Sunday, July 29, 2012

ADSS 8.492 Notes from the Italian Embassy

In late September 1942, the Italian embassy to the Holy See passed on a report that it had received from the Italian embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia.  The report set out news on the deportation of the Slovakian Jews, but in particular focused on the anger in Catholic clerical circles towards priest-president Tiso's use of religious celebrations to make speeches on the anti-Jewish laws.  The Italian report summed up the reaction as - Tiso's speeches create confusion; who do Catholics believe - their pastors or the president?  That such as question was asked at all suggests that the answer may well have been that many Catholics were listening to Tiso.  

The report also refers to the Calvinist pastor of Nitra, László Sedivy, who had been arrested for continuing to baptise Jews despite formal warnings to stop the practice.  Tiso had said publicly that he did not believe in the sincerity of Jewish conversions or baptisms citing his experience as parish priest of Banovce (1924-1945) where he had not baptised one Jew, although he had the pleasure of receiving 18 Protestants into the Catholic Church.

Francesco Babuscio Rizzo, counsellor of the Italian embassy to the Holy See in Rome, passed on the report to the Secretariat of State.  At the end of the report is a note from Domenico Tardini with the words "See by the Holy Father".

ADSS 8.492 Notes of the Italian Embassy
Reference: No number, (AES 7165/42)
Location and date: Rome, 26.09.1942

Summary statement: Information on persecution of Jews in Slovakia, antisemitic speech of Tiso, provoked opposition among Catholic clergy.

Language: Italian

During the summer months the forced exodus of Slovakian Jews was held as planned by the Government and occurred without giving rise to unrest. (1)  From 25 March to mid-August about 70,000 people were deported.  Between 16,000 to 20,000 Jews remain in the country.  The number is comprised in large part of Jews exempted from the Law of 15 May of this year, namely that those baptised before 14 March 1939; who were married to a person belonging to the Aryan race before September 1941; and who are (temporarily) indispensable because of their occupations, have been granted exemption from deportation by the President of the Republic. […] (2)

Ecclesiastical circles have not welcomed the presidential statements.  They find it incomprehensible that Monsignor Tiso (3) could say that love itself is a divine commandment.  We are quite used to hearing praise of love of neighbour from the mouths of Catholic priests.  They criticise the President’s use of religious celebrations where people in large numbers are gathered to make political speeches and declarations of the kind, which they create confusion in the souls of the listeners, who do not know to give greater credence to their pastors or statements of the President.  Monsignor Tiso does not believe in the sincerity of the conversions of the Jews.  From his time as a parish priest in Banovce at the beginning of the antisemitic agitation, that is a period of eighteen years, there has not been one Jew who asked to be baptised, while he had the satisfaction of converting eighteen Protestants to Catholicism. Today there are many Jews from Banovce who ask for Baptism (4).  In recent times there have been mass conversions of Jews to Calvinism in NitraPastor [László] Sedivy was warned to stop the baptisms which he administered without subjecting the newcomers to any religious training and only for reasons of profit.  In the face of his refusal (717 baptism had been administered), he was expelled and taken into custody.

Since he was asked what would qualify a person to pursue the objective by the Jews with the transition to Christianity since that this was not enough to discriminate against them, he answered that it was made out of pure speculation, that is, in the hope that the quality of baptism could be an element in the contribution towards a Presidential exemption.  […] (5)

Note of Domenico Tardini:

29.09.1942. From Commendatore [Francesco] Babuscio. (Counsellor of Italian Embassy to the Holy See)

Seen by the Holy Father.

Cross references: 
(1) See ADSS 8.298, 334, 343, 360, 382.
(2) Passages on Slovakian antisemitic propaganda and the 15.08.1942 speech of Tiso defending the racial laws has been omitted.
(3) Concerning the use of the title “Monsignor” and Tiso, see ADSS 5.123.
(4) Tiso was parish priest of Banovce from 1924 to 1945.
(5) Passages on “discrimination” omitted.


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