Pius XII consulted his advisers
By Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo
For five years after his death Pope Pius XII was reputed to be one of
the most intelligent Popes in the history of the Church. His career
as a Holy See diplomat and his command of several languages were
appreciated by everyone, and his encyclicals, which included Mystici
Corporis Christi (1943), and Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943), were
admired and studied in all Catholic universities.
He had been responsible for 33 canonizations, perhaps the most
spectacular of which was that of St. Pius X, since no Pope had been
elevated to the altar since Pope St. Pius V, who died in 1572. Pius
XII had also proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. We, in Rome, always considered him a true saint.
Then, suddenly, scandal! Performances of Rolf Hochhuth's Der
Stellvertreter (The Vicar) were staged simultaneously in 1963 in
Berlin, London, New York, and Paris. A real contrived conspiracy!
The play condemned the Pope as a criminal for his silence about
Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews.
In substance, here is the narrative: a Jesuit, Father Fontana, comes
to know, through an SS officer of the Reich, that Hitler has decided
to slaughter the Jews. Father Fontana goes to Rome to urge the Pope
to reveal Hitler's intention to the world. Pope Pius XII refuses.
Frustrated, Father Fontana pins on his cassock the yellow star, the
symbol that all Jews were obliged to wear, and he is deported to
Auschwitz to be gassed.
Very concerned, I questioned my mentor, Cardinal Eugene Tisserant,
about this huge scandal. I was serving as his secretary at that
time. The following is a summary of the notes I have kept. The
cardinal told me that he himself had advised the Pope not to
intervene: "Your Holiness, you have already worked so hard to edit
the encyclical of your predecessor, Pope Pius XI, Mit brennender
Sorge (With burning concern), which spoke out against Germany's
National Socialism and Racism and which was read from all German
Catholic pulpits on Palm Sunday, 1937, two years before the outbreak
of the war.
"Hitler was already preparing to attack Poland, but the encyclical
did not stop his apocalyptic madness then. We are now at war and his
reaction now will be disastrous. Hitler has no respect for Your
Holiness and you cannot stop him. On the contrary, you will move him
to exterminate Catholics as well. If you ask the advice of the
German bishops, I am sure they will implore you to stay away."
Only one or two of his advisers urged the Pope to denounce Hitler's
The cardinal continued, "I also repeated this same advice some years
later, when President Roosevelt of the U.S., through his personal
representative, Myron Taylor, informed the Pope of the extermination
of the Jews. I advised the Holy Father to tell President Roosevelt
that he was in a better position to negotiate with such a dictator,
as the commander-in-chief of the American forces would have more
impact than the Vatican, which has, literally, no army."
Cardinal Tisserant, who was well-versed in 13 languages and familiar
with oriental religions, drew several parallels between Hitler and
fanatical Muslims who felt directed to dominate the world by
violence, destruction, and jihads (holy wars), especially against
Christians and Jews.
For instance, Muslim tradition says that Muhammad's wife, Khadidja,
played an influential role in his religious teachings. When the
Muslim Prophet retreated to an isolated mountain to meditate, she
accompanied him and encouraged him to "hear the voice of Allah" who
wanted him to be his prophet and put down his guidelines for world
dominance in the Koran.
Hitler, while writing Mein Kampf in prison, was advised by Rudolf
Hess, who was born in Egypt and schooled in the principles of
intolerance preached in Islamic warfare. In his book Hitler exalts
the superiority of the Aryan race that must conquer the world by
Teutonic strength. "So acted the Arab sovereigns, and Hitler wanted
to be a prophet for his people" (Rauschning, Hitler m'a dit, p.
Cardinal Tisserant's views on the fanaticism of Hitler and Muhammad
were published in the newspaper La Croix in January 1940. His
warning now seems appropriate, considering the terrorism since Sept.
11, 2001; the jihad of Osama bin Laden; and the training of the
Incidentally, the Arabic word Taliban is similar in meaning to our
words sacristan and altar server; the movement indoctrinates young
children that it is an honour to offer themselves for suicidal
missions in religious wars. The destruction of countless innocent
lives assures them entry into heaven!
Religious leaders can have some influence on secular leaders,
provided they do not interfere with their plans. We know today how
long and hard the Dalai Lama has struggled to obtain independence
China has answered by sending in armed cars and arresting the
protesters. Beijing's brutality and torture has violated human
rights even while attempting to create a better image of themselves
in the eyes of the world by the Olympic Games.
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