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Future Pope Pius XII asked bishops to work to save synagogues

July 02, 2010

Two documents discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives reveal that the future Pope Pius XII sought to preserve Jewish culture, according to the Pave the Way Foundation.

On January 9, 1939, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, then the Vatican’s secretary of state, wrote to 60 prelates, “Do not engage in saving only Jewish people but also synagogues, cultural centers, and everything that pertains to their faith: the Torah scrolls, libraries, cultural centers, etc.” The letter was written two months after Kristallnacht, when Nazis destroyed 267 synagogues in Germany and Austria.

The Pave the Way Foundation also uncovered a November 30, 1938 letter to nunciatures, apostolic delegations, and bishops in which Cardinal Pacelli requested 200,000 visas for “non-Aryan Catholics.” Historian Michael Hesemann of the Pave the Way Foundation believes that “non-Aryan Catholics” was actually diplomatic code for Jews in general-- rather than only Jewish converts to Catholicism-- for two reasons:

  • In the letter, Cardinal Pacelli wrote that “care should be taken that sanctuaries are provided to safeguard their spiritual welfare and to protect their religious cult, customs and traditions”-- a directive that makes far more sense if it applied to Jews in general rather than to Jewish converts.
  • Many of the bishops who responded to Cardinal Pacelli said that they were aiding “persecuted Jews.”
  • References:

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    • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 02, 2010 6:36 PM ET USA

      Not that there isn't an overwhelming amount of proof already, but Pius XII's detractors just don't seem to understand that there is a "seamless garment" of consistency in Pius' assistance to the Jews before and during WWII, when he was a pope and when he wasn't. Even the NY Times seemed to like him once!