Father Peter Gumpel, the promoter of Pope Pius XII’s cause of beatification, revealed this week that he has uncovered new proof of the Pope’s efforts to protect Jews from the Nazis. The evidence consists of a note from the archives of a Roman monastery that mentions an order from the Holy Father to give shelter to persecuted Jews.
In statements to Vatican Radio, Father Gumpel said the note from the archives of the Augustinian Nuns of the Roman Monastery reads: “The Holy Father wishes to save his children, the Jews as well, and orders that the Monasteries provide hospitality to these persecuted people.” The note is from November of 1943 and includes a list of 24 people taken in by the monastery in response to the Holy Father’s request.
Father Gumpel said the importance of the find is that it is a written document.
“There are numerous oral testimonies, not only of nuns and priests, but also of others” about the work of Pope Pius XII, but “often there is a lack of contemporary written statements, which has provided those who continue attacking Pius XII the opportunity to respond with, ‘There are no documents that he ever acted during the raids against the Roman Jews on October 16, 1942.”
“This is completely false; the only thing it reveals is that in times of persecution and in situations like those of that time in Rome, a prudent person did not put things into ‘black and white,’ as there was a danger that they would fall into enemy hands and that later on even more hostile measures would be taken against the Catholic Church,” the priest said.
“The saving work of Pius XII,” he went on, “which many Jewish fronts bore witness to, was carried out through personal messengers—priests—who were sent to different institutions and Catholic homes here, in Rome, to universities, seminaries, parishes, convents, religious homes, always with the message: ‘Open your doors to all those persecuted by the Nazis,’ which first of all would mean the Jews.”
Father Gumpel said there are many who claim they would believe “in the work of Pius XII in support of the Jews if only we had a written document.’ Well, two written documents exist: one was sent to Bishop Nicolini of Assisi, who showed it to his collaborator, Father Brugnazzi; both were recognized afterwards by the Yad Vashem as ‘righteous among the nations’.”
“Here in Rome,” he said, “we now have this document from the archives of the Augustinian Cloistered Nuns” as “a subsequent confirmation that could be useful against those who persistently denigrate Pius XII and attack the Catholic Church.”