Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Light on Pius XII Cause? Not from this article ...

The National Catholic Register, not to be confused with the National Catholic Reporter, is a conservative Catholic media formerly owned by the Legion of Christ, but now operated by the Eternal Word Television Network founded by the famous, cloistered, Franciscan nun, Mother Angelica.  It enjoys considerable popular support among more traditionalist Catholics.  Its style is unapologetically "pro-Pope Benedict XVI" and a more defensive approach to Catholicism under the guise of apologetics. 

This article by news editor, John Burger, is interesting.  The title suggests that there is new evidence about Pius XII and the advancement of his cause for canonisation as a saint of the Catholic Church. What piqued my interest was the reference to Enrico Galeazzi about whom I in October 2010.   Reading Burger's article I ws surprised that there is nothing new, which is why, I suppose, he put a question mark in the heading. 

Overall, it is an interview which really adds nothing to what is already known, except for what I think is a bit of "spin" from  Agostino Corbanese from the Vatican Secretariat of State.  As far as I could tell from the entries for the Diocese of Rome, Corbanese is not involved in archival work.  If he is, it would be useful to know which one, and what his qualifications are.  Corbanese mentions opened archives.  It would be helpful to know exactly which archives he is referring to.  Certainly they are not the archives for Pius XII. 

I found his references to Jewish opposition to the proposed canonisation process of Pius XII to be irksome.  He conveniently ignores the considerable Catholic opposition to the process.

This article is, sadly, typical of the unreflective and ahistorical approach of a small segment of Catholic apologists who argue for Pius XII without solid historical and contextual approaches.  The Galeazzi aspect is interesting, but as I observed last October, it was ultimately fruitless.  It did raise the vexing "what if" question, that if Pius could send a layman to Washington to appeal for Rome, could he have not done so for the Jews of his own city?

Pius XII and Enrico Galeazzi, Rome, post-1945

This is Burger's article:

I will be posting an interview this weekend with the archeologist at St. Peter’s Basilica necropolis, Pietro Zander. He was at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Conn., last week for the opening of an exhibit of Marian images from the Vatican.

Zander graciously gave me a personal tour through the exhibit and explained the significance of some of the paintings. He also talked a bit about his role in the beatification ceremonies for Blessed John Paul II a few days earlier.

Translating for us was Count Enrico Demajo, who heads the Knights of Columbus office in Rome. Count Demajo’s uncle was Count Enrico Galeazzi, an architect who was both the Knights’ representative in Rome and acting governor of Vatican City during World War II. Galeazzi was a friend of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII and whose cause for canonization has been hampered by continuing controversy over his alleged inaction in protecting European Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.

Accompanying Zander and Demajo to New Haven was Salesian Father Agostino Corbanese, who oversees an archive of the Vatican Secretariat of State. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, asked Father Corbanese to inspect the Knights’ New Haven archives of Count Galeazzi’s papers.

I sat down for a few minutes with Father Corbanese, and we discussed what the Galeazzi papers might reveal about Pius XII and the controversy over his cause.

What brings you to New Haven?

The superiors in the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Bertone and the sostituto [assistant Secretary of State] … asked me to come and see, especially from the point of view if, due to the closeness of Count Galeazzi with, at the time, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII, and they had close links of friendship, just to see whether there were documents, hand-written documents, or documents of any kind, coming from the desk of Cardinal Pacelli, or Pope Pius XII. And I went through all this material.

What did you find?

I found, interestingly enough, due to the difficulties of the time…Count Galeazzi was asked to bring with him a letter signed by Pope Pius XII addressed to President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt. We were more or less at the end of the war, and diplomatic channels were difficult to follow, and so on. And since Count Galeazzi was a man to whom Pope Pius XII gave much relevance and attention, he was asked to do that. ...

[The letter, which asked for a halt to the Allied bombing of Rome, was not delivered because the Italian government signed an agreement with the Allies while Galeazzi was on his way to Washington.]

Count Galeazzi died [in 1986], and the heirs — Enrico Demajo and, I suppose, the family — gave all this material to the Knights of Columbus, and they went through a tremendous amount of work in ordering all this material. Let’s say that 90%, 80% of the material there are plans, reports on what Count Galeazzi did. He was the engineer, he was the man responsible for building and restoration of the papal palace. He was in charge of a special commission created by the newly-elected Pope Pius XII to look after the maintenance and restoration of the buildings. The buildings are so old that they need continuous care. So, many of his papers are requests for restoration, how restoration was carried on, what the expenses were, what colleagues were involved in these works of the restoration, and this has nothing to do with the life of the Pope himself.

One letter carried the signature of Pope Pius XII, and it was a permit, an invitation to authorities of one country in Europe, to let Count Galeazzi go through, deliver what he had to deliver, and come back with something he was supposed to collect and bring it to Rome. So, it was a visa — let’s call it that.

What was it that he had to deliver?

The little card, bearing the autographed signature of Pope Pius XII, the size of an ordinary postcard, carried no indication whatsoever about the identification of what the envoy was supposed to carry with him through the boundaries of the neighbouring country, in the terrible and frightening wartime in Europe.

Was there anything that you discovered here that might have some bearing on the cause of beatification of Pope Pius XII?

Yes. I know that the archives have been opened and will continue to be opened. The material may be of this kind: reports sent to Count Galeazzi from various people — articles, commentaries — not many — picking up criticisms, explaining situations, backgrounds, problems. They may be useful. There are a few hints to what the Pope did to help the Jews in Rome and in Europe, but, as I said, the purpose of the archives and the purpose of the collection of these papers by Count Galeazzi was not to make a study of that particular…he received letters to bring them to the attention of the Secretariat of State, and some of these letters had this kind of content. A number of these letters were typed — as they used to do in those times — in two or three different copies, carbon copies. Of course the original is not here because the original was meant to go to the pope’s office or the cardinal’s office, wherever. But they kept the copy. And they may be of some interest.

You have here in the States Sister Margherita Marchione, and she came, I was told by the archivist. The archivist told me unfortunately she remained only one day. ... And some of these materials were, can be, or will be, useful to her, because she continues to study and to present, to understand where these criticisms against Pius XII originated: where they came from, why, who picked them up for granted. That is her particular idea. That is her enterprise, and she wrote piles of books, collecting material, demonstrating that what was brought about like a flag — Pius XII didn’t do enough, he did too little, he kept silent, things like that — they’re not true because she goes on discovering witnesses and testimonies. So this material can be related to this kind of study she continues to carry on.

What is holding up the cause? Is there any movement on it?

I think that while the cause is going on, Pope Pius XII has already been proclaimed a venerable — meaning that his life, what he did, his attitudes, are ones of a real strong Christian — the virtues as they say have been studied and approved….There are some miracles being studied at the moment.

One of the major difficulties is the opposition against Pius XII from a number of Jewish groups, individual people, associations, who are still imbued with that kind of criticism: Pope Pius XII didn’t do enough, he kept silent, he didn’t defend the Jews. When Pope John Paul II approved the venerability of Pius XII there was a turmoil among the Jews. I personally think that that is not the case. You can do things at home, in your house. You cannot put your nose in what other people do. I cannot come and study and pass judgment on what you do.

So Jews, with all due respect the Catholic Church has towards them, have no right to stand up and say You must not proclaim Pius XII a blessed. What is the point? You’re not within your compound, you’re not within your house. You’re not at home.

Besides this, as I mentioned, is the fact of concretely, deeply, with serenity, with capacity, historical understanding, study the material, and of course the material dealing with the Second World War is as immense as the world is.

So I think any time, for any reason around the world, there is a discussion you have to take the points and calmly, nicely, with strength you have to analyze them, you have to come to a conclusion. You cannot say yes or no from the very beginning.

Especially since this seems to have stemmed from this play by Rolf Hochhuth, and who knows that that was not a smear campaign begun by the communists.

It would be extremely useful to go back to one of the latest books by Sister Margarita…. She maintains that, let’s call it, the “enemy” of Pius XII was the communist regime. Some people used to say that it was the Germans. She maintains it was not the Germans who put their loud voices and criticisms; it was the communists, it was Moscow — Moscow which tried to demolish the figure and authority of Pius XII, which was taken up by plays, by writers, media agencies and so on, for granted. Now Sister Margarita has clearly indicated that historical line of the Russians being behind the scenes because they saw in Pius XII the great enemy of the expansion of their power all over the world.

And, according to George Weigel, they tried to do the same with Pope John Paul II.

Exactly. Things keep repeating.


  1. Hi Paul,
    This is not a comment on this particular post. I don't have your email address, so this is the only way I could think of communicating with you. Just wanted to alert you to some interesting news via David Schutz. Here it is:
    British, US Document Unearthed
    ROME, MAY 17, 2011 ( The United States and Great Britain discouraged Pope Pius XII from speaking out against Nazi brutality, warning the Pope that a public protest could have grave consequences.
    The Allies' recommendation is reported in a document unearthed recently by the New York-based Pave the Way Foundation, founded by an American Jew, Gary Krupp.

    Krupp asserted that these revelations help to give context for the way in which Pius XII handled the Nazi horror.

    The document is correspondence between the British representative to the Holy See, Sir D'Arcy Osborne, and Myron Taylor, his U.S. counterpart.

    A Nov. 7, 1944, note signed by Taylor's assistant, Franklin C. Gowen, reports to Taylor that Osborne "called and said that he feared the Holy Father may make Radio appeal on behalf of Jews in Hungary and that in his appeal he may also criticise what the Russians are doing in occupied territory."

    "Sir D'Arcy said something should be done to prevail upon the Pope not to do this," the note added, "as it would have very serious political repercussions."

    Krupp showed ZENIT another note between the envoys' offices that references a letter about help for Jewish refugees. The note "clearly states that the letter must be destroyed in order to prevent it from falling into enemy hands," Krupp said.

    Osborne wrote the May 20, 1944, note to Harold Tittman, another of Taylor's assistants.

    The British representative tells the U.S. envoy's assistant that he will destroy the letter, saying that if it were to fall into enemy hands it would incriminate a priest called Father Benedetto.

    Krupp observed that the destruction of documents was necessarily common during the war. "There are some critics who do not seem to understand that this is why so many written orders also had to be destroyed," Krupp noted.

    There's more ...
    Send me your email address, Paul, and I'll post you the rest.

    Comment posted by Charles Fivaz (

  2. I don't think Pope Pius XII should be canonized until his papacy has been thoroughly analyzed. Being declared a VENERABLE is not the same as being declared a Saint. He WAS venerable in many ways. He was a brilliant scripture scholar, a brilliant biblicist, a brilliant analyst of Catholic doctrinal history and coherence vis-a-vis scriptural and patristic (preNicene) evidence, and a brilliant, deeply devoted defender of the divinely-given perogatives of Mary the Mother of Christ. He was gentle and a man of prayer. Personally, he hated Nazi-ism and regarded it, and had called it such in the past, a "pagan Race and Blood Cult," intending that disparagingly. But an actual SAINT? Venerable is ONE level of Goodness. SAINTHOOD is much higher. Even a "blessed" is not a Saint yet. A person is canonized a SAINAT after it is demonstrated that, under his circumstances, he (or she) lived an orthodox life OF **HEROIC** Sanctity and Virtue and wisdom.
    Pius was a theologian propelled into position of a head of STATE (as well as of a church) during a time of very great EVIL. He was clearly not prepared to deal effectively with this evil, as some of the evildoers were CATHOLIC churchmen (such as Monsignor Tiso, the Pro-Nazi leader of Slovakia whose nation was the first to deport nonGerman Jews to the Camps. Tiso was hanged by the allies after the war. In Yugoslavia, the USTASHI monsters played on people's Catholicism, as well as their hundreds years long mutual Serbian/Croat animosity and had even priests and nuns supporting their horrific massacres of the Eastern Orthodox Serbians, to the tune, some say, of 1,000,000 people. These USTASHI were 100% -- all of them to a man -- at least NOMINALLY Catholic. I am Catholic and horrified by these facts (even though my faith is not altered or weakened at all).
    The Holy See's rush to beatify CARDINAL STEPINAC without carefully explaining all it's reasons for doing so, was very unwise. Yes, Stepinac had, before their taking power, condemned the Ustashi philosophy publicly, from the Pulpit. But afterwards, with their knife, he knew, always at his throat if he publicly opposed them, Stepinac tried controversial ways of trying to stave off the massacres, instead of out and out publicly excommunicating ANYONE who would not renounce allegiance to the movement. Doing so would have cost him his life, but he was an Archbishop, and one is supposed to, in such a job, be willing to suffer martyrdom. I don't condemn the man, Stepinac, because he knew that a public condemnation of the Ustashi would have also resulted in the killings of thousands of Croat priests, nuns and laity, which he did not want to be responsible for, either. He was TRULY between a rock and a hard place. But he rushed beatification was, I truly feel, unwise. As would be the rushed canonization of Pius XII. We must and should TAKE IT VERY SLOW and examine, carefully, all the facts and all their contexts.
    And I am an orthodox Catholic, 100% pro Pope Benedict XVI and the Magisterium myself.

  3. You offer your opinions without telling us who you are.

  4. Dear Dr Gajewski,

    I have added a CV page to the blog and listed my academic qualifications there.

    My opinions are, I hope, based on historical fact and the available record. One of the reasons I began this blog was to try and bring discussion about Pope Pius XII back to the middle ground away from the extremes of both sides, those who believe that he is a saint and should be recognised as one of the Righteous, and those who believe he is guilty of complicity in the genocide of European Jewry.


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