is particularly disturbing to read at the end of the cable that the archives have only recently, as of October 2009, increased the number of archivists working on the files from Pius XII.


4. 13 October 2009

Friday, 16 October 2009, 14:39
Ettore Balestrero,
Vatican Undersecretary for States

Ferdinand Trauttsmandorff and Dina Porat 

Steven Katz

Miguel Diaz
US Ambassador to the Holy See
2009-





C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000106

SIPDIS


EO 12958 DECL: 10/16/2034


TAGS PREL, SCUL, VT, IS


SUBJECT: (C) VATICAN BACKS AWAY FROM DEAL WITH INTERNATIONAL


HOLOCAUST TASK FORCE


REF: A. VATICAN 25 B. VATICAN 99


VATICAN 00000106 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: JulietaValls Noyes, DCM, EXEC, State. REASON: 1.4 (b) 1. (C) Summary: On October 13, the Holy See walked back from a prior written agreement to become an observer on the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF). The decision may been taken by the Vatican's relatively inexperienced new deputy foreign minister, and if so, would not be the first time he has complicated Vatican foreign relations. But the Vatican may also be pulling back due to concerns about ITF pressure to declassify records from the WWII-era pontificate of Pope Pius XII. Regardless of the cause, the ITF will continue to pursue closer ties with the Holy See in the months ahead. End Summary.


High Hopes Dashed


-----------------


2. (C) Three members of the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) visited Rome this week to finalize arrangements with the Holy See to become an ITF observer. However, over lunch on October 13, the team members told the Austrian Ambassador and UK and U.S. DCM's that the plan had fallen apart completely that morning due to Vatican back-pedaling. Team members -- Austrian Ambassador Ferdinand Trauttsmandorff, U.S. Professor Steve Katz of the Elie Wiesel Center at Boston University, and Dina Porat, the Israeli academic advisor to the ITF -- expressed considerable disappointment about the unexpected set-back.


3. (C) They were especially chagrined, Trauttsmandorff said, because the Vatican had first offered more than the ITF asked then rescinded its commitment. Specifically, the ITF had suggested during a February visit to Rome that the Vatican enter into a "special arrangement" with the body. The February talks and follow up discussions went very well (ref a). Subsequently, the then-Deputy Foreign Minister-equivalent at the Holy See, Monsignor PietroParolin, wrote to the ITF to indicate that the Vatican wanted more than a "special arrangement" and was prepared to become an ITF observer. (Note: It's unclear whether Parolin suggested permanent observer or observer country status for the Vatican. End Note)


New Vatican Team Disappoints


----------------------------


4. (C) On arrival in Rome in October, though, the ITF had to deal with a new team, as the highly-regarded Parolin had been promoted and sent as Nuncio to Venezuela. Parolin's successor, Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, saw the ITF group instead, at what the ITF team expected to be the final meeting before signing an observer agreement. Surprising the ITF, Balestrero also invited a representative from the Vatican Archives, Msgr. Chappin, and the Holy See's chief negotiator for the long-delayed Vatican-Israel Fundamental Agreement, Father David Jaeger.


5. (C) All three men, Trauttsmandorff said, evinced considerable discomfort with the idea of ITF observer status. Balestrero argued that the Vatican needed to study the implications of the status further before committing, focusing on legalistic impediments that Parolin had already dismissed. Jaeger was hostile overall to the ITF, Porat said. She fiercely criticized his inclusion, saying he had no role to play in a discussion of the ITF's relationship with the Vatican.XXXXXXXXXXXX Porat said that if Jaeger was so rigid about closer ties with the ITF while Austria held its rotating chair, no progress would be possible next year when Israel chairs the body. Trauttsmandorff was less harsh than his colleague but allowed the Jaeger's involvement in the meeting was not constructive. XXXXXXXXXXXX


Connection to the Papal Archives?


---------------------------------


6. (C) The three ITF visitors agreed that Chappin, who had previously been more open to dialogue with them, was very defensive at the October 13 meeting. He believed that the ITF would ask the Archives to release ahead of schedule the documents from the papacy of Pius XII, the World War II-era Pope. (Note: The Vatican releases the documents from each pontificate as a whole. End Note) DCM said that Father Norbert Hofmann, Secretary of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, had told her the preceding week that the files from the entire papacy would be ready for declassification in about five years. Katz thought this was far too rosy a


VATICAN 00000106 002.2 OF 002


scenario given that only six-eight researchers are now reviewing the documents. Although this number is up from the one-two working on them a year ago, he thought it was insufficient to catalog and review the 16 million documents from the Pius XII Papacy.


7. (C) The ITF members acknowledged their wish to gain access to the Pius XII files as soon as possible. Nevertheless, they also accepted the Vatican's arguments, shared by DCM, that ordained clergy must review them first given the possibility that the files contain confessional documents from individual Catholics. Trauttsmandorff insisted, however, that the ITF sought a relationship with the Vatican not only to get access to the Vatican Archives, but also to work jointly with Catholic Church leaders in many countries on anti-racism and remembrance education.


Now What?


---------


8. (C) Despite the disappointment, the ITF members were determined to find a way to move ahead with the Vatican. They concluded that they must now educate new Deputy Foreign Minister Balestrero about the ITF and its role, just as they had done with his predecessor, Parolin. They would also reach out to friends in the Vatican, such as Cardinal Kasper, to exert influence on their behalf. UK DCM indicated that HMG would also express support for ITF goals in discussions with Vatican officials, as did U.S. DCM. The team members left discouraged but committed to keep their eyes on the long-term goal.


Comment


-------


9. (C) Unfortunately, the ITF is only the latest group to run into problems caused by the recent change of personnel at the Vatican Foreign Ministry - others, including this embassy (ref B), have experienced similar problems on other issues. What remains to be seen is whether the ITF's problems are the results of Msgr. Balestrero's growing pains or caused by deeper Vatican uneasiness related to declassification of their Archives. The ITF team did not believe the Vatican was sending - via the decision to slow progress on the ITF observer status -- a subtle message to Israel about the need for progress in the Fundamental Agreement talks. Time will tell. Diaz


Pius XII and Wikileaks 3

The third United States and Vatican document in the Guardian wikileaks article reports the decision of Pope John Paul II to order the limited opening of the files from the papacy of Pius XI related to Germany between 1922-1939. The entire archive of Pius XI was opened in 2006.  The ambassador's comment at the end is telling - when the Church is concerned enough to do something, she will move regardless of time-honoured protocols.  The opening of the archives from the pontificate of Pius XI was such a case.  According to the embassy cable John Paul wanted and end to what he described as "unjust and unwelcome" speculation about his predecessor, Pius XII. 

3. 22 February 2002

Tuesday, 19 February 2002, 06:07



UNCLAS VATICAN 000819


SIPDIS


DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENNUTI), EUR/PA/PD (HILTON), EUR/RHA


(BINDENAGEL), EUR/AGS, DRL


EO 12958 N/A


TAGS PREL, GM, VT


SUBJECT: VATICAN ARCHIVES - POPE ORDERS PARTIAL OPENING FOR


NAZI GERMANY AND WORLD WAR II DOCUMENTS


1. POPE JOHN PAUL II HAS ORDERED THE PARTIAL OPENING OF THE VATICAN ARCHIVES FOR MATERIAL RELATING TO THE PERIOD LEADING TO AND DURING WORLD WAR II. IN A FEBRUARY 15 STATEMENT THE VATICAN'S CHIEF ARCHIVIST SAID THAT FROM THE BEGINNING OF 2003 MATERIAL FROM PIUS XI'S PONTIFICATE HELD BY THE VATICAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PERTAINING TO BAVARIA (1922- 1939) AND GERMANY (1922-1939), AND IN THE VATICAN SECRET UNCLASSIFIED


PAGE 02 VATICA 00819 190632Z ARCHIVE FROM THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE IN MUNICH (1922-1934) AND BERLIN (1922-1930) WOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO RESEARCHERS. THE COMPLETE RELEASE OF ALL DOCUMENTATION RELATING TO PIUS XI'S PONTIFICATE IS STILL SOME THREE YEARS AWAY WHEN ACCORDING TO THE VATICAN STATEMENT, MATERIAL ON VATICAN-GERMANY ISSUES DURING THE PONTIFICATE OF PIUS XII (1939-1958) WILL ALSO BE RELEASED.


2. ARCHIVAL MATERIAL RELATING TO PRISONERS DURING WORLD WAR II WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE FROM 2003. THE VATICAN STATEMENT POINTED OUT THAT THE RELEASE OF THIS DOCUMENTATION WOULD "REVEAL TO HISTORIANS THE GREAT WORKS OF CHARITY AND ASSISTANCE CARRIED OUT BY PIUS XII ON BEHALF OF THE NUMEROUS PRISONERS AND OTHER WAR VICTIMS, FROM WHATEVER NATION, RELIGION AND RACE."


3. THE VATICAN STATEMENT HIGHLIGHTED THAT THIS EXTRAORDINARY DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL VATICAN ARCHIVE PROCEDURES WAS EXPRESSLY ORDERED BY POPE JOHN PAUL II, IN THE HOPE THAT THE GESTURE WOULD "CONTRIBUTE TO THE END OF UNJUST AND UNWELCOME SPECULATION."


4. COMMENT: THE DECISION TO PARTIALLY OPEN THE VATICAN ARCHIVES RELATING TO VATICAN-GERMAN RELATIONS DURING THE LEAD UP TO WORLD WAR II AND DURING THE WAR ITSELF APPEARS TO BE AN ATTEMPT BY THE POPE TO SILENCE ACCUSATIONS OF ANTI- SEMITISM LEVELED AGAINST HIS PREDECESSOR PIUS XII. IT MAY ALSO HERALD RENEWED VATICAN INTEREST IN BEATIFYING PIUS XII - FREE FROM THE PALL OF SCANDAL AND DERISION. THE DECISION BY POPE JOHN PAUL II TO DISPENSE WITH STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES IN THIS CASE COMES AFTER YEARS OF VATICAN UNCLASSIFIED


PAGE 03 VATICA 00819 190632Z PROTESTATIONS THAT THIS MATERIAL COULD NOT BE RELEASED BECAUSE IT WAS NOT YET PROPERLY CATALOGUED. IN ADDITION, THE GENERAL ARGUMENT WAS FORWARDED THAT MUCH ARCHIVAL MATERIAL WAS "SENSITIVE" AND MIGHT EMBARRASS LIVING PERSONS, AND THUS SHOULD NOT BE RELEASED UNTIL AFTER A PROPER PERIOD OF TIME - CURRENTLY 70 YEARS. TODAY'S DECISION SHOWS THAT WHEN THE POPE IS CONCERNED ENOUGH ABOUT CHURCH INTERESTS, HE WILL DO AWAY WITH THE VATICAN'S STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES IN ORDER TO FURTHER THOSE INTERESTS. THE DECISION SHOWS THAT WHATEVER THE POPE WANTS, DOES IN FACT HAPPEN. END COMMENT. NICHOLSON


UNCLASSIFIED






2002VATICA00819 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED


Robert James Nicholson,
US Ambassador to the Holy See
2001-2005

Pius XII and Wikileaks 2

The second United States and Vatican document in the Guardian wikileaks article detailed a conversation with Cardinal Walter Kaspar, head of the Vatican department for Inter-Faith relations.  Kaspar commented on the status of the International Catholic Jewish Historical Commission that was formed in 1999 to examine the twelve volumes of Actes et Documents (ADSS) and raise issues for discussion.  The ICJHC's report was tabled in 2000 and remains to this day, unanswered.  Much acrimony surrounded the final days and weeks of the commission's work.  Fr Gumpel went so far as to say that the commission had acted dishonestly. 

The embassy cable accurately summarises Vatican sensitivity over Pius XII and regarding Kaspar as a "realist".  At every turn in this cable stands the white elephant - the unopened archives. 

2. 31 December 2001

US embassy cables: US-Vatican talks continue over archives of Pius XII



Monday, 31 December 2001, 08:43


C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 006619


SIPDIS


EMBASSY VATICAN MESSAGE 134/01


EO 12958 DECL: 12/19/2006


TAGS KNAR, PHUM, PREL, VT


SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES CATHOLIC-JEWISH HISTORICAL


COMMISSION WITH CARDINAL KKASPER


REF: 01VATICAN 4258


CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON, REASON E.O. 12958 1.5 (B,D)


1. (C) SUMMARY: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSED CATHOLIC-JEWISH DIALOGUE DURING A 12/18 COURTESY CALL ON PROPAGANDA FIDES CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 02 VATICA 06619 310931Z PRESIDENT CARDINAL WALTER KASPER. KASPER WAS OPTIMISTIC THAT A CATHOLIC-JEWISH COMMISSION OF LAY HISTORIANS WOULD BE RE-FORMED WITH A CLEAR MANDATE AND WOULD BE ABLE TO CONDUCT A SERIOUS EXAMINATION OF THE TWELVE-VOLUME WORK ON PIUS XII'S PAPACY, BUT NOT OF THE ARCHIVE ITSELF. HE SAID THE FAILURE OF THE PREVIOUS COMMISSION DID NOT MEAN CATHOLIC-JEWISH DIALOGUE HAD FAILED. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) DURING A 12/18 COURTESY CALL ON PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY (PROPAGANDA FIDES)  [sic] CARDINAL WALTER KASPER, CONVERSATION FOCUSED ON CATHOLIC-JEWISH DIALOGUE. (NOTE: KASPER EXPLAINED THAT PROPAGANDA FIDES, AS OPPOSED TO THE COMMISSION RESPONSIBLE FOR INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE, HAS COMPETENCY IN THIS AREA BECAUSE CHRISTIANS AND JEWS SHARE THE OLD TESTAMENT). THE AMBASSADOR RECALLED THAT THE CATHOLIC-JEWISH COMMISSION LOOKING AT THE ROLE OF PIUS XII DURING WORLD WAR II HAD DISSOLVED IN AMID SOME ACRIMONY, AND THAT THERE WAS INTEREST IN THE UNITED STATES ABOUT WHETHER IT WOULD BE RE-FORMED. KASPER REPLIED THAT THE FAILURE OF THE COMMISSION DID NOT REPRESENT THE FAILURE OF DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC AND JEWISH FAITHS. HE LAID THE COMMISSION'S FAILURE TO PERSONALITY PROBLEMS AND TO LACK OF CLARITY ON ITS MANDATE (WHICH THE VATICAN MAINTAINS WAS ONLY TO REVIEW THE EXISTING 12-VOLUME HISTORY OF PIUS XII AND NOT TO EXPLORING THE VATICAN ARCHIVES). HE SAID THAT FATHER GUMPEL (REFTEL) WAS THE VATICAN'S BEST INFORMED LIVING EXPERT ON THE PAPACY OF PIUS XII, AND THAT THEY HAD TURNED TO HIM TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE 12 VOLUMES POSED BY THE COMMISSION. XXXXXXXXXXXX3. (C) KASPER WAS HOPEFUL THAT A DECISION WOULD BE TAKEN SOON TO BEGIN EXPLORING RE-FORMING A COMMISSION OF HIGHLY QUALIFIED ACADEMICS NOT DIRECTLY ASSOCIATED WITH EITHER THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OR "JEWISH AGENCIES" TO EXPLORE THE TWELVE VOLUMES ON THE PAPACY OF PIUS XII. HE PREFERRED A BIGGER INTERNATIONAL GROUP THAT COULD INCLUDE ACADEMIC EXPERTS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES. IN RESPONSE TO THE AMBASSADOR'S QUERY, KASPER SAID A BODY CONSISTING OF EXPERTS FROM CATHOLIC AND JEWISH UNIVERSITIES COULD BE CREATED TO NOMINATE THE ACADEMIC EXPERTS THAT WOULD COMPRISE THE COMMISSION. HE WOULD LOOK FOR MOVEMENT ON THIS ISSUE SOME TIME IN 2002. AS FOR THE ARCHIVES, HE SAID THAT THE VATICAN WOULD SEEK TO SPEED UP THE CATALOGUING OF DOCUMENTS FROM PIUS XII'S PAPACY, BUT HE GAVE NO ASSURANCE THAT THEY WOULD BE ACCESSIBLE BEFORE SOME YEARS HAVE PASSED.


4. (C) KASPER AVERRED THAT THE CRITICISM OF PIUS XII AS PRO-NAZI WAS WITHOUT FOUNDATION, AND THAT THE ARCHIVES WOULD EVENTUALLY BEAR THIS OUT. THERE WAS NO SMOKING GUN. HE POINTED TO THE NEAR-UNANIMOUS PRAISE FROM JEWS (INCLUDING GOLDA MEIR) FOR THE POPE IN THE EARLY POST-WAR YEARS, AND SAID IT WAS ONLY AFTER REVISIONIST HISTORIANS BEGAN PUBLISHING IN THE 1960S THAT THE JEWISH COMMUNITY "BECAME OBSESSED" WITH WHAT PIUS XII DID OR DID NOT DO DURING THE WAR. KASPER, WHO HAD BEEN A CHILD IN NAZI GERMANY, RECALLED THAT DURING THAT TIME THE POPE, FEARING THAT OTHERS WOULD SUFFER REPERCUSSIONS FOR THINGS HE MIGHT SAY, COMMUNICATED SUBTLY BUT CLEARLY HIS OPPOSITION TO NAZISM. KASPER SAID CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 04 VATICA 06619 310931Z "EVERYBODY KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANT." MOREOVER, KASPER SAID, "THE CONVENTS ALL AROUND HERE (ROME) WERE FULL OF JEWS, AT GREAT RISK, EVEN THOUGH THE SS WAS IN THIS VERY BUILDING" (REFERRING TO THE APOSTOLIC PALACE.) HE SAID JEWISH ATTITUDES TOWARD PIUS XII TOOK A NEGATIVE TURN ONLY AFTER THE DEBUT OF THE PLAY "THE DEPUTY" IN THE 1960S.


5. (C) COMMENT: CLEARLY THE VATICAN REMAINS HIGHLY SENSITIVE TO CRITICISM OF PIUS XII, A POPE THEY ARE ACTIVELY SEEKING TO CANONIZE. KASPER SEEMS TO US A REALIST, AND WILL WORK IN GOOD FAITH TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES THAT AROSE OVER THE CATHOLIC-JEWISH COMMISSION. THE ARCHIVE WILL BE A HARD NUT TO CRACK. VATICAN SOURCES CONSISTENTLY TELL US THAT IT WILL REMAIN OFF-LIMITS UNTIL IT IS PROPERLY CATALOGUED. TO ARGUMENTS THAT THE USG HAS DECLASSIFIED A MILLION PAGES OF RELEVANT HOLOCAUST ERA DOCUMENTS, THEY RESPOND THAT THEY DID THAT AND MORE WHEN THE JESUITS PUBLISHED THE TWELVE VOLUME SERIES CULLED FROM THE PIUS XII ARCHIVE. TO THEM, TO ASK MORE NOW IS UNREASONABLE. NICHOLSON


CONFIDENTIAL


2001VATICA06619 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

Cardinal Walter Kaspar

Pius XII and Wikileaks 1

On Tuesday 21 December 2010 the Guardian newspaper in the UK published a series of articles related to the United States, Pius XII and the Vatican.  The articles were a part of an ongoing publication of material published on the Wikileaks website.

Wikileaks, the organisation founded by Australian-born Julian Assange, is a self-appointed "watch dog" group. In their own words "WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth."

There are four US embassy documents relevant to Pope Pius XII. They are reproduced here, and over the next three post, as I found them on the internet.  While none of the issues discussed change the direction of my thinking about Pius, it does point to the great sensitivity within the Vatican over the war-time pope and the angst caused by the lack of access to the archives.  In particular, if the Vatican is so certain that all the major questions about Pius are resolved, why did they withdraw from the Holocaust education task force in late 2009?  Surely, part of the responsibility of sound education is openness to alternative interpretations of text, contexts and circumstances, using archival material and the deliberations of scholars.  It does cause me to wonder what on earth is making Rome so anxious.  I suspect part of the problem lies in the Vatican's very limited expertise in public relations, a problem not only limited to archives.

1.  13 August 2001




US embassy cables: Vatican archivist objects to media portrayal as 'the German Jesuit'


Monday, 13 August 2001, 11:46


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 004258


SIPDIS


DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENNUTI), EUR/OHI


FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 134/01


EO 12958 DECL: 08/10/06


TAGS PREL, PHUM, KNAR, PHUM, KNAR, VT.PREL, VT.


SUBJECT: VATICAN ARCHIVES Q "THE REAL STORY"


CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 02 VATICA 04258 01 OF 02 131205Z REF: STATE 137397


CLASSIFIED BY A/DCM GEORGE FROWICK, REASON E.O. 12958 (B,D).


1. (C) A/DCM AND POLITICAL ASSISTANT MET WITH JESUIT FATHER PETER GUMPEL AUGUST 10 AT HIS OFFICES IN THE JESUIT CURIA TO DISCUSS THE TECHNICAL ISSUES INVOLVED IN OPENING THE VATICAN ARCHIVES. (NOTE: THIS WAS A PREVIOUSLY ARRANGED MEETING, I.E. BEFORE WE RECEIVED REFTEL. WE NEVERTHELESS DELIVERED SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME SET OF POINTS, FOCUSING ON THE USG'S INTEREST IN PROMOTING A POSITIVE, PRODUCTIVE DIALOGUE, AND QUICKLY, AS THE HOLOCAUST GENERATION IS PASSING. END NOTE.) GUMPEL IMMEDIATELY ADVISED THAT THE ISSUE OF ACCESS TO THE VATICAN ARCHIVES RELATED TO THE WORLD WAR II ERA WAS SIMPLY AN INTERNAL MATTER OF PROCEDURE AND NOT A POLITICAL ONE. XXXXXXXXXXXX HE ASSURED US THAT HE WAS A JUDGE FOR MATERIAL USED IN THE PROCESS TO DECLARE PIUS XII A SAINT AND NOT THE PROMOTER OF THE CAUSE FOR SAINTHOOD.


-----------------------


THE "TECHNICAL" PROCESS CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 03 VATICA 04258 01 OF 02 131205Z


-----------------------


2. (C) WHEN PRESSED, GUMPEL, WITH SCHOLARLY PRECISION, EXPLAINED THE TECHNICAL PROCEDURES FOR ACCESS TO THE VATICAN ARCHIVES. THE MOST RECENT MATERIAL RELEASED FOR SCHOLARLY SCRUTINY GOES BACK FIVE PONTIFICATES. MATERIAL RELATED TO THE REIGN OF BENEDICT XV (1914-1922) HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AND CATALOGUED AND IS AVAILABLE TO RESEARCHERS. CLASSIFICATION AND CATALOGUING OF DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE PONTIFICATE OF PIUS XI (1922-1939) WILL BE COMPLETED IN 2009 AT THE LATEST. GUMPEL SAID HE HOPES FOR AN EARLIER COMPLETION DATE. (NOTE. THE PIUS XI DOCUMENTS WILL CONTAIN MATERIAL RELATED TO PIUS XII WHEN, AS CARDINAL EUGENIO PACELLI, HE WAS PIUS XI'S SECRETARY OF STATE Q PM EQUIVALENT - FROM 1930 UNTIL 1939.


SIPDIS END NOTE). WORK TO CLASSIFY AND CATALOGUE MATERIAL RELATED TO POPE PIUS XII (1939-1958) WOULD NORMALLY COMMENCE IN 2009. GUMPEL POINTED OUT THAT FOUR JESUITS HAD BEEN GIVEN ACCESS TO THE LITERALLY MILLIONS OF DOCUMENTS AND HAD SPENT 17 YEARS (1964-1981) SORTING OUT ALL/ALL THE DIPLOMATIC MATERIAL RELATING TO PIUS XII'S ACTIVITY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. THESE WERE THE PAPERS PUBLISHED IN THE 12 VOLUMES TO HAVE BEEN REVIEWED BY THE COMMISSION. (COMMENT: IT IS POST'S UNDERSTANDING THAT IT CURRENTLY IS LOGISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO OPEN UP THE VATICAN ARCHIVES RELATED TO PIUS XII'S ACTIVITIES DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. GUMPEL SAID IT CONSISTS OF SEVERAL HUNDRED BOXES (THROUGH WHICH THE JESUITS WENT PAPER-BY-PAPER EXTRACTING ALL DIPLOMATIC DOCUMENTS FOR REVIEW) AND MILLIONS OF SHEETS OF PAPER. MANY OF THESE ARE PASTORAL DOCUMENTS (LETTERS TO PRIESTS, ETC) THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HOLOCAUST, BUT WHICH COULD PROVE EMBARRASSING TO LIVING PEOPLE. IT TOOK FOUR HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 04 VATICA 04258 01 OF 02 131205Z MOTIVATED, INTELLIGENT, MULTILINGUAL JESUITS 17 YEARS TO SORT THROUGH AND PUBLISH THE MATERIAL. END COMMENT.) THE VATICAN INSISTS THE OTHER DOCUMENTS WILL BE OPEN TO SCRUTINY ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED AND CATALOGUED AND NOT BEFORE. TWO ARCHIVISTS STAFF THE VATICAN ARCHIVE. GUMPEL ADMITTED THAT THIS WAS INADEQUATE AND THAT HE HAS REQUESTED AN INCREASE IN PERSONNEL PRECISELY TO SPEED US THE PROCESS. GUMPEL INFORMED US THAT THIS ARCHIVAL PROCEDURE HAD BEEN CLEARLY EXPLAINED TO THE SCHOLARS ON THE COMMISSION OVER THE COURSE OF MANY CONVERSATIONS.


-----------------------------------


ACRIMONY FROM THE COMMISSION'S WORK


-----------------------------------


3. (C) GUMPEL RECOUNTED AN OCTOBER 2000 MEETING HE HAD BEEN ASKED TO ATTEND WITH MEMBERS OF THE JEWISH-VATICAN COMMISSION STUDYING PIUS XII'S ROLE IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR. THE MEETING WAS TAPE-RECORDED WITH THE CONSENT OF ALL THOSE PRESENT. XXXXXXXXXXXX NONE OF THE COMMISSION MEMBERS HAD READ ALL THE PUBLISHED DOCUMENTS, AND MOST WERE NOT ABLE TO READ THE DOCUMENTS IN THE ORIGINAL ITALIAN AND HAD TO RELY ON TRANSLATED SUMMARIES. GUMPEL NOTED THAT FROM A SCHOLARLY PERSPECTIVE, THIS SITUATION WAS "LESS THAN IDEAL." THE COMMISSION'S REPORT, WHICH CONSISTED OF 46 COMPLEX QUESTIONS, GUMPEL HAD PREPARED TO ANSWER. HE WORKED


CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 05 VATICA 04258 01 OF 02 131205Z


CONFIDENTIAL


CONFIDENTIAL PTQ0646


PAGE 01 VATICA 04258 02 OF 02 131206Z ACTION EUR-00


INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DS-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 VCE-00 NSAE-00 SNIS-00 NISC-00 DSCC-00 LBA-00 PRM-01 DRL-02 SAS-00 /003W ------------------115973 131213Z /38 R 131146Z AUG 01 FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0000 INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 004258


SIPDIS


DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENNUTI), EUR/OHI


FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 134/01


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/06 TAGS: PREL, PHUM, KNAR, VT. SUBJECT: VATICAN ARCHIVES Q "THE REAL STORY"


UP A SERIES OF HISTORICAL DOSSIERS, INCLUDING PRIMARY DOCUMENTS. XXXXXXXXXXXX THOSE SAME VATICAN OFFICIALS, HE SAID, EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR FR. GUMPEL'S ACUTE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SITUATION AND HIS SCIENTIFIC PROFESSIONALISM. GUMPEL MADE IT CLEAR TO A/DCM THAT EVEN POPE JOHN PAUL II IS AWARE OF THE SITUATION.


-------------------------


I AM A GERMAN, NOT A NAZI


-------------------------


4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX GUMPEL ALSO EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT REFERENCES IN THE MEDIA AND IN OTHER COMMENTS TO HIM AS THE "GERMAN JESUIT." GUMPEL TOLD A/DCM THAT HIS FAMILY HAD BEEN VICTIMS OF NAZI PERSECUTION AND SEVERAL HAD BEEN KILLED BY THE NAZIS. HE HIMSELF HAD TO FLEE NAZI GERMANY AS A REFUGEE, FIRST TO FRANCE AND THEN LATER TO HOLLAND. HE RECALLED THAT AT ONE POINT A REPORTER HAD PLANNED TO PRINT AN ASSERTION THAT GUMPEL WAS A NAZI HIMSELF -- SOMETHING GUMPEL SAID WAS LIBELOUS, AND WHICH HE WAS MORE THAN WILLING TO GO TO COURT TO FIGHT.


5. (C) GUMPEL SAID HE WAS NOT SURPRISED WHEN THE JEWISH- VATICAN COMMISSION DECIDED TO SUSPEND ITS WORK. XXXXXXXXXXXX HE CLOSED BY SAYING THAT THE VATICAN WANTS TO LET PASS A PERIOD OF TIME BEFORE REOPENING THIS DISCUSSION. HE SAID THAT THE VATICAN AND HE HIMSELF WERE MORE THAN WILLING TO DISCUSS ANY ANOMALIES OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE 12-VOLUME HISTORY ALREADY PUBLISHED. THEY JUST DIDN'T THINK THAT THE JUST-DISBANDED COMMISSION CONSISTED OF THE RIGHT MIX OF PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO DO SO. MERANTE


CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 04 VATICA 04258 02 OF 02 131206Z


CONFIDENTIAL



2001VATICA04258 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL




Fr Peter Gumpel SJ

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Congratulations Professor Coppa.

I am a little late getting these congratulations out.  Professor Frank Coppa, a well known Catholic historian and expert on the modern papacy has recently been honoured with a Lifetime Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Catholic Historical Association.


The press release follows:

The American Catholic Historical Association confers its Lifetime Distinguished Scholarship Award to Professor Frank J. Coppa of St. John’s University in New York. Dr. Coppa, recently retired, has emerged as a highly respected historian of the modern papacy. His biographies of Blessed Pius IX and Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli were the first to take advantage of the then recently opened papers of Pio Nono’s long pontificate. He has also written extensively on some of the more controversial aspects of the modern papacy, including The Papacy, The Jews and The Holocaust. He is at work on a history of the diplomacy of Pope Pius XII which will be a major contribution to a very lively public debate over the Pacelli years in Rome.


Dr. Coppa, in the words of one of his colleagues, has had a career of “extraordinary productivity of the first order and has significantly expanded our understand of Catholic history.” He is a role model for historians of the Catholic church and a faithful and active member of the ACHA. We are proud to confer this first Lifetime Scholarship award on him at our annual banquet held this year in Boston on January 8, 2011.

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