Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Policies and Politics of Pope Pius XII, Frank Coppa

Frank Coppa's new book, The Policies and Politics of Pope Pius XII (Peter Lang Publishing), arrived last week.  It was a delight to sit down and read what is, in my opinion, a book of the same importance and high standard as Jose Maria Sanchez 2002 work, Pius XII and the Holocaust: Understanding the Controversy (CUA Press)

Coppa provides a well-documented summary of the life of Eugenio Pacelli and his rise in Vatican service drawing heavily on, the now readily available, documentation from Archivio Segreto Vaticano.  As was the case with Sanchez, there are no surprises with Coppa.  For those of us who have been studying the man and the period for more than a few years, the well-trawled document trails, the steady publication of academic and professional books, monographs and conference papers has reached a point where I can only agree with Coppa's final analysis: 

The controversy swirling about Pius XII and his pontificate is no longer primarily due to the lack of sources - many of which have recently been made available with the opening of the papers of Pius XI.  Rather it seems to stem from the commotion of the period, the need to assign responsibility for the atrocities committed during those turbulent years, and on the a priori positions taken by many of the authors in the Pius War.  For many the policies pursued by Pius XII remains controversial and this may have delayed but has not derailed the movement for his canonisation ... It may take years, perhaps decades before the Pius War is brought to an end, and a more objective picture of this Pope achieved.  Hopefully, the present study will serve as a step in that direction. (176)

The book is slim - 177/205 pages of text.  At the end of each of the chapters is a comprehensive set of notes.  The reader is encouraged to read them carefully, Coppa has set up a valuable tool for students and teachers to go further along related lines of interest.

Coppa helps us see Pacelli in the context of his whole life, and particularly in his years working with the diplomatically astute Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, secretary of state to Benedict XV (1914-1922) and Pius XI (1922-1930) where Pacelli learned much in the art of statecraft and dealing with unsavoury characters.  Upon his own appointment as secretary of state in 1930, Pacelli continued in the manner of Gasparri, opting wherever possible for a "public truce" to avoid damaging the Church or her institutions. (119)

Professor Coppa's "big picture" of Pacelli's life leads him to discuss the war years - in chapters 7 and 8 - with a focus on defining "impartiality", "neutrality" and the vexed question of "silence".  In the hands of a lesser able writer, this could be potentially dangerous as the amount of material on the war years is staggering. Coppa is deft and masterful.  He is at pains to make clear what words mean in their contexts and, I believe, he is successful.  By re-visiting the available evidence, he establishes a balanced conclusion about Pius XII's activities during the war, which include his responses to the Holocaust.

The record clearly reveals that Pius XII followed a diplomatic policy vis-a-vis the Nazis, issuing no clear public condemnation of their aggression, expressing no explicit public outrage against their racism which violated Christian principles and culminated in genocide.   Nor did this Pope assign responsibility for provoking the war.  Pius XII defended this decision to those inside and outside the Church time and time again.  he deemed it unwise to denounce the Axis regimes' racist policies publicly, providing them with the pretext to dismantle the Concordats and thereby endangering the institutional Church.  Furthermore, he apparently feared that if it weakened Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, it might aid Soviet Russia or make worse the plight of the people it sought to rescue and prove detrimental and disturbing for German Catholics.  For these among other reasons, he did not issue his predecessor's encyclical denouncing anti-Semitism and alerting the faithful to the sin of racism, fearing the diplomatic problems its assurance would undoubtedly unleash.  These same concerns prevented the Pope form explicitly denouncing the Nazi aggression and genocide he vehemently opposed.  Only at war's end did Pius XII formally and publicly condemn Nazism. (145)

One of the strengths of Coppa's book is its dispassionate tone and fidelity to a balanced interpretation of the available material.  In a similar manner to Sanchez, Coppa leaves it to the reader to come to their own conclusions.  I do not agree with some of the Professor Coppa's conclusions, but I am indebted to him for the wealth of substance in his arguments that make them so compelling.  I find it hard to reconcile the obligations of the papal office as understood by Pius XII, in particular, speaking the truth in the face of evil, with his determination to pursue a diplomatic path that was, at least as I see it, so incapable of dealing with escalating horrors that cried out for a public word from the only person in Europe or the world with the moral authority to do so.  Nonetheless, Coppa has challenged me to keep at the sources and keep reading.  And so I will do.

I was honoured to note that Coppa considered my own work worthy of reference at several points in his own work.  I accept the criticisms - especially on the 1938 unpublished encyclical - and the praise with thanks.  On one point thought, I do take issue. 

In the last chapter of my book I conclude my study of the question of Pius XII's responsibility for his actions during the Holocaust with the observation that the Pope did not act alone nor can he be seen as acting alone.  He is a part of the Universal Church - not apart from it.  He has a role of leadership that sets him apart from other believers in the execution of that role, but it does not excuse or exclude him from the obligations of the faith incumbent on all Catholics. I spend time looking at the role of anti-Judaism or Judeophobia throughout my work and what I believe the impact of this "longest hatred" had on Catholic thought and practice.  Pius XII was not immune to it.  I believe that the good Pius did along with the good that was not done is shared by the whole Church, and not only the Pope. 

Coppa writes: 

Elsewhere in the volume O'Shea indicates that factors other than anti-Judaism influenced the course Pius XII pursued during the Holocaust,  Indeed he writes that the reason this Pope did not say more was not because he did not care for the victims - which would exclude both anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism - but because he had other priorities: mainly his obligation to defend the Church and Catholicism, and his perception of the Soviet Union as a greater threat than Nazi Germany ... However, he returns to the role of anti-Judaism within the Church as an underlying cause of papal silence in his ninth and concluding chapter "Blessed Eugenio?" which blames the entire Church, not only the Vicar of Christ for the policies pursued during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. (168)

This is what I wrote:

Pius XII was brought low, not in his lifetime, but by history - a patchy and often speculative history that more often than not followed political and religious agendas than a passion for the truth.  The fatal flaw lay in the centuries-old fear and hatred of Jews and Judaism.  Combined with the currents of racist theories and practices that bubbled throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and which had permeated much of the Church, Jews were the ever-present "lesser victims".  If Pius XII committed a sin with regard to the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust, it was the sin of consistency in thought, word and deed.  And if Pius is guilty of that, he does not stand alone.  The sins of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust must rest upon the whole Church, not only the Vicar of Christ, just as the deeds of the righteous must be shared by the whole Church, including the Vicar of Christ.
(2008 edition, p334; 2011 edition p224)

Throughout the book there a number of typographical errors, such as the reference to Innocent III in 1721 (113) but these do not detract from what is a "good read". 

Professor Frank J Coppa

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ADSS 8.184 Burzio to Maglione - news from Russia

One of the common question asked by students is "when did the Pope know about the murder of the Jews in the East?"  The simple answer is "about roughly the same time Churchill did", which is in the mid-summer of 1941 when Bletchley Park decoded hundreds of radio transmissions from the Einsatzgruppen as they sent their daily tallies to Berlin.  In October, from Bratislava, Giuseppe Burzio had heard reports of significant killings occurring in Russia.  He had been asked by Cardinal Maglione if concentration camps were to be opened in Slovakia and he had replied that plans had been made but then abandoned.  What he did know was that according to military chaplains travelling with Slovakian soldiers in Russia, Jews were being "systematically eliminated".

In a margin note on Burzio's report, Domenico Tardini, responsible for the Vatican's equivalent of the Foreign Office, queried if the murders were committed by Catholic Slovaks or Germans?  Jews were being killed, but by whom?  Within four months Burzio began to send reports of the impending deportation of the Slovakian Jews.

Running concurrently with the reports from Burzio to Maglione were Maglione's diplomatic exchanges with the Slovakian minister to the Holy See, Karel Sidor.  I will post more on this later.

ADSS 8.185.
Reference: Rap nr 624 (AES 9257/41, orig)

Location and date: Pressburg (Bratislava) 27.10.1941
Summary statement: Information concerning the inhuman treatment of non-Aryan POWs in Russia.
Language: Italian


Only a few days ago I was honoured to receive the dispatch Nr 40079 of 18 August 1941 and I hasten to inform Your Eminence that the territory of this republic does not currently have concentration camps for prisoners of war or refugees.

At the beginning of hostilities against Russia, the Military Vicar, Bishop [Michael] Buzalka (1885-1962) advised me that there was a project organised to build a prison camp near the eastern border of Slovakia, but that has not been carried out. The same bishop, having received new information from the military, assures me that for now, that will be no prisoners of war concentrated in Slovakia. From information received from his chaplains, Ukrainian and White Russian prisoners are routinely returned to their homes. The Jews are certainly shot (it is stated the Jewish civilians are systematically eliminated, regardless of sex and age) and only the Russian and Asian prisoners have been sent to concentration camps.

If, in the future, prisoners or refugees are brought to this territory, I will certainly inform Your Eminence and comply with your instructions.

Notes of Domenico Tardini:

Is it Catholic Slovaks who commit these crimes or are they Germans? And why has Mons Burzio not explained this in a specific way?

Office Note:
Account received with n 9610/41 asking for clarification about the inhumane treatment of military prisoners and Jewish civilian prisoners.

Cross references:

See ADSS 8.301. Burzio to Maglione, 11.03.1942.

ADSS 8.199 Maglione to Slovak Minister, Karel Sidor

Continuing the Vatican-Slovakian document series.

Having received the reports from Guiseppe Burzio, Apostolic Delegate in Bratislava, and the letter of the Slovak Bishops addressed to President Tiso, Cardinal Maglione wrote a formal note to the Slovak minister to the Holy See, Karel Sidor (1901-1953).  This note, written on 12 November 1941, came five weeks after the Slovak Bishops had written to Tiso, and nearly two months after the promulgation of the Jewish Code in Slovakia.

Maglione treads a careful line.  He objects, as expected, to articles of the Code that directly infringe upon the rights of the Church - marriage and Catholic education; but he extends his, and by implication, the Pope's concern towards a wider group.  The Secretary of State deplores the loss of social, economic and moral rights of the Catholics of Jewish origins, but it could be argued that the way the text is written, a complaint about the treatment of all Jews could be "read into" the text.  I admit this is drawing a rather "long bow" given the general Vatican diplomatic role of sticking to the parameters when negotiating with "difficult" governments. 

The Slovak Minister, Karel Sidor, was a known antisemite.  He was a commander in the Hlinka Guard.  At the end of the war he was tried in absentia by the new Czech government in 1947 and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.  Sidor fled to Canada in 1949 apparently, with the help of Pius XII.  He died there in 1953.

Karel Sidor

ADSS 8.199
Reference: AES 8355/41, minute

Location and date: Vatican City, 12.11.1941
Summary statement: Objections to the race laws in Slovakia
Language: Italian


The undersigned Secretary of State has the honour to communicate to His Excellency the Slovakian minister the following:

With great sorrow, the Holy See has learned that even in Slovakia, a country where nearly the entire population honours the great Catholic tradition, has, on 9 September, published a Governmental Order, which established a special “racial legislation” containing a number of measures in sharp contrast with Catholic principles.

In fact, the Church universal by the will of her Divine Founder, welcomes in her womb peoples of any race, and shows maternal concern for all humanity, to awaken and develop among all people feelings of brotherhood and love, according to the explicit and categorical teaching of the Gospel.

Firstly, in this universal character of the Church and her teaching, Article 9 of the Ordinance which prohibits marriages between Jews and non-Jews as well as between Jews and “mixed” Jews, opposed.

On this important issue, the doctrine of the Church and the resulting canonical practices are known.

The Church forbade marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics in order to protect their children from losing the priceless gift of faith, but it has, and will continue to keep intact the right to dispense from the mentioned prohibition, when that exemption is claimed by compelling demands of conscience. In practice the Church allows such marriages only in very rare cases, for serious reasons and always with well-defined conditions and with the providing of solid guarantees.

But when it comes to two Catholics, free from canonical impediments, albeit of a different race, the Church would not object to the marriage without failing in her sanctifying mission and violating higher divine laws. The Church would not fail to advise against marriage between people from diverse races, in view of the damage to which the children may be exposed.

Faced with the principles mentioned above, Article 9 is inconsistent with Catholic teaching, because it prohibits in absolute and general terms, marriages between Jews and non-Jews.

Further, Article 38 excludes young people, designated as Jews, even if they are Catholics, from any study in all schools and institutions, except primary schools and courses especially designed for them.

It is evident in this way, the Church is impeded from exercising one of the most important and sacred rights – the education of Catholic youth, and is obstructed in her apostolic work.

Moreover, such a measure can not but be a matter of grace concern for the Church, because so many of her Faithful are in danger of losing their faith and be less solemnly committed before God.

Nor can the Holy See be indifferent to the plight of her children of Jewish origin, as a result of these and other burdensome provisions of this Ordinance. They are indeed deprived of many rights and segregated from other citizens, against whom they find themselves in a state of great moral, social and economic inferiority that forces them to act heroically in order to remain loyal subjects of the Church and to lead some, perhaps, in extreme necessity.

The Holy See, then, considers that the provisions of Article 33 about Jewish participation in public meetings, does not prohibit Catholics of Jewish origin to take part in religious events: they would not require therefore, a reassuring and official declaration about that proposition.

The under-signed Cardinal Secretary of State, recognising the painful necessity of calling the attention of the Slovak minister to the considerations set about above, is confident that the Slovak Government will not fail to appropriately modify the wording of the Ordinance, so as to remove any conflict with Catholic principles.

In this regard it was noted with satisfaction that even now Article 255, has laid down rules which, while far from dispelling the apprehensions of the Holy See, attest to the Slovak Government’s proposition to mitigate the rigour of the implementation of the enacted measures.

Therefore the Holy See is confident that the Slovak Government will interpret and apply the provisions of the Ordinance in such a way to make them acceptable and not harmful to Catholic consciences, until such time as the Ordinance is revoked or altered.

Cross references:

Refer to ADSS 8.153, 173.

The minister replied 23.05.1942 – ADSS 8.383 – deportations to Poland had already begun in March 1942.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ADSS 8.173 Slovakian Bishops response to the Jewish Code

This is the memorandum sent by the Slovak bishops to President Tiso on 7 October 1941 outlining their concerns at the so-called "Jewish Code" that was promulgated in September of the same year.  Not surprisingly, the bishops' priority is the well-being of Catholics of Jewish descent and recent converts.  Reading the text carefully, one can discern a clear condemnation of the philosophical basis of the Code.   The bishops condemn a "materialistic racism" that denies the Judeo-Christian teaching of the fundamental equality of all humanity.  In the context of the time, it was, perhaps, the best the bishops could agree upon.  Nonetheless, it was a protest, and by comparison to other places in Europe at the time, it was better than most.

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 8.173

Reference: Rap nr 607 (AES 8423/41, orig)
Location and date: Pressburg (Bratislava) 15.10.1941
Summary statement: Memorandum of the Slovak bishops on the subject of the state race laws.
Language: Italian

In response to my previous report n 577 of 18 September 1941 (1), I hasten to send your eminence a translation of the memorandum the Slovak bishops, who met in conference in Bratislava on 7 October 1941, presented to the President of the Republic and the head of the Government, concerning the so-called “Jewish Code”.

Attachment: The Bishops of Slovakia to President Tiso.

From the happy moment of the proclamation of the independence of the Slovakian state, the Catholic bishops of Slovakia have received with great satisfaction the declarations of the highest representatives of the State, that the building of our political life will occur in the spirit of the Slovak and Christian tradition, based on natural law, in the great spirit of the Gospel according to Christian doctrine and Christian morality. With the full weight of their position and their beneficial influence the Slovak bishops and the Catholic clergy have effectively supported the work of construction of the new independent political life, even joyfully meeting the desires of the Government in matters of supreme importance for the national and religious life, for example in the new regulations for primary schools.

In the spirit of sincere cooperation, with mutual respect for the rights of both parties, and in their mutual support for the temporal and eternal happiness of the flock entrusted to them, the Catholic bishops of Slovakia wish for the future to solve all problems which directly or indirectly affect the mission and expansion of the Church, her work and concern for the good of the Faithful.

Moved by this spirit of mutual cooperation and mutual respect, the Slovakian Catholic bishops raise their voice in favour of those people, and those Catholic families who were affected by the requirements of the Ordinance Number 198/1941, the Jewish Code of 9 September 1941. We must point out that we are concerned with that regulation only from an ecclesiastical point of view, since it refers to some thousands of the Faithful, and so we fulfil our duty and the imperative of our consciences, as we raise our voice in the interest of religious, moral, social, and family life of the Faithful entrusted to us who have been effected by the provisions of the aforementioned regulation n 198/1941 Jewish Code.

The seriousness of the issue and our responsibility has led us to have the government regulation studied by experts in Catholic dogma, morals, law and sociology. Considered in the light of the principles of the doctrine of the Church, we find the following serious and dangerous faults (errors).

1. It does not escape careful observation of an examiner, that the philosophical conception (svetonáhl’ad – Weltanschauung [World View]) from which this regulation was constructed, is the so-called ideology of racism. According to this concept of race, the fundamental factor is the physical (corporal), without excluding however, the spiritual, cultural, legal, philosophical and even religious fact. We do not intend to enumerate here all the dangerous errors, which hide in this doctrine, and which have been reported not very long ago by the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries in the letter of 15 April 1938 (2). We only wish to recall that the materialist theory of racism is in direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church, which holds the common origin of al men by a single Creator and Father, and on the essential equality of man before God pronounced especially by the Apostle to the Gentiles, on the common supernatural destiny of all men which proceeds from the universal salvific will of God’s redemptive work in Christ.

This is not to affirm that all the proclamations in the so-called “Jewish Code” lead to errors: the order quoted did not have a doctrinal (theoretical) character, but a practical one. But precisely because the materialistic point of view of racist theory is the basis of the entire regulation, its practical consequences unjustly affect innocent people whom the Church considers its members with full rights.

Being a Christian is not a privilege of one race or one nation. When a person, regardless of race, becomes a Christian, the Church, considers them a member with equal rights, the same as with all the Faithful. (Canonical references omitted)

2. The Church does not recognise racial impediments to marriage. If the State proceeds along these lines, it will intrude deeply into the exclusive right of the Church, which in accordance with Canon 1016 regulates the marriage of the baptised, while respecting the rights of the State as regards the civil effects of the marriage contract.

3. From the order it is not clear if Catholics of Jewish descent can take part in religious processions and public meetings, because Paragraph 33 prohibits Jews from participation in public meetings. If interpreted strictly, the right of these Faithful to participate in public religious acts would be limited. (Canon 1261, para 1)

4. While we appreciate the provision of Paragraph 39, which allows members of a church recognised by the State to attend at least public primary schools (elementary), at the same time, we must bear in mind the duty we have to take care of the religious education of our people. We can not be satisfied with that limitation.

It is the natural right of each individual to develop within themselves the qualities and talents they have received from God. This happens regularly in school. The Church has the right to erect schools of all kinds, and Christian-Catholics have the right to attend these schools, indeed it is also their duty. And since we have religious secondary schools, we can not find the reasons for which we should exclude these children of our own Church, many of whom have from an early age, were taught in the Christian spirit, and have never had the slightest idea, that for reasons that are completely incomprehensible to them, they must be excluded from education and the religious instruction their peers receive.

5. There is no doubt that the state authority, which must take care of the common good, also has the right to employ effective means to achieve that end. Nevertheless, it also has the duty to respect the natural and positive-divine law.

According to Catholic moral experts, the so-called “Jewish Code” affects the inherent right of individual conscience and freedom. (Canonical references omitted)

The practical consequences hidden in the above regulation are incalculably harmful for the moral and religious life. How can we continue to teach that all are equal before God as seen in the command of the Saviour, “Go and teach all peoples” (Matthew 28.19) that everyone must be baptised and join the Church? How can Catholic priests comfort the faithful of Jewish nationality in their trials? How can we proclaim without contradiction the precept of Christ: “Do unto others what you would want others to do to you”? (Matthew 7.12)

Considering all these effects and relying on the undisputed principle, that the civil legislator, in making laws, should adjust them to conform to the natural and positive divine laws, we ask that:

1. Ordinance number 198/1941 Jewish Code be modified in accordance with the principles of Catholic doctrine, and, in particular, that the civil legislator exempt all the baptised from all effects of the so-called “Jewish Code”.

2. That, here and now, Mr President, pursuant to Paragraph 225, grant to all members of the Catholic Church, who are particularly entrusted to us, full exemption from the effects of the Decree. With joy we noted that the Decree of the Interior Ministry does not force Jewish-Christians to wear the Jewish badge.

3. That because the regulation prohibits non-Jews intervening in favour of baptised Jews, at least permit the bishops and parish priests to provide the President with information about these Faithful, who, according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, fulfil their religious and civil duties in an exemplary manner.

4. That in future, in the formation of laws, the involvement of the representatives of the Church are involved, when proposed laws and regulations affect the religious life. The State should regulate like that, even when it submits to the prior judgement of interested groups who will be affected by the legislation.

(1) ADSS 8.153

(2) See  

From Stand-Off to Confrontation: Pope Pius XII and Mussolini, 1938-1943

I posted one of Schnitker's earlier articles in August. This article is a very good summary of the situation that confronted the Church in Italy during the 1930s. The title might be a bit misleading, unless it this is the beginning of a series since it is more related to Pius XI than his successor. Schnitker's grasp of the "big picture" is clear and coherent. I look forward to reading more of his series.


The relationship between the Catholic Church in Italy and the country’s Fascist regime began seriously to unravel in the year 1938. Until then, two important considerations had mitigated the short-comings of Mussolini in the eyes of the Church: the signing of the Lateran Treaty and the Concordat. The first had ended years of strife between the Church and the country that had been the host of the Throne of St. Peter since the first century; the second had created Italy in the Church’s image, at least to some extent.

As noticed previously, since the Concordat, Catholicism had become Italy’s state religion, the Church supported financially by the state. All schools, and not just Catholic ones, taught Christianity from the Church’s perspective, and marriage had become reserved for the Church. Little wonder many in Italy’s Church believed Mussolini to have been ‘a man of Divine Providence’, for the contrast with Liberal Italy between the 1860s and 1929 could not have been greater.

The Church had paid a price, however, and the size of the payment grew as the years of Fascist rule accumulated. The first, and arguably greatest, price was the abolition of the Catholic political party. This had been a major factor in Italian politics and its sacrifice had been deemed to have been of lesser importance than the Lateran Treaty and Concordat. Of course, one needs to be aware that not all Catholics had welcomed the bargain: Italy’s Church contained Catholics with varying views on the world, with many emphasizing the cause of economic justice set out in the Encyclical Rerum Novarum, a cause which underpinned the Catholic Party in the Italian Parliament.

Others were first and foremost social conservatives, whose main concern was with the authority of the Church and with the prestige of Italy as a nation state. Some of these have been termed ‘clerico-fascists’. To Pope Pius XI, this cleavage presented a serious challenge: he wished for a unified Church and resented the incursion of political arguments within the ranks of the Church. In the Pontiff’s view, these squabbles detracted from what truly mattered, the Church’s task of spreading the Gospel. This task had been impeded by the rise of Liberal, Nationalist Italy, and the removal of that obstacle took precedence in Pope Pius XII’s eyes.

This did not mean that he embraced Fascism in the way that some of the clerico-fascists in the Church did, far from it. The Holy Father publicly described the Fascist oath as being incompatible with Catholic teaching, and this should have been a warning for the bishops and priests in the country whose patriotism overrode their sense of Catholicism. Pope Pius XII had finely-tuned antennae that picked up the merest whiff of ideologies that attacked the essence of the Gospel. In this series we have already seen that the Pontiff clashed with Mussolini over Catholic Action, the social organization that had remained in being after the abolition of the Catholic Party.

It was a clash that would repeat itself in 1938, as the dictator tried to move closer to the ideological world across the Alps in Germany. The two Fascist regimes had already found each other in Spain, where they supported General Franco’s nationalists. In 1938, two events removed the obstacles to greater co-operation and, finally, an alliance between Berlin and Rome. The first was the removal of Austria from the political map of Europe. To date, Italy had guaranteed the survival of the Alpine republic, where the regime mirrored the preoccupations of Rome. Yet Hitler was determined to incorporate what he saw as fellow Germans into his Reich.

To Mussolini, this was incomprehensible. After all, he had, correctly, described racism and the ideals of race as “a stupid mistake”. This was six years earlier, in 1932. The arrival of German troops on the Italian border made him nervous, for across that border lay southern Tyrol, a wholly German region which Italy had acquired as part of the Versailles Treaty in 1919. A previous German attempt to install a puppet Nazi regime in Vienna had failed precisely because Mussolini had opposed it. Now, however, the tables were turned. The Duce was convinced that Germany’s army could not be stopped by his troops, indeed, was no longer convinced this was desirable.

In the aftermath of the annexation in April 1938, the Catholic Church in Austria and in Italy, as well as the Papacy, all received a serious shock. Vienna’s Cardinal Innitzer and one or two of the Austrian bishops had urged the people to vote in favor of annexation. They believed that it would remove the threat of Marxism, and they believed Hitler would maintain the privileges of the Church as secured in the 1933 Concordat. They were sorely mistaken on the last count. Hitler closed all Catholic schools and silenced Catholic opposition. The final act was an open attack on Cardinal Innitzer’s residence, after the latter had fronted a demonstration against the Nazis.

One month later, Hitler was being fêted by Mussolini and the Fascists as he visited Italy. The shockwaves that emanated throughout the Italian Church could hardly have been more severe. True, there were still some clergy for whom nationalism played a more important role than their Faith, but their numbers were dwindling fast. The oppression of the Church in Germany had already caused Pope Pius XI to ask the man who was to succeed him, Eugenio Pacelli, to write the Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, in 1937. What had happened in Austria had served only to underline the threat that Nazism posed to the Church and her teachings. It was dawning on many just what the price-tag was for the promise of Fascism to ward off the Church’s enemies: Socialists, Marxists, Liberals and Freemasons. That price-tag was a new enemy, more ruthless than any except for the Russian Bolshevists.

Hitler’s visit to Italy in April 1938 brought that new menace very close to the heart of the Church. Indeed, the German dictator was received by the Italian king in the Quirinal, the former palace of the Popes in Rome. It was followed by a renewed Fascist crackdown on Catholic Action in Italy. Mussolini’s advisors were convinced by now that Catholic Action served as an incubator for a generation of militant Catholics, unreached by Fascist teaching. They were right, for this is exactly what the Pope had in mind when he had prevented Catholic Action from following the Catholic Party into oblivion. A secret service source reported that Catholic Action was a political party in waiting, prepared for when Fascism and monarchy were to topple. He was right. From it grew the Christian Democratic Party, which ruled Italy from 1945 to its demise in the late 1980s.

What caused most in the Church to abandon any remaining regard for the Fascists was Mussolini’s introduction of Anti-Semitic legislation in the autumn of 1938. Italy’s 70,000 Jews were amongst the best integrated in Europe, and had contributed to Italian life in all forms, from cuisine to politics. Amongst the founders of the Fascist party there had been many Jews, and one recalls Mussolini’s remarks on the stupidity of racism. In its early days, Fascism had been markedly free of Anti-Semitism, and the party had exempted the Jews from the rules of the Concordat, to the dismay of the more Anti-Semitic wing of Italy’s Church. All that came to an end with the stroke of the pen of a man desperate to ingratiate himself with Germany’s racist dictator.

Pope Pius XI’s reaction was typical of the man: he offered teaching posts to Jewish professors dismissed from Italian universities, and provided jobs for many other Jews. It convinced Pius that he had been wrong in seeing Mussolini as the man of Divine Providence; instead, he realized that the Italian strongman had been drawn into the vortex of Germany’s neo-pagan rulers. Of course, Mussolini’s own original dislike of the Church and the clergy resurfaced around this time, too. However, there were still those in the Church, true clerico-fascists these, who could bless the Italian army as it entered France in 1940, and some who remained staunchly supportive of the regime until its fall in 1943. Few went as far as the Archbishop of Palermo, who prayed for Divine intervention against possible British and American invaders, but many let their Italian hearts rule their Catholic heads, nonetheless.

Friday, September 9, 2011

ADSS 8.153 Part 2

This post continues the report sent by Giuseppe Burzio to Cardinal Maglione on the promulgation of the Slovakian Jewish Code in September 1941.  It is not difficult to see the focus of the bishops' protest.  They protested in the name of converted Jews and Jews married to Catholics.  It is important to keep this in context.  As far as the bishops were concerned, converted Jews were Catholics, not Jews.  Marriage between Catholics and Jews was a sacred bond that had to be defended against intrusion by the state.


Since that time, I have not abandoned the occasion to suggest, politely, to their Excellencies the Bishops, the opportunity for a bishops’ conference. There were many issues of common interest to examine and, confined to the racist question, the earlier antisemitic laws had raised many problems of a religious order that required necessary study and resolve by mutual agreement.

Appeals and isolated protests to the Government made by diocesan curia remained without effect; joint action of the bishops would have greater chance of success. Unfortunately, if took several months for their excellencies to find the time to meet.

Finally, when I was confidentially informed on 3 September that the publication of the new laws against the Jews was only a matter of days away, and that the provisions relating to marriage were very serious and would have retrospective effect (they were later changed at the last moment), I went to Nitra to suggest at once, the prompt convening of a meeting of the bishops; moreover, I had heard that the Minister of the Interior, who was working on the Jewish Code, had expressed surprise that the bishops remained silent, and did not know the point of view of the Ministry, at least in matters that directly affect the interests of the Church.

In Nitra I was told that it was not so serious and urgent, and that the news received the news from the President of the Republic was reassuring. In view of this, I did not dare insist. A few days later on 8 September, Bishop [Andrea] Škrábik, [1882-1950] coadjutor of Bánská Bystrica wrote to me as follows:

[Original text in Latin] Reflecting on your visit to Nitra last week, I had an opportunity to have an interview with the President, who said to me: a) the published laws do not effect Jews who have already contracted ecclesiastical marriages; for future such marriages which do not present the matrimonial impediment but only hide it (such marriages are forbidden), will have no penal sanction for those who officially preside at such marriages, but the contracting parties will be subject to the penalties according to the laws regarding civil marriage. b) Aspects that go beyond the Nuremberg Laws. These laws, in relation to the Slovakian Jewish code will be tiresome for a few, mild for others. Under the new law the President will have the right to grant exemptions if the person concerned proves themselves worthy and their behaviour warrants the exemption. The President asks that we have confidence in him”.

Nevertheless, I thought it appropriate to ask, privately, for an audience with the President of the Republic, to see if he really was able to give a clear and authoritative word, which was strong enough to allay apprehensions about the extent of the antisemitic laws in preparation. Until that time no one imagined that the announcement of the Jewish Code would be made in such a surprising way by a simple Government decree. It was believed that there would be, at least a pro forma participation of the Chamber.

I was granted an audience on 10 September, the same morning the newspapers promulgated the Jewish Code. I had no choice, in my discussion with Dr Tiso, to complain about the laws, and to express my regret that in some points of the Code the rights of the Church and of Catholics were misunderstood and to vow the President of the Republic would take the appropriate measures to repair or mitigate the licensed injustices.

Bishop Škrábik immediately expressed his disappointment with a letter, which I include in part: (in Latin):

The feelings which have driven the government orders on the Jews, are scarcely in harmony with what was told me by the President and which I wrote to your reverence on 8 September. We seek the statements made by the Holy See and Italian and German bishops on this matter, that they may be studied in the conference which the Bishop of Nitra [Charles Kmetko 1875-1948] will probably convene in Bratislava on 7 October.

I replied to Bishop Škrábik, expressing the fear that some of the measures in the Jewish Code would be put into effect before the Bishops’ conference. For example the obligation to wear the Hebrew Badge (Star of David), would affect many Catholics (more than three thousand); that regardless of what is discussed and decided upon at the conference, it would be good to go immediately to the office of the President of the Republic, exercising their right under Paragraph 255 of the Code which exempts “Hebrew Catholics” from wearing the Badge. Bishop Škrábik wrote at once in this vein to the President.

The decree on the marking of the Jews was issued today (18 September) by the Ministry of the Interior. In paragraph 2 e) it said that the only exemptions from wearing the Jewish Badge were granted to Jews who belonged to one of the Christian Churches recognised by the State, provided they were baptised before the 10 September 1941.

The next bishops’ conference will also certainly have to deal with other problems associated with the promulgation of the “Jewish Code”, especially issues related to marriage and schools. I will not fail to inform your eminence.

Notes of Mgr Tardini


Monsignor Burzio protests with the note written.

Prepare a note for the Legation here. (ADSS 8.199 – Maglione’s protest to Slovakian minister Karel Sidor)

(Cf also ADSS 8.173 – Slovakian Bishops letter to Tiso.

ADSS 8.153 Giuseppe Burzio's report on the Slovakian Jewish Code 18.09.1941

Volume 8 of ADSS is the first volume that deals with the victims of the war in considerable detail.  It is here that we find much of the documentation that gives us insight into what the Vatican knew of the persecution of the Jews in Europe.  The two parts of Volume 3 also cover much of the persecution of the Jews in Poland and the Baltic States, but it is not as explicit as the material from the rest of Europe. 

The Nazi puppet state of Slovakia was created in 1939 from the remains of Czechoslovakia.  Extreme right-wing and nationalist priest, Jozef Tiso was President throughout the life of the Republic and implemented anti-Jewish laws and oversaw the deportation of the Slovak Jews.  Appeals from Rome to Tiso's priestly vocation and respect for the authority of the Pope and bishops fell on deaf ears.  His trial and execution as a Nazi collaborator in 1947 elicited no appeal from the Vatican.

Traditionally, the Holy See did not, and does not, recognise states created during a time of war or in unusual situations.  Consequently there are no formal diplomatic relations between the two entities.  Pius XII appointed Giuseppe Burzio (1901-1966) as a charge d'affaires in Bratislava.  A similar arrangement was made for Croatia under Ante Pavelic.  Burzio's reports indicate a very high level of awareness of the political and social realities in Slovakia and, in particular, the rising tide of Jew-hatred promoted by the Tiso government.

In September 1941, Tiso's regime promulgated the Jewish Code which enacted wide-reaching Nuremberg style laws.  Burzio reported the news to Cardinal Maglione in an extensive report on 18 September.  He went into detail about the new laws as well as the reaction of the Slovakian bishops, which while slow to begin with, soon expressed their negative views on the laws.  However, their disapproval was voiced at the interference of the state in the marriage laws which now outlawed marriage between Jews and non-Jews as well as for converted Jews.

The text must be read in its context.  The mass murder campaign in the Soviet Union was only just underway.  It is fair to say that there would have been very few in Slovakia who could have imagined the fate of the Slovak Jews.  Within six months, however, that fate would become very clear.

The Slovakian experience is interesting for the reports from Burzio which detail the unfolding of the anti-Jewish persecution and the responses from Rome.  The Pope certainly knew of the reports and equally certainly, approved of the responses to them.

Giuseppe Burzio 1901-1966
Papal charge d'affaires Slovakia 1941-1945

This is the first part of my translation of the document:

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 8.153

Reference: Rap nr. 577 (AES 8303/41, orig)

Location and date: Pressbourg (Bratislava) 18.09.1941

Summary statement: Racial legislation; first steps of the chargé affaires

Language: Italian


As I had the honour to inform Your Eminence on 9 September 1941 Slovakia promulgated a government regulation, the so-called “Jewish Code”. Paragraph 270 the legal, social and economic situation of Jews has been fixed on racist principles and strict adherence to the Nuremberg Laws.

Notwithstanding the importance and gravity of the provisions enacted giving them the character of true law, this legislation was processed outside the Parliament and was published without a vote or approval of the Chamber. It does not bear the signature of the President of the Republic [Fr Josef Tiso 1887-1947], but only the Head of the Government [Adalbert Tuka] and the government ministers. Dr Tiso was against and opposed until it was introduced as law, but the internal pressures and especially those outside were very loud and he had to yield, but only on condition that he reserved the right to exempt; in which is in fact established in paragraph 225 of the Law.

The essential points of the “Jewish Code” are as follows:

A Jew is considered, regardless of sex, to be a Jew if: 1) a person had at least three ancestors of the Jewish race; 2) if a person is a “cross” (“mongrel” literal translation of the Slovak word miešanec) that is if a person is a Jewish descendant of two ancestors of the Jewish race, if a) on 20 April, 1939 a person embraced the Israelite confession, b) after 20 April 1939 a person married a Jew; c) a person is descended from a mixed extra-marital union, and is born as an illegitimate child after 20 February 1940.

The Law shall consider that those who hold the Jewish confession shall be considered Jews.

Paragraph 4 fixes the notion of a legal Jewish person.

According to Paragraph 8, Jews are obliged to wear a distinctive badge (the Star of David), the wearing of which, along with any dispensation will be determined by the Minister of the Interior.

In accordance with Paragraph 9, marriage between Jews and non-Jews is prohibited, as is marriage between Jews and “cross-Jews” who do not fall under the dispensation granted in Paragraph 1. Those who contravene this law are punished with imprisonment up to three years and the loss of civil rights. Extra-marital affairs between Jews and non-Jews are forbidden.

According to Paragraph 12, Jews do not have the right to vote and may not be elected to Parliament or the governing boards of government controlled corporations. Likewise, they cannot function as state officials or government controlled institutes.

Paragraph 13 states that Jews cannot be members of the Hlinka Slovak Peoples’ Party, or of recognised minority parties; no are they able to be part of the Hlinka Guards, the Young Hlinka etc.

According to Paragraph 15, Jews cannot serve in the army or the police force. They are forbidden to work as public notaries, lawyers and engineers (Para 16). They cannot practice medicine, veterinary medicine (Para 18) nor in the pharmaceutical industry (Para 20).

Jews between 16 and 60 are required to work at the disposal of the Central Economic Office. (Para 22) Jews and their homes are subject to search by the organs of public safety (Paras 25-26). All correspondence of Jews is subject to censorship and possible seizure (Para 27).

According to Paragraph 28, the Central Economic Office, in agreement with the Minister of the Interior, may force Jews to leave certain towns and take up residence in other places. Likewise the same office can determine that Jews should be removed from a particular part of a city. Jews may be prohibited from staying spas, holiday resorts etc, visiting trade fairs, exhibitions etc.

They cannot form organisations, outside of religious communities. The only Jewish organisation is the “Central Jewish Organisation” based in Bratislava. (Para 30). They cannot hold meetings or demonstrations or take part in public events (Para 33).

They cannot be publishers, editors and contributors to newspapers except for those that will be published by the “Central Jewish Organisation”. In addition, no intellectual property of Jews can be released in Slovakian territory (para 34).

Members of the Jewish confession and Jewish communities can worship only in those buildings which, from the exterior, do not appear to be intended for religious purposes. Synagogues and prayer houses must, therefore, be adapted by 10 July 1942, otherwise they will be forfeit to the State (Para 36). Paragraph 37 prohibits Jewish ritual slaughter.

According to Paragraph 38, Jews are excluded from study in all schools and institutes of learning. Foreign degrees are not recognised. Jews are permitted to complete primary education only and only in classes permitted by the Minister of Public Instruction.

Jews may only be represented by Jewish lawyers before the courts (Para 50). They cannot bear arms, hold licenses for hunting and fishing, they cannot drive cars; are only permitted to travel third class on trains, but cannot use sleeping-cars or restaurant-cars; they cannot posses radios (Paras 50-54) etc etc. In short, the Slovakian “Jewish Code” is a collection of “They cannot”.

The following paragraphs relate to reports on inherited property and the economic situation of the Jews, and established special rules for their progressive and complete elimination from the political, economic and social life of the nation.

Comparing the Slovakian “Jewish Code” with the Nuremberg Laws one can make the following remarks:

The term “Jew” corresponds to that set by the Nuremberg Laws with two exceptions. First, the classification of the “half-Jew” is different; it applies if a person has married a Jew. While the Nuremberg Laws consider a person a Jew, regardless of the date of marriage, the Slovak Code considers the person Jewish if they married after 20 April 1939 when the first anti-Jewish law was passed. On the other hand, the Slovak Code is most severe, in that it considers a person to be a “mongrel” Jew if they have converted to the Israelite religion.

According to the intent and purpose of the Nuremberg Laws a convert is not considered to be a Jew. But the most important difference between the Slovakian Code and the Nuremberg Laws assurances that seemed to me unconvincing.consists in the fact that in Slovakia mixed marriages already contracted are not affected, and diversity of race is not grounds for divorce or separation.

Since last May (1941) there was talk of imminent and serious measures to be taken against the Jews; including the prohibition of marriage between Jews and Aryans. As I had the honour to report in my report No 371 of 19 May 1941, I then went to see the President of the Republic about the matter, and received propositions of assurance that I did not find convincing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

ADSS 8.141 Gabrielle Apor's response to Cardinal Maglione's protest over changes to Hungary's marriage laws.

Following the previous post which set out Cardinal Maglione's protest to the Hungarian government, I present the reply written to Maglione by the Hungarian Minister to the Holy See, Gabrielle Apor.

Apor's response is couched in the customary diplomatic language, makes general and sweeping statements, vague and non-committal.  The Vatican was no threat as far as the Hungarian government was concerned.

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 8.141
Reference: without number (AES 7410/41, original)
Location and date: Rome 06.09.1941
Summary statement: Justification for the race laws in Hungary.
Language: French.


With reference to the letter of 13.08.1941 (1), I have the honour to communicate to Your Eminence:

The Hungarian Government has noted with sincere regret, the fears Your Eminence expressed about the reforms introduced in Hungarian marriage laws.

The Hungarian population is – as is generally known – divided into different religions. Therefore after 47 years the Hungarian State was required to regulate the institution of marriage by statue and introduce legislation to make civil marriage mandatory.

From 1894 the Hungarian government has been, therefore, consistently of the view that the regulation of the institution of marriage is a task for the state: the Hungarian Government has not – after that time – changed its point of view

Vital political interests of the country oblige the Hungarian Government to introduce into the marriage laws new prohibitive measures. These important interests which result as a consequence, in part, of the general European situation, in part special social conditions in Hungary, which have been raised several times by qualified representatives of the Government before the Parliament and expressed by the President of the Council [László von Bardossy] to His Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio [Angelo Rotta].

During the discussion of the bill in question, the Hungarian Government sought to take account of the views expressed by His Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio and His Eminence, the Cardinal Prince Primate [Justinian Seredi] to the extent that the political circumstances that have made reform inevitable, allowed them.

The Hungarian Government, on its part, assures the Holy See that the framework of the law will not lose sight of the considerations which the Church places, with great importance, when the law is promulgated and in its implementation.

The Hungarian Government would sincerely regret if these concessions were not entirely satisfactory to the Holy See, but it expresses the hope that this circumstance will not affect the friendly relations that have traditionally existed so well between the Holy See and Hungary since the time of our first king, St Stephen [King of Hungary 1000-1038]

ADSS 8.128 Cardinal Maglione's protest to Gabrielle Apor over the Hungarian race laws

When confronted with difficult situations the main avenue available to the Vatican was the diplomatic protest.  This case is from August 1941.  Throughout the war, the style of the official protest changed little.

When the Hungarian government of Laszlo Bardossy proposed and then presented changes to the marriage laws, outlawing marriage between Jews and non-Jews, Cardinal Maglione issued a formal protest to the Hungarian minister to the Holy See.  The protest is directed at potential violations of Catholic teaching on marriage which has an indirect appeal for Hungarian Jews. 

The language reflects not only the formal diplomatic use of the time, but the powerlessness of the Vatican to influence areas that would normally fall under its jurisdiction.  Maglione would have discussed the protest note with the Pope, and, as was Pius' manner, tried to word the note in such a way that the Hungarians would not be so offended as to consider a complete refusal to consider the Vatican's position.

The Hungarian response will be presented in the next post.

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 8.128

Reference: AES 6145/41 minute)
Location and date: Vatican City, 10.08.1941
Summary statement: Protest against the Hungarian race laws.
Language: French.


The Cardinal Secretary of State has the honour to communicate to His Excellency the Hungarian Minister [Gabrielle Apor] the following:

As soon as the Holy See learned that the Hungarian Government had presented bills on the marriage laws to the Parliament, it presented its concerns to the Hungarian Government in confidence through His Eminence, Cardinal Seredi, and also His Excellency the Minister and the Apostolic Nuncio in Budapest [Angelo Rotta].

The official projects concerning the obligatory medical examination before marriage and the defence of marriage between Jews and non-Jews, despite the explicit and legitimate opposition of the Catholic bishops of Hungary were, with minor changes, approved by the Parliament.

The Cardinal Secretary of State is obliged, therefore, to express to the Hungarian Government the concerns of the Holy See, with regard to respect for the Catholic doctrine of the sacrament of marriage.

The impact of the two proposals, if not felt immediately, will at least, indirectly, as a result of the civil act, which must precede the religious ceremony or lead to legal penalty, prevent the marriage. This is, properly, a matter for the Catholic Church.

It is only too evident that these two projects affect Catholic doctrine, in that they establish impediments to the celebration of marriage where neither the Law of God, nor ecclesiastical law have such restrictions.

The Cardinal Secretary of State, being forced to make these remarks to the Hungarian Minister, does however not wish to miss the opportunity to express confidence that the Hungarian Government would wish to introduce in the regulations related to the matter in question, mitigations and provisions that capable of satisfying the requirements of Catholic conscience.

ADSS 8.139 Cardinal Maglione to Abbot Giuseppe Marcone

This is my translation of the letter of instructions sent to the Apostolic Visitor to Croatia, Abbot Giuseppe Marcone by the papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Luigi Maglione on 3 September 1941. Marcone had written to Maglione on 23 August 1941 about the marking of the Jews with a metal disc that was to be worn on the sleeve of their coats.  Maglione's response is very interesting for gauging something of the atmosphere in the Vatican's understanding of what was now happening to the Jews.  The invasion of the Soviet Union was still in its early stages, but reports of terrible killings were reaching centres of government in the "free world", and in all likelihood, rumours may have even reached Rome.

The Jewish badge worn in Croatia and the former Yugoslavia.

Marcone's August note is found in the first footnote.  I apologise in advance for the quality of the translation.  If a reader finds a serious error, please let me know.

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 8.139

Reference: AES 6660/41 minute
Location and date: Vatican City, 03.09.1941

Summary statement: Instructions from the Sec State, Cardinal Maglione, for the charitable work of the Apostolic visitor to Croatia, Giuseppe Marcone, OSB.

Language: Italian


I received the report of 23.08.1941(1) where your reverence reported his first impressions of the religious and political situation in Croatia.

I thank your reverence warmly for providing information for the Holy See, and I hope that communication with other countries becoming more difficult, you will be able to keep me regularly informed of the progress of the mission entrusted to you. I would be grateful if you would, in future, report on individual arguments with separate reports.

I gladly express to your reverence, my appreciation for your kindness working in favour of the Serbian people, and which I am sure will continue with prudence and tact required by the circumstances, to develop your charitable work with the intention to prevent the spread of these lamentable facts. (Possible reference to the forced conversion program undertaken by the Ustasha)

I noted with satisfaction how much His Excellency, the Archbishop of Zagreb (2) has done, as much as he can, to alleviate, the suffering of the Slovenian priests and exiled Catholics. In encouraging your paternity to continue to be more effectively involved, I am pleased to inform you that the Holy Father himself has deigned to favourably grant your request and advance a subsidy to provide for the most urgent needs. (3)

In this regard, however, as to the use of the money, I intend to send you instructions as soon as possible.

Given the opportunity, your paternity is to procure, confidentially and always ensuring in every case that your acts do not have an official character, to recommend proper restraint concerning the treatment of Jews living in Croatian territory.

As for the attitude of the clergy, both secular and religious, towards political issues, your paternity is to continue the ensure that they remain outside and above all party contests, while giving the civil authority their loyal and disinterested collaboration.

I have noted that your paternity reported of the real possibility for the Archbishop of Zagreb to continue to assist the faithful of the territory of Murakös. (4) I do not need to add that, in the current circumstances which may possibly persist, the Holy See does not intend to take away those faithful from their current jurisdiction to which they are subject.

I have the honour, finally, to inform your paternity that the Holy Father, with regard to the current difficulties communicating with the Holy See, has deigned to concede to you the use of faculties which are usually granted to Papal representative.


1. Marcone had written this report on 23.08.1941:

The Jews of Croatia are required to wear on their sleeves, a yellow metal disc, ten centimetres wide, with the letter “Z” (Zidov = Jew) written in the centre. This evil badge is tolerated, the hatred of the Croats and the economic disadvantages towards the Jews, often results in the souls of the Jews the desire to go to the Catholic Church. Do not exclude this a priori supernatural reasons and the silent work of divine grace. Our clergy facilitates their conversion, thinking that at least their children will be educated in Catholic schools and then will be more sincere Christians. (AES 4951/41)

There are several notes from Tardini:
This badge has been worn by the Archbishop of Zagreb. It is the same as those created for the Jews of Croatia. They [Croatian gov’t] also wanted to impose them [the badges] on converted Jews. The Archbishop was unable to prevent it. (I have not been able to verify this statement. I think it would be highly unlikely that Stepinac would have worn the Jewish badge.)

2. Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960).

3. A note from Cardinal Maglione – 25.07.1941 (AES 5795/41) said: The Holy Father has deigned to distribute:

1. for the 8 seminarians from Maribor at Propaganda College, as indicated by Cardinal Pietro Fumasoni (1872-1960; Prefect of Propaganda)

2. and for the other Maribor seminarians, for whom he [Fumasoni] asked for a subsidy, you are given 50,000 lire.

3. for the priests of Maribor and Ljubljana driven from their homes, you are given a subsidy of 150,000 lire (75,000 for the diocese).

The total sum could be sent to the bishop of Ljubljana [Gregorio Rožman, 1883-1959] with the request that he send to his colleague in Maribor [Ivan Josef Tomazic, 1876-1949), the amount indicated.

All these amounts are to be taken from the US$200,000 recently placed at the disposal of the Holy Father by the American bishops.

4. A territory in neighbouring Hungary. Under canon law no change to a diocese was made during a time of war or before formal international recognition of a new country’s borders.

Croatian Jewish children wearing a form of the badge.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Abbot Marcone and Croatia

I have been rather busy of late and been kept away from blogging.  Just before work commitments went into top gear, this article appeared in L'Osservatore Romano.  It looks at the Apostolic Visitor to Croatia, Abbot Giuseppe Marcone OSB, (1882-1952).  The Ustasha dictator, Ante Pavelic (1889-1959) desperately wanted Vatican recognition of his regime.  His visit to Rome in May 1941 (See ADSS 4.348, 351, 352, 356, 358) was a tight-rope exercise for the Vatican.

ADSS makes it clear that the pope wanted to avoid anything that would create an impression that the Holy See recognised the Croatian state or that is endorsed the policies of the Ustasha.  It is not difficult to see how these impressions were possible.  It mattered little that Pavelic's visit had none of the trappings associated with diplomatic visits; the fact remained that the pope received him.  To be fair to Pius, he had little choice.

One of the outcomes of the Pavelic visit was the appointment of Marcone as an Apostolic Visitor, a promise Pius made to Archbishop Stepinac in June 1941 (ADSS 4.392).  It was not until July 1941 that the pope appointed Marcone as Apostolic Visitor (ADSS 5.21), and August when the Visitor arrived in Zagreb (ADSS 5.36).

Marcone held no formal diplomatic credentials and was a guest of the Croatian government, nothing more.  His role was to watch the concerns of the Church in Croatia.  Nonetheless, Marcone not only watched Catholic interests, but also the growing rabid antisemitism in Croatia.  On 23 August 1941 he wrote to Cardinal Maglione, the Secretary of State, about the marking of Jews that had just begun in Croatia.  He also mentioned the hatred Jews were exposed to.  Maglione's instructions to Marcone (ADSS 8.139) were basically to do whatever he could to help while keeping out of anything that could compromise his official status.  I will post my translation of this document in the next post.  The Cardinal also added that Marcone was to ensure that the clergy kept out of politics and remain neutral.

Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac
Abbot Giuseppe Marcone,
Apostolic Visitor to Croatia

The papers of Apostolic Visitor, Giuseppe Ramiro Marcone reveal the Holy See’s commitment to helping Jews persecuted by Nazis

2011-08-09 L’Osservatore Romano

While the Second World War was blazing on the European continent, Benedictine abott, Monsignor Giuseppe Ramiro Marcone, was sent, in the summer of 1941, by the Holy See to the Croatian episcopate, as an Apostolic Visitor, to look after the Catholic interests in that country.

Detailed instructions from the Secretary of State of the Holy See clearly state that Abbot Marcone’s mission had “a completely spiritual and religious aim…from which it follows that the Most Reverend Abbot Marcone visiting the Kingdom of Croatia…will endeavor to avoid official contact with the governing authorities, in such a way that his mission be, and appear to be, in accordance with the desires of the Holy See, of a strictly religious nature...Particularly, the Most Reverend Prelate will advise and support Monsignor Stepinac and the Episcopate in combating the evil influence of neo-pagan propaganda which could be exercised in the organization of the new state.”

Only three weeks after his arrival, the diligent Apostolic Visitor sent a detailed report to the Holy See in which he described, in an abundance of detail, the precarious condition of the Jews in Croatia. The Roman Curia did not delay in replying, and on September 3rd, a letter from the Secretariat of State reached him containing precise directives which the Pope’s representative was advised to follow scrupulously: “Moderation is recommended regarding the treatment of Jews who reside in Croatian territory.” I

In reality, as Marcone’s secretary, Don Giuseppe Masucci, writes in his diary of the events, beginning on February 10, 1942, Abbot Marcone was asked to approach, with a certain swiftness, the Ustasa authorities to plead the cause of the Jews who were about to be taken to concentration camps; the prelude to the wicked “final solution to the Jewish problem.” S.S. Captain, Franz Abromeit, had been sent to Croatia to oversee the transfer of 5,500 Jews who – between August 13-20, 1942 – were removed from Croatian concentration camps and put on five trains destined for Auschwitz.

Seriously worried for the precipitation of events, Chief Rabbi of Zagreb, Miroslav Shalom Freiberger, in the late afternoon of February 10, 1942, decided to immediately call on the Pope’s representative. In Don Giuseppe Masucci’s diary the entry reads, “Chief Rabbi Dr. Freiberger presented himself to me at 6 pm, out of breath, and communicated to me that the city is full of notices announcing that all Jews, without distinction, must present themselves to the police. I told him that I would ask to speak with the Chief of Police the following day, and ask for an explanation. He added that the situation was very urgent because they would have already arrested everyone that night. So I telegraphed Dido (Eugen Kvaternik) saying that I had an extremely urgent matter to discuss with him and that there was no time to waste; he told me that I could come at 7 pm. At 7 pm I went to him and at length spoke, implored him and begged on behalf of these unfortunate Jews. I told him that mixed marriages should not be considered Jewish, but as part of the Catholic Church.”

The Police Chief , “was fairly pensive and immediately gave the order to publish in the newspapers that the notices were annulled. That all Jews in a mixed marriage should not be further disturbed, and that those who were still alive in concentration camps should be immediately released.” Abbot Marcone then took it upon himself to organize the transport of a small group of Jewish children – among whom was the son of the Chief Rabbi of Zagreb – through Hungary and Romania to safety in neutral Turkey.

As a sign of his gratitude, Rabbi Freiberger sent a letter to the Pontiff, on August 4, 1942, in which he expressed his deepest thanks for the sacrifice of many Catholic religious in assisting the Jews, and hoped that the Vatican would continue in this direction: “Full of respect, I dare come before the throne of Your Holiness to express, as Grand Rabbi of Zagreb and spiritual head of the Jews in Croatia, my most profound gratitude, and that of my congregation for the goodness, without limits, that the representatives of the Holy See and the heads of the church have shown to our poor brothers.”

By Giovanni Preziosi