He added that the memo "warns not to draw premature conclusions on the new information, [stating]: 'It is necessary to assure that they are true, since exaggerations happen easily, also among Jews.' With other words: Trust but verify!"
"For Wolf, this is evidence for the Vatican's anti-Semitism during the pontificate of Pius XII. For him, it means, and this is how he paraphrases it in several interviews with German media: 'All Jews are liars," Hesemann said.
"But it means nothing like that, Hesemann said, explaining that the memo was intended to urge caution against any exaggeration.
"And indeed the Jewish Agency's report contained several rumors which were not true at all, as we know today. It claimed that 'in all Eastern Poland and the occupied Russian territories, not a single Jew is alive anymore.' We know that thousands survived in the underground or became partisans."
"No government in the world would act on a single report, but waits for an independent verification – that's why President Roosevelt asked the Vatican, in the first place," Hesemann added.
In either case, Hesemann said, the memo "did not influence papal policy, which remained the same before and after, nor does it contain any new information. It is one man's reminder to trust and to verify and nothing more."
The memo is not included in an 11-volume cache of Vatican documents from the Second World War. To Wolf, this is a reason to be skeptical about the volumes, according to the Washington Post.
But to Hesemann, the memo was not included "not because of a Vatican cover-up, but because it's irrelevant."
Hesemann cautioned that Wolf, who has "promoted conspiracy theories" about Pius XII in the past "draws premature conclusions, blames the Vatican of a cover-up and creates sensationalist headlines," to further "his own agenda," namely, "stop the ongoing beatification process of Pius XII – at least until he and his team have evaluated the last of the pages Pope Francis made available for historical research."
Rylchak pointed out evidence, presented in his book, of Pius XII's concern to oppose the Nazis, which he says was well-recognized by journalists and bishops during the Second World War. He also pointed out that Pius XII, through " a long series of communications with the American bishops," encouraged opposition to Nazi ideology.
"Despite all of this, Wolf would have us believe that Pius did not make his opinion known due to a cover note from a low-level assistant," Rylchak said, calling the assertion "ridiculous."
(Story continues below)
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J.D.Flynn served as Catholic News Agency's editor-in-chief from August 2017 to December 2020.