Page 12, 10th March 1939

10th March 1939
Page 12
Page 12, 10th March 1939 — Letter Which Might Have Brought World War to an End

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Locations: Berlin, Munich, Rome, Cologne


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Letter Which Might Have Brought World War to an End

(Continued from Pogo 9.)

between Italy and Austria, and between Germany and France—there is ground for hope that in view of the immense advantages a a permanent peace with disarmament, the disputants would feel disposed to examine them in a eilMelIlfeLorY isPirite giving due weight to the aspirations of the populations and bringing their particular interests into harmony with the general welfare of the great community of mankind.'

After having referred to the restitution of the independence of Poland and of Armenia, the great Pope of Peace appealed in the most urgent terms to the goodwill of all responsible statesmen.

" Special Peace Agent"

A week before the Pope published his appeal Mgr. Pacelli made the trip to Berlin, where on July 24 he had a long conversation with the new Chancellor of the Reich.

The Nuncio, who is now Pope Pius XII, had been sent to Germany mainly as a special agent for the peace endeavours of the Holy See.

Conditions seemed to be favourable. On July 7 the majority of the Reichstag adopted the famous "Peace Resolution" of the Catholic leader Erzberger, stating that Germany wanted no military conquests, but a " peace of mutual agreement and international reconciliation."

The resolution was desperately fought by General Ludendorff and the military authorities, but eventually the Kaiser had to give in and to accept the resignation of the Chancellor.

When the Pope's peace appeal appeared, the Reichstag appointed a Committee of Seven to consider it, and almost everybody seemed to be prepared to accept peace on the terms suggested by the Holy Father.

Mgr. Pacelli's letter asking for a plain statement about Belgium could easily have been answered in an absolutely satisfactory way—if the Government's views had been the same as those of Parliament. But the Imperial Government did not want to accept the mediation of the Holy See.


For almost four weeks Mgr. Pacelli got no reply at all. Eventually, on September 2.4, Dr. Michaelis wrote that "the Imperial Government is not in a position to meet 'Your Excellency's wish and to make a statement about our intentions regarding Belgium."

Obviously the Chancellor acted against the plain will of the German people and of the Reichstag. It is difficult to say now whether Dr. Michaelis was personally responsible for that scandalous way of letting a chance of peace escape, or whether his advisers or the Kaiser or the General Staff were the main sinners_ At any rate, the resistance of the military and of the Kaiser could have been broken, if the Reichstag had known about Mgr. Pacelli's letter. it was, however, kept in an entire ignorance, culd only in 1929, after the Revolution, the totter which we have reproduced above became known. . . .

There have been long polemics between Dr. Michaelis and the famous Catholic writer, Ritter von Lama, who claimed that Dr. Michaelis wanted deliberately to sabotage the Pope's efforts because he did not want under any circumstances peace through the mediation of the Holy See. At any rate, the failure of peace negotiations in 1917 largely contributed to the subsequent situation in Europe. After having told this story somewhat in detail, a few words about the other activities of Pope Pius XII when he was Nuncio in Munich and Berlin will not be out of place. Mgr. Pacelli had just arrived in Munich when the Archbishop of the Bavarian capital, Cardinal von Hettinger, died.

One of Germany's most famous preachers, the Bishop of Speyer, Mgr. Faulhaber, became his successor. He was Chaplain to the Bavarian Army and in those days rather inclined to exaggerate his patriotic feelings. After the war he became one of the most courageous leaders of the Catholic Peace movement. It is certainly not unfair to attribute that partly to the influence of Mgr. Pacelli, who, for about seven years, lived next door to him and brought him, in 1921, Isla Cardinal's Hat.

What He Saw in Munich

Appointed Nuncio in April, 1917, Mgr. Pacelli saw eighteen months of war, the November Revolution, the Inadncss of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, the inflation, the Hitler revolt of 1925 and many other things, while ho was Jiving in Munich. He had a chance to observe the development of the Nazi movement right front the beginning and on the spot.

In 1920, the Government of the German Republic, although under Socialist leadership, decided to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See-diplomatic relations which had been suppressed under the Kaiser. Mgr. Pacelli was appointed Nuncio in Berlin as well as in Munich, but he kept his residence in the Bavarian capital where he had to prepare a very important matter : the Bavarian Concordat. In 1924 it was signed, and in 1925 instruments of ratification were exchanged. It was an excellent piece of work, probably more favourable to the Church than any other Concordat ever concluded.

Concordat with Prussia

In Berlin Mgr. Pacclli concluded another Concordat with Prussia. It was certainly less favourable than the Bavarian treaty, but its conclusion was much more important: Bavaria is a Catholic country, and the Government was controlled by Catholics. In Prussia, however, two-thirds of the population are Protestants, and the Government was under Social Democratic leadership. In spite of opposition from some Socialists, the negotiations came to a good end, and in the Prussian parliament Socialists, Liberals and Catholics voted for the Concordat, while Nationalists, Nazis and Communists Voted against. Mgr. Pacelli was extremely popular in Germany, where he lived for over twelve years. He used to travel very much and to attend the Congresses and Conferences of Catholic organisations, where he delivered all his speeches in excellent German.

As Dean of the Diplomatic Corps he was very much esteemed in the diplomatic circles of Berlin, where he lived from 1925 to 1929. When he was appointed Cardinal in 1929, the German Press was unanimous in praising his extraordinary qualities and in saying that perhaps Cardinal Paceili might become one day Head of the Church and Father of Christendom. . .

Farewell Parade

The farewell torch parade which. the Catholics of Berlin gave in his honour on the night before Cardinal Pacelli left for Rome was something unique in the history of the German capital.

As Secretary of State, Cardinal Pacelli was intimately associated with all the efforts of Pope Pius XI for religious welfare and peace in Germany. He had known for a long time Herr von Papen and had handed over to him in 1923 his appointment as Papal Chamberlain of the Cape and Sword. It was certainly not without grave anxiety that he signed the Reich Concordat in 193—because he knew the Nazis as well as Herr von Papert. But he hoped, as everybody did at that moment. that the worst could be avoided.

Personal Intervention

Cardinally Pacelli intervened personally in the German Church struggle by a message which he sent in March, 1935, to Cardinal Schulte, Archbishop of Cologne, who was then celebrating his silver jubilee as a Bishop.

Here are the most striking passages from Cardinal Pacelli's message : "When in the purely human and temporal sphere obsolete forms of existence disappear in favour of new developments, one may consider that as an interior law of all creatures, a law which brings suffering, but which must not surprise us. For the sufferings of the transition period we may find consolation in the hope—which is at least possible, if it is not always certain— that we may pass through the hour of birth of something better.

" When in Satanic pride false prophets arise pretending to he the bearers of a new Creed and a new Gospel that is not the Gospel of Christ; when their hands are laid irreverently and violently on that which the Holy and Revealing God has bestowed on us in the Religion of Christ as a supernatural and final treasure of belief and life; when the Holy Church as guardian of the true religion, and its supreme Pontiff are made the target of outrageous attacks; when the lying attempt Is made to trump up an antagonism

between loyalty to the Church Of Christ and loyalty to the earthly Fatherland, which does not and cannot exist so long as every earthly power remains conscious of it own subjection to the kingly sceptre of the Son of God; then has the hour struck at which the Bishop, who Is a shepherd and no hireling, must in virtue of his office and his oath, raise his voles and fearlessly and inexorably repeat the words of the Apostle before the High Council, ' Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. . ."

" The question whether the Bishop serves his people by the accomplishment of his apostolic duty of truth and by denouncing those who itet the obstinate blindness of their neopayanism want to eliminate. the CTO,58 of Christ from among the s:ymbols of their people, this question is fortunately not decided by the shortsighted passion of the day, but by the Eternal God!"

These words were written by Cardinal Fanelli four years ago. They are still true to-day, and German Catholics do not forget them.

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