Sunday, July 13, 2014

ADSS 10.242 Angelo Rotta to Luigi Maglione - "scandalised"

On 25 June 1944 one transport carrying 2296 Jews left Hungary for Auschwitz.

Angelo Rotta's patience with the Hungarian bishops ended in this document.  I language that borders on the intemperate when compared with his previous reports, Rotta labels the inaction of the bishops, including the Cardinal Primate, Justinian Seredi, "scandalous".  I have not encountered such strong language in any document from a nuncio related to Catholic bishops anywhere in ADSS.  Pius XII was, at the same time, sending a letter to the Regent, Admiral Miklos Horthy.  This will follow in the next post.  Reading Rotta's outburst, which comes more from the heart of a good man and priest, than the mind of a seasoned diplomat, I can feel the pain, frustration and anger that Jews, among them a considerable number of Christians, were going to their deaths and their bishops were silent.  There is also evidence of the Vatican's growing frustration with the Hungarian bishops hinted in note 3 from the Secretariat of State.  In effect, Rotta was told to "keep at it" and nag the bishops into doing something.

This is a debunking of one of the toughest myths about the Pope and the Holocaust.  If he was pope, couldn't he order the bishops to protest etc?  Here is a case in point.  The pope did order, through his nuncio, the bishops to protest.  The bishops did not.  This does not mean Pius XII had no other course of action, as the papal letter to Horthy shows, but it does point out some of the real limitations to papal power.

10.242 Angelo Rotta to Cardinal Maglione

Reference: Telegram 208 (AES 3982/44)

Location and date: Budapest, 24.06.1944 @ 21.00 (received in Rome 25.06.1944 @ 11.35)

Summary statement: Information on the persecution and deportation of the Hungarian Jews; criticism of the attitude of the bishops.

Language: Italian

 Following from my telegram number 206. (1)

Further steps have been made in the matter of the Jews, especially for the favourable treatment for the baptised, but without any visible result.  Meanwhile the deportations continue, and over the next few days they begin again … where, Christians of Jewish origin are most numerous. (2) Only energetic action by the episcopate could possibly put the brakes on the action.  Many Catholic faithful and priests are scandalised by the submissive behaviour of the bishops, motivated to excessive caution. Please as a matter of urgency the Holy See must press the Cardinal Primate to make public action and energetically save those who can be saved, and save the honour of the Catholic Church which is now compromised. (3)

(1) See ADSS 10.233
(2) The location is unknown because of a problem with sending the telegram. Almost 380,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported by this date.  The majority of the remaining Jews were in Budapest.

(3) A reply was sent to Rotta almost immediately on 25.06.1944 (Telegram 251, AES 3982/44) letting him know that the Pope had contacted the regent, Admiral Miklos Horthy (Cf ADSS 10.243).  It recommended: “Make additional insistence today to the bishops today as indicated in the last telegram”.

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