The Catholic Anti-Defamation League of Italy published a strong criticism of the comments by the former president of the Italian Hebraic Communities, Amos Luzzatto, who ridiculed Pius XII in an interview with “Corriere della Sera.”
Luzzatto attacked Pius XII saying that he, “never publicly opposed the mass exterminations…never said one word against the ghetto assault that took place” and “even that the German ambassador to the Holy See claimed the Vatican would not protest.”
In a press release the Catholic Anti-Defamation League of Italy pointed out that the telegram from the German ambassador cited by Luzzatto “is dated October 28, 1943, and therefore came after, not before, the assault on the Jewish ghetto in Rome.
After the raid on the Jewish ghetto, the German Ambassador Von Weizsäcker was called to the Vatican immediately by Secretary of State Cardinal Maglione, who asked on behalf of the Pope that the raid be stopped, “in the name of humanity and of Christian charity.”
On October 17, Von Weizsäcker informed German Chancellor Ribbentrop that the reaction from the Vatican against the raid was harsh and that “comparisons have begun to be made between this Pope and the more energetic Pius XI.”
The British ambassador to the Vatican, Osborne, told his government on October 31, 1943, that the reaction of the Pope to the deportation of the Jews was strong and that due to Vatican intervention many were set free.
When Pius XII, was warned by Princess Pignatelli of the Nazi plans, he quickly intervened through two German religious and through the protest of Cardinal Maglione. Two hours after the intervention, the raid on the ghetto was suspended and 4000 Jews found refuge in convents and Catholic schools.
In order to avoid accusations by the Jews against him, Von Weizsäcker maintained his story after the war that Pius XII did nothing, while the British kept to their own version of the events.
The Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, publicly recognized the role Pius XII played in saving the News, including his contribution to collecting 50 kilos of gold demanded by General Kappler as a condition for stopping the massive deportation.
The League has offered documents in Italian backing up its arguments on its website at www.cadl.it.
In its statement the League said, “The statements by Amos Luzzatto seem to overlook the extensive documentation historians have gathered up to now, in addition to the numerous and authorized testimonies that the Jewish community and the Israeli government have expressed since 1944 in tribute to Pope Pacelli.”
“The repeated and vigorous attempt to obscure the venerated memory of the great Pontiff Pius XII is shocking,” the statement indicated. The League said it hoped “statements not in accord with the historical truth and that lend arguments to those who breathe hatred against the Church would be avoided.”