Pope Pius XII knew of Nazi Holocaust atrocities, letter suggests | EUROtoday

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A newly revealed letter from the Vatican archives suggests that World War II-era Pope Pius XII was conscious hundreds of Jews had been being killed in fuel chambers in occupied Poland, undercutting earlier Vatican arguments justifying the pope’s wartime silence on the Holocaust.

Following many years of strain from Jewish organizations and historians, the Vatican in 2020 opened its secret archives on the wartime pope, who headed the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958. Pius XII has since turn out to be one of probably the most controversial pontiffs for not publicly condemning the Nazis through the conflict, with critics dubbing him “Hitler’s Pope.” Others, together with the Vatican, have argued his diplomacy saved lives partly by stopping a Nazi backlash.

A newly unveiled doc has added gasoline to the controversy. It’s a German letter despatched by a German Jesuit member of the anti-Nazi resistance, Father Lother Koenig, and addressed to the pope’s trusted personal secretary Rev. Robert Leiber. In the letter dated Dec. 14, 1942, Koenig wrote that as much as 6,000 folks, “above all Poles and Jews,” had been dying every single day in “SS-furnaces” on the Nazi-run Bełzec focus camp in what was then occupied Poland. Reported this week by Italian each day Corriere Della Sera, the letter was found by Vatican archivist Giovanni Coco, who described it as additional proof of a stream of specific and detailed information on Nazi crimes to the Holy See.

From March to December 1942, about 450,000 Jews, principally from Poland, had been killed on the Belzec focus camp, in keeping with the web site of the museum and memorial in Belzec.

The pope who thought he might negotiate with Hitler

In the years since Pius XII’s papacy ended, critics have scrutinized his motion, or supposed inaction, through the conflict. Holocaust survivors have lobbied to freeze his sainthood course of.

When the tens of millions of pages within the Pius archives had been opened in 2020, Pope Francis mentioned the Church was “not afraid of history” and that Pius’s papacy had “moments of grave difficulties, tormented decisions of human and Christian prudence, that to some could appear as reticence,” in keeping with PBS.

In his 2022 guide “The Pope at War,” historian and anthropologist David Kertzer argued that Pius put the Catholic Church forward of ethical management, fearful that hostility towards Hitler may trigger the nations to interrupt with the church. Pius XII had additionally initially thought he might negotiate with Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and mood Nazi hatred with diplomacy, the creator wrote. While the pope acted fastidiously amid preliminary issues that Axis powers might ultimately management Europe, Pius XII by no means modified his strategy whilst proof, and pleas for the Vatican to take a stand, mounted.

“As a moral leader, Pius XII must be judged a failure,” the historian wrote.