Thursday, 30 August 2012

Israel and the Vatican Secret Archives

Thanks to Chiesa, we learned “that in 2011, 1,321 entrance permits were granted for the Vatican secret archive, to scholars from 54 countries. The most numerous were the Italians (673), followed by scholars from Spain and Germany (102 each), the United States and France (64 each), Britain (30), Poland (35). Scholars also came from Azerbaijan, China, Syria, Togo, Turkey.” 

What was particularly interesting was the last sentence: “None from Israel.”

The original publishers of the document which provided this evidence, the Secretariat of State of Vatican City, found it important to highlight the lack of researchers from Israel. The Vatican ‘secret archives’ are the place, as his critics would argue, where all the documents pertaining to Pope Pius XII’s involvement with the Jewish people during the Second World War.

His opponents, not least the State of Israel, which has criticised the Church’s hope that the late pope should one day be canonised, have argued that Pope Pius failed to ‘do enough’ to save the Jews, and others, from Nazi oppression during the era of fascism. The fact that Pius, during his time as nuncio to Bavaria signed a concordat (an agreement between the Church - both the Holy See and the local churches - and the civil state pertaining to the activities of the former in the jurisdiction of the latter) with the National Socialist government.

In spite of Pope Pius’s support for the Jewish people, particularly during the German occupation of Rome, and the local churches (largely) consistent opposition to Nazism within the Reich itself (such as Blessed Cardinal Galen) - so much so that his activism was the direct cause of the conversion of Rome’s chief rabbi to Catholicism at the end of the war, something always worth remembering - he is still accused of not doing enough. I, and others, fail to see what, exactly, Pope Pius could have done, without leading to the destruction of his office - and probably his person - as well as increased persecution of the local churches, and thereby exposing the hundreds of thousands of people who were being sheltered, or helped in some way, by members of the Holy See. Even though it is fiction, the scene in the slightly saccharine film, ‘The Scarlet and the Black’ features a scene of Pope Pius (played by Sir John Gielgood) talking to the protagonist of the film, which, in many respects, is like the pope talking to us from beyond the grave.

Infamously, the museum dedicated to the Shoah in Israel, Yad Vashem, winner of the Israel Award and the Prince of Asturias Award for the promotion of concord among nations, displayed its public criticism of Pope Pius’s person, defaming his memory and reputation by doing so. While the title of this display was recently changed from ‘Pope Pius’ to ‘The Vatican’, the State of Israel, which is the owner, and, therefore, corporate curator of Yad Vashem, does not actually care about portraying the truth regarding this matter. The so-called ‘secret archives’ are open to the public. Why are Israeli historians, and the Israeli state, not interested in proving their libelous allegations? There are two answers. Either, they are so obstinate to believe that they cannot be wrong. Or, they know that they are wrong, and would be embarrassed to prove to themselves and the Israeli people, that official state policy is a lie.

Either option is a travesty, and a grave offence towards Pope Pius, the Holy See, the whole of Christendom, the civilised world, and, worse of all, an insult to the God of Truth, Who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

There are many Jewish, as well as Gentile, historians who seek to exonerate Pope Pius’ memory - the slight amendment of Yad Vashem’s display indicates to a certain extent, this was successful - and some have nominated Pope Pius to receive Yad Vashem’s highest award: to be declared Righteous Among Nations.

Still Yad Vashem policy - and therefore, Israel’s - is positively anti-Pius and anti-Holy See. So much so, that, when the nuncio to Israel (the unfortunately named Mgr Franco) failed to appear at a diplomatic event some five years ago regarding Yad Vashem’s treatment of Pius, the State of Israel’s memorial museum protested, and called for the ‘secret archives’ to be opened to researchers.

Well, they are now open, but Yad Vashem obviously isn’t interested.

Pope Pius XII. Santo subito.

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