ROME, FEB. 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Pope Pius XII was again in the news this week, as researchers presented two documents that were interpreted as putting the Pope in a negative light regarding his response to the Holocaust.
As ZENIT reported Monday, a brief document was presented as a new find dated Oct. 19, 1943. The document is a telegram from American diplomat Harold Tittmann on his meeting with the Pope. [He wrote a book about his time spent in the Vatican as a diplomat.]
The document does not mention the Oct. 16 raid on the Jews of Rome, wherein more than 1,000 of the city's Jews were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz. [There is a reason for this and it will be explained later.]
Given that Tittmann's report does not mention the raid (though theoretically it had happened just three days before), and instead reports Pius XII's concern about Communists in Rome and his desire to keep the Eternal City in peace, headlines reported the Pope's "indifference" to the Holocaust. [Here is the stupid Western media ganging up on a dead guy and twisting historical facts just to advance their anti-Catholic rhetoric.]
However, there is a basic problem.
In a statement sent to ZENIT, Professor Ronald Rychlak of the University of Mississippi explains that Pius XII could not have expressed concern about the roundup of Roman Jews because it hadn't happened yet.
Rychlak is the author of "Hitler, the War, and the Pope." [You can buy it here.]
He explained: "The transcribed message to Washington from Harold Tittmann is dated Oct. 19, but this is a mistake. Vatican records show that the meeting between Pius and Tittmann took place on Oct. 14."
"In fact, L'Osservatore Romano of Oct. 15, 1943, reported on page one -- top of the first column -- that Tittmann was received by the Pope in a private audience on Oct. 14, 1943.
"Apparently a handwritten '14' was misread as a '19' when the documents were typed. The Pope did not mention the roundup of Jews because it had not yet happened!" [See how a misinterpretation of a handwritten number sends the anti-Pius zealots into a frenzy? See what difference that makes?]
Rychlak noted that what the Pope did express to Tittmann was his concern "that a group of Communists would commit a violent act and this would lead to serious repercussions. Of course, he proved to be exactly correct the following spring."
Moreover, though the Oct. 14 document was presented as a new find, historians were already aware of it because it was published in 1964, with the incorrect date.
It is in the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) collection, in Volume II of 1943, on page 950.
In his blog, Andrea Tornielli, Vatican expert of the Italian daily "Il Giornale," points out that the researchers who presented this "new document," Giuseppe Casarrubea and Mario Cereghino, have already made such "revelations" in the past.
"In October of 2008," he reported, "they presented as unpublished a document to use it against Pius XII (it was also referred to by ANSA [news] agency) and later they had to apologize."
I was thinking of writing something as a reaction to this but I came upon this online review of the book Inside the Vatican and I would like to share this with everybody.
"After reading this book one clearly sees the absurdity of the "Hitler's pope" myth - for the Allies there was no question whether the pope was pro-Hitler or not. [True. If indeed the Pope were sympathetic to the Nazis, why, after the war, was he not tried or even questioned. He could have answered all of these attacks against him, from anti-Catholic media, to anti-Catholic Jews. Why on earth would Golda Meir even pay homage to him when the pope died? For Pete's sake.] There was no argument (as there is today) on where the sympathies of the pope lay. The idea of the pope being on friendly terms with Hitler would have seemed sheer nonsense to anyone at the time, to such a degree that anyone who would have suggested thus during his pontificate would have probably been suspected of being either vehemently anti-Catholic or even communist (communists certainly had good reason to smear the reputation of the pope). If it were true that he was on friendly terms with Hitler, it would have seemed utterly strange for him to shelter POW's who managed to sneak into the Vatican (as it is reported in the book). But it did not seem strange to anyone at the time, rather it seemed logical, given that everyone knew Pius to be strongly anti-Nazi. This book raises the question: who should be trusted as a source for judging Pius XII, those who lived with him at the time of his pontificate who are all in universal agreement on the goodwill of the pope and on his anti-Nazi stance, or those who came later who have judged the pope through calumnies and twisted facts. [Just as I have been raising against the anti-Pius zealots. They have no historical proof! Nothing but Dan Brown evidence!] The answer is clearly evident to those who wish to know the truth of the matter. In conclusion, this book is an invaluable source for any serious historian who is interested in learning more about the Vatican during WWII and the whole "did Pius do enough to help the Jews" question.
Need I say more?
But these books. Don't waste your money on John Cornwell's or Dan Brown's.