.- Documents emerging from the Vatican's archives demonstrate that Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, defended anti-Nazi clergy and censored priests who expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, a German historian said Wednesday.
German church historian Hubert Wolf told The Associated Press that the recorded minutes of Vatican meetings held in the late 1930s show that the ailing Pope Pius XI greatly relied on Cardinal Pacelli, then Secretary of State, to enforce his Pontificate's stance against Nazism and Fascism.
"The Pope would just make a blessing and say 'our secretary of state will find a solution'," Wolf told the AP about what he saw in the first few documents he had seen among the millions opened up by the Vatican on Monday.
The archives, which span from 1922 to 1939, may offer some answers into the controversy surrounding the cardinal who later became Pope, and who has been accused by some historians of failing to do enough to protect Jews during the Holocaust. The Vatican has insisted Pius XII used discreet diplomacy that saved thousands of Jews.
Wolf also saw documents relating to the strong anti-Nazi statements Chicago’s Cardinal George Mundelein made in 1937. The documents showed a flurry of discussion between the Pope, Cardinal Pacelli and 10 other cardinals as to how the Vatican should respond to the protests of Hitler’s administration. The Vatican’s communications centered on whether the Vatican should blame the U.S. cardinal or exonerate him. It was Cardinal Pacelli, who to the dismay of the Nazis was successful in pushing for a reply to German authorities that defended Cardinal Mundelein, saying he had simply exercised freedom of speech within his diocese.
The Vatican archive also includes extensive documents regarding Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna’s 1938 endorsement of the German annexation of Austria. Cardinal Pacelli reportedly responded to this situation with harsh communications, ordering Cardinal Innitzer to report to Rome. The meeting in Rome resulted in a retraction of the pro-Nazi statement.