Page 1, 6th July 1945

6th July 1945
Page 1
Page 1, 6th July 1945 — Publication Of Vatican-Nazi Letters Reveals The Stand Of The Holy See Against Nazism

Report an error

Noticed an error on this page?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it.


Locations: Rome, Katowice


Related articles

Hitler's Plans To 'crush' Church

Page 1 from 7th August 1987

Secret Papers Vindicate Pope Pius Xii, Says Jewish Scholar

Page 1 from 21st July 2000

Diplomat Calls On Vatican To Shelve Cause Of Pius Xii

Page 5 from 3rd November 2006

Pius Xii And The Cardinal's Missing Letter

Page 2 from 3rd April 1964

Church Will Not Bow Before Idols

Page 2 from 26th February 1965

Publication Of Vatican-Nazi Letters Reveals The Stand Of The Holy See Against Nazism

The publication of correspondence and verbal ,notes between the Holy See and Hitler's Government continues to reveal the stand taken by the Vatican against. Nazi presumption.

In three historical chapters, now made public, the firmness as well as the finesse of Vatican diplomacy are illustrated.

They concern the German protests against a pre-war anti-Nazi speech of Cardinal Mundelein; Nazi attempts to control the nomination of prelates in occupied countries; and the Vatican protests, unfortunately for the most part unavailing, against the persecution in Poland.

First detailed indications of the attitude of the Holy See towards Nazi. Germany are now being furnished by the publication in Rome of correspondence and verbal notes between the Vatican and Hitler's Reich. .


One of the cattiest chapters goes back to 1937 when Germany threatened to break diplomatic relations with the Holy. See unless it rebuked Cardinal Mundelein. for an anti-Nazi speech.

Cardinal Pacelli, Papal Secretary of State, met this hysterical. challenge— couched in a note of no little impeitinence—with a calm counter-demand, namely, to know what the Nazi Government had done and was going to do to put an end to the vicious attacks upon the Church and C.atholic personalities then being endured in the Reich.

Thc Papal Secretaly of State .pointed out that Cardinal Mundelein was a citizen a the United States and that the German Government had accepted in silence its failure to get any satisfaction from the American Department of State, " Without wishing to discuss the intervention with the Government of the United States," the Papal Secretary of State replied, " the Holy See nevertheless cannot fail to observe that the use of two different measures is more than tinu.suaj. All the more so because that part of the speech to which the German Government has taken the strongest exception was beyond the domain of ecclesiastical politics and contained statements and remarks of quite another nature by a prominent American citizen, who obly made use of his constitutional rights as guaranteed him by the Constitution of his country when hc referred so some facts which are publicly known."

Four days after this Cardinal Pacelli replied to the German Ambassador that he would not be able to take a position with regard to the matter before having reeived a clear, definite and satisfactory reply to the following question: " What has the German Government done, what does it propose to do in the future, against the base invectives and defamations, against the vituperous calumnies which are repeated every day through the daily newspapers and periodicals, as well as in the speeches of prominent personaliites, against the Church, ecclesiastical institutions, the Pope the Cardinals, the Bishops. the priests and others ?"

THE APPOINTMENT OF BISHOPS, Between 1940 and 1942 the Vatican rebuffed the victorious Reich when the latter attempted to extort from the Holy See the privilege of vetoing the appointment of Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries, not only in Germany itself, but also in occupiedterntory, including Poland.

The German Ambassador to the Holy See as early as July, 1940, declared verbally to the Papal Secretariate of State that the episcopal Sees, both in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and in Poland, would have to be conferred on German priests or at least on priests of German origin. Later it insisted that it must have its objections of a general political character heard before the conferring of the offices of Archbishop, Bishop, Coajutor with the right of succession in the entire new territory or the Reich, together with Alsace Lorraine, Luxembourg and also of the General Government area (Generalgouvernement) in Poland.

In answering these demands with another verbal note, Cardinal Luigi Maglione, then Papal Secretary of State, began by reminding the German Government that the Holy See, " ammated as it is by the liveliest desire to secure, as far as it is 'concernEd, the genuine welfare of the German people, has been, and still is, sincerely disposed to do everything that it can, within the range of its rights and obligations, to improve the relations between the Church and the German Reich."

Yet, the Papal Secretariate of State pointed out, " the relations between Church and State in Germany arc still far indeed from being what they ought to he, as, alas, is made manifest by the measures and acts which continue to multiply both in the territory of the Reich and in the occupied and annexed countries, measures and acts which gravely violate the rights of the CAurch, being contrary not only to esetsting Concordats and to the principles of international law ratified by the Seend Hague Conference, but often—and this is much more grave—to the very fundamental principles of divine law, both natural and positive."

" Furthermore," the note of the Vatican Secretariate of State continues, " the Holy Sec holds as a norm and constant practice of law. 'of prudence and of respect, determined by the highest moral and juridical principles. not to proceed, whatever agreements or privileges be asked for by States, to innovations in the religious life of a country, in whatever way occupied or annexed in consequence of military operations, except when at the conclusion of hostiliteis the new conditions are formally recognised in the peace treaties or by the competent international organisms that may exist."


A Memorandum of the Secretariate of State to the German Ambassador, dated October 8, 1942, reveals the Pope's concern ovel the position of re

ligion in occupied Poland. It also shows that the Holy See called upon Cardinal Bertram to give special attention to the spiritual plight of the Polish workers brought into GEMS" smAY

tangled skein of interrelating Nazi governmental organisation had tepeatedly foiled the appeals and protests of the, German Bishops in this and other matters.

" For quite a long time the religious situation in the region called Warthegau, gives cause for very grave and ever increasing anxiety," the nriemotandurn to the German Embassy begins. " There, in fact, the Epiecopate has been little by little almost completely eliminated; the Seculai and legular clergy have be-en reduced to proportions that are absolutely inadequate, because they have been in large part deported and exiled ; the education of clerics has been forbidden; the Catholic education of youth is meeting with the greatest opposition; the nuns have been dispersed ; insurmountable obstacles have been put in the way of affording people the help of religion ; very many churches have been elos;id Catholic intellectual and charitable

institutions have been destioyed ; ecclesiastical properly has been seized.

" In the provinces which were declared annexed to thc German Reich and joined up with the Gaut of the East Prussia, of Danzig-West Prussia and of Upper Silesia the use or the Polish mother-tongue in sacred functions, charitable works, associatione of Catholic Action arc prohibited and the separation of the faithful according to nationality decreed. There, UM, Otic Mst deplore the closing of churches to public worship, the exile, deportation, the violent death of trot a few of the clergy (reduced by twothirds in the Diocese o! Culma and by at least a third in the Diocese of Katowice). the suppression of religious When Cardinal Maglione wrote. to Cardinal Bertram in behalf of Polish workers who had been taken into Germauy, where the German civil authorities " had forbidden or made very difficult , the rulfilment of their thligious duties," Cardinal Bertram had to answer: c Your Eminence knows very well the greatest ilitlicuey in the way of opening negotiatione ones from the overruling authority which the ' National Socialist Party Chancery ' excicises in relation to the Chancery of the Reich and to the single Reich Ministries. This Parteikanflei ' driects the course to be followed by the State, whereas the Ministries and the Chancery of the Reich are obliged and compelled to adjust their decrees to these direotione. Besides, there is the fact that the ' Supreme Office for the Security of the Reich ' called the ' Reichssicherhcitshauptamt ' enjoys an apthority whteh precludes all keel action and , all appeals . ,

" This hastily sketched interrelation of authorities is the reason why many of the petitions and protests made by the Bishops to the Ministries have been foiled. Even if we present our complaints to the so-called Supreme Security Office, there is rarely any reply; and when there is, it is negative.

" On a number of vary grave and fundamental issues we have also presented our complaints to the Supreme Leader of the Reich (Fuehrer). Either no answer is given. or it is apparently edited by the above-mentioned Party Chancery, which does not consider itself bound by the Concordat made with the Holy See."

blog comments powered by Disqus