Friday, August 17, 2012

ADSS 9.191 Maglione to Cicognani: Holy See and Palestine

ADSS 9.191 Cardinal Maglione to Amleto Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate, USA

Reference:  (AES 2968/43)
Location and date:  Vatican, 18.05.1943

Summary statement: Efforts of HS to help the persecuted Jews; considerations about the Holy Places in Palestine.

Language: Italian


Your Excellency knows well the constant wide-ranging action undertaken by the Holy See – through considerable difficulty – in favour of those considered “non-Aryan”.

The Holy See has given particular attention to young people and children trying to alleviate their suffering and even in recent days it intervened with the Slovak government to suspend any transfer of “Jewish” residents in the Republic. (1)

Recently, his Excellency the Apostolic Delegate in London, communicated to the Holy See news that the British government has allowed the immigration of children of Jewish descent residing in European countries to Palestine, and has sought the intervention of the Holy See to help transfer these children without encountering too much difficulty. (2) 

In ensuring that the Apostolic Delegate mentioned that the Holy See would not fail to take care of the children mentioned, (3) I consider it appropriate to draw to your attention to the general question of the “Jewish Home” in Palestine.  In this respect, your Excellency, will certainly remember that ever since the Balfour Declaration of November 1918 (4), the Holy See has hastened to repeatedly express its point of view on the establishment of a “Jewish Home” in Palestine in solemn documents.

His Holiness, Benedict XV of venerable memory, in a Consistorial Allocution on 10 March 1919, expressed himself thus:

There is one matter on which we are most specially anxious, and that is the fate of the Holy Places, on account of the special dignity and importance for which they are so venerated by every Christian. Who can ever tell the full story of all the efforts of Our predecessors to free them from the dominion of infidels, the heroic deeds and the blood shed by the Christians of the West through the centuries? And now that, amid the rejoicing of all good men, they have finally returned into the hands of the Christians, Our anxiety is most keen as to the decisions which the Peace Conference at Paris is soon to take concerning them. For surely it would be a terrible grief for Us and for all the Christian faithful if infidels were placed in a privileged and prominent position; much more if those most holy sanctuaries of the Christian religion were given into the charge of non-Christians. (5)

The same pope reaffirmed the attitude of the Holy See in an allocution on 13 June 1921, in which, among other things he said: “ we certainly do not want any diminishment of the rights of the Jews but it should be at the expense of the suppression of the sacred rights of Christians”. (6)

Later on 6 March 1922, the Secretary of State sent a Note to the British government on this important and delicate issue; and on 4 June he sent an Aide-Memoire to the Council of the League of Nations, in which the principles enunciated by the Holy Father were solemnly reaffirmed. (See attachments) (7)

As you will see, there are two related issues in the documents.  The first concerns the “Holy Places” (such as the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, Bethlehem, etc …) around which Catholics have had special rights over the centuries, and which in justice, must be respected.  On this point there were, even after the last world war, repeated and formal assurances.

The second issue is Palestine.  There is no doubt that Catholics throughout the world are looking with deep piety and devotion towards the land of Palestine, which was consecrated by the presence of the Divine Saviour and its place as the cradle of Christianity. Therefore their religious feelings would be hurt should Palestine be given and entrusted, in greater part, to the Jews.  That pattern would give rise to other Catholics, who would be understandably concerned about the peaceful enjoyment of those historical rights, already mentioned, and accorded to the Holy Places.

It is true that at one time Palestine was inhabited by the Jews, but how can the principle of brining back people to this land where they were until 19 centuries ago be historically accepted?

In conclusion, it does not seem difficult, if one wishes to create a “Jewish Home” to find other areas the best lend themselves to the purpose, while Palestine under a Jewish majority, would give rise to new and serious international problems, would displease Catholics all over the world, would provoke the justifiable protest of the Holy See, and would badly correspond to the charitable concerns that the Holy See has had and continues to have for the non-Aryans.

So I think it appropriate for your Excellency to attend with tact and prudence so to distinguish between the complex and serious questions and draw them to the benevolent attention of his Excellency, Mr Taylor (8), and, if needs be, to their Excellencies the bishops.

If, then, there is a divergence in public opinion contrary to Catholic interests, your Excellency will come to a conveniently enlightened  agreement with their Excellencies the bishops.(9)

Cross references: 
(1) See ADSS 9.176
(2) See ADSS 9.94
(3) See ADSS 9.171
(4) 02.11.1917.  The Declaration was signed by the Allies in 1918. Lord Balfour was Foreign Secretary of the UK, 10.12.1916 to 24.10.1919.
(5) AAS 11 (1919), p 100.  Cited in Eugene Bovis (1974) The Jerusalem Question, pp 6-7.
(6) Ibid, 13 (1921), p 283.
(7) Not published in ADSS.
(8) Myron Taylor, Personal Representative of FDR to Pius XII

(9) The original minute was much shorter.  Domenico Tardini made the annotation:
“07.05.1943. With the Apostolic Delegate I would be much more explicit:
a) I would refer to the intervention of the Holy See for the Jews and what it has done and will do for the children …
b) I would get fully into the question of a Jewish home in Palestine – α recalling at some length the background information; β pointing out the attitude of the Holy See; γ asserting the rights about the holy places; δ making clear the arguments that do not make it … permissible for Catholics to have a Palestine in Jewish hands. 
In conclusion the Apostolic Delegate:
a) should begin to discuss the matter with Taylor, with the bishops etc.
b) in case you should have to enlighten public opinion …
c) a Palestine in Jewish hands would not only open new and serious questions … and would not be the best way to correspond with what the Holy See has done for the Jews.  It should come out in a clear and complete dispatch”. See the encyclical In multiplicibus curis of 24.10.1948 where Pius XII insisted on the internationalisation of the Holy Land. (AAS 40, 1948, pp 435 ff.

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