Friday, December 18, 2015

Zuccotti and Doino - final exchanges

  1. I wish to acknowledge the generosity of CCHQ in allowing free republication of material from the ejournal. Their commitment to professional engagement and dialogue among historians is truly praiseworthy.
  2. Kyle Jantzen, one of the editors of CCHQ allowed a final word from each writer.  Doino's comments appear first followed by Zuccotti.
  3. William Doino:
  4. I am not alone in praising Lo vuole il Papa. Dr. Andrea Tornielli– Pius XII’s leading Italian biographer–also reviewed it favorably (here); and additional support appeared in Avvenire.
    Zuccotti contends that all the wartime diary accounts revealing a papal directive in the film “were not written during the war,” but the key entry from the original diary of the Augustinian nuns— of which I have a copy — is dated November 1943, and is written in the present tense (“Having arrived at this month of November…”) Zuccotti provides no convincing evidence that this specific entry was written later, is inaccurate, or that other diary entries which recorded a papal directive should always be assumed to be “questionable.” The idea that rescuers suddenly lose their memories, or invariably mislead, confuse or deceive people who record them, whenever a papal directive is involved, is not worthy of responsible history. Nor would that theory stand up in any fair-minded courtroom.
    Zuccotti’s suggestion that the elderly nuns interviewed for the film cannot be trusted because they are not “first-hand” witnesses rings hollow, because Zuccotti disparages first-hand witnesses as well.
    Commenting on priest-rescuer John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, Zuccotti writes: “In 2000, he apparently informed Doino that the pope told him many times to help Jews…” Msgr. Carroll-Abbing did in fact tell me this in a recorded interview, which I shared with many colleagues, one of whom cited it in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal Journal of Modern Italian Studies. Carroll-Abbing’s personal involvement with sheltering Jews during the German Occupation (“with each day that passed”) is described in chapter six of his memoirs, But for the Grace of God; and a profile of Carroll-Abbing in the New York Times (June 5, 1987) noted: “He was also a member of the resistance and helped find shelter for Jewish families in Rome.”
    Cardinal Dezza’s 1964 testimony, (available here), that Pius XII instructed him to “take in civilians or persecuted Jews,” during the German Occupation of Rome, is quite important. Zuccotti writes: “It is not clear if refugees were in fact hidden” in Dezza’s institution, whereas Dezza writes: “I took in various people.”
    The correspondent for the Palestine Post who reported that “several thousand refugees, largely Jews” thanked Pius XII for sheltering them at Castel Gandolfo was not relating a mere rumor, but reporting directly from Vatican City, in June, 1944–in other words, a “first-hand” eyewitness. Zuccotti offers no evidence that the journalist was mistaken or fabricated the account. More details on Pius XII’s life-saving measures at Castel Gandolfo can be found here; and his support for priest-rescuer Msgr. Hugh O’Flaherty, here.
    Finally, far from being “anxious to preserve Vatican neutrality,” Pius XII was quite active in the movement to overthrow Hitler, as Mark Riebling richly documents in Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War against Hitler.
  5. Susan Zuccotti:

    William Doino Jr. is mistaken. I also have a copy of the original diary of the Augustinian Sisters of the Santi Quattro Coronati in which the author claimed that the pope ordered the convent to open its doors to fugitives. As I stated in my article above, in the same paragraph in the diary, beginning “Having arrived at this month of November [1943]…” and claiming receipt of a papal order, the author went on to say, with no break and in the same handwriting, “and from November 4, we welcome until the following June 6 [emphasis mine] the persons listed here.” Even if this entry was composed in the present tense, it cannot possibly have been written until after the latter date. A few paragraphs later, under an entry for “The Year of Our Lord 1944,” the same author, with the same handwriting, in a paragraph that began “June 6,” the day of the liberation of Rome, wrote that the wartime guests left in that month but that in October 1944 the convent, on orders from the Vatican Secretary of State, accepted a General Carloni, who was being sought by the authorities on capital charges (war crimes?). The author continued that Carloni stayed, with a short break, “for a full five years.” So this paragraph, introduced with the words “June 6” and in a section dated “1944”, could not have been written before the end of 1949.
    I have never suggested that rescuers or survivors deliberately deceive. Perhaps some do, but most do not. Indeed, it is not they but their readers or listeners who often distort testimony to suit their interests. In my article above, I maintain that the chronicles of Santa Susanna, Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori, and the Istituto Maria Santissima Bambina, in writing of encouragement, consent, or individual requests from unnamed prelates, are credible. But those claims are not the same as a sweeping papal order or initiative for rescue.
    On the other hand, memory is a fickle thing. Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing may have informed Doino in 2000 that the pope told him many times to help Jews, but why did that same priest never mention those instructions in his memoirs of 1952 and 1966? Cardinal Paolo Dezza wrote once that the pope had instructed him to accept persecuted civilians including Jews, and added that “In fact I took in various people,” but he never explained who those guests were or how it was possible to shelter them since the pope had issued instructions not to use false documents or allow non-priests to wear clerical garb (see my article above).
    Claims in the Palestine Post that Jews were numerous among those sheltered at Castel Gandolfo during air raids before the liberation of Rome have never been confirmed by other witnesses or scholars (again see my article above, footnote 4). The Palestine Post article does not tell us who the journalist was who made the claim, or how he obtained his information.
    With the exception of an obituary written for the Catholic Herald in 1963 by a close friend, biographies and testimonies regarding Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty have not mentioned his rescue of Jews until very recently. These latest claims must be subject to the same rigorous scrutiny as all other evidence. For oral evidence, questions include: who was the witness; what was the source of his or her knowledge; if testimony was delayed, why; who was the interviewer and how were the questions framed; and what, exactly, did the witness say?
    And finally, Mark Riebling shows that Pius XII had information about German resistance efforts to overthrow Hitler, but the author also makes it clear that the pope was determined to remain neutral to help negotiate a peace.

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