Jesuit's archive adds to evidence showing Pius XII to be ‘greatest hero of World War II’

Jesuit's archive adds to evidence showing Pius XII to be ‘greatest hero of World War II’

Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII

.- The Pave the Way Foundation has told CNA that the archives of the late Fr. Robert Graham S.J., who was the Vatican's top expert on the wartime role of Pope Pius XII, will add to the evidence showing Pope Pius XII to be “the greatest hero of World War II.”

The Vatican has been collecting evidence of Pope Pius XII’s assistance to Jews in Italy, which will be opened in 2013 when its cataloguing efforts are complete.

However, some Jewish groups have accused Pope Pius XII of not doing enough to stop Nazi persecution of Jews in the Holocaust.

The non-sectarian Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF), based in New York City, will have exclusive access to the documents of Fr. Graham.

On its website the Pave the Way Foundation says it is “dedicated to achieving peace by closing the gap in tolerance, education and the practical relations between religions, through cultural, technological and intellectual exchanges. We strive to eliminate the use of religion as a tool which, historically has been used, by some, to achieve personal agendas and to cause conflicts.”

CNA contacted PTWF for comment and spoke with Gary Krupp, who is president of the Pave the Way Foundation.

Krupp told CNA that Fr. Dennis McManus will head the analysis team, probably in Washington, D.C.

Fr. McManus, a visiting professor of theology and interreligious studies at Georgetown University, is also a Consultant on Jewish Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The research team will first digitize the documents and then assemble them, as they are in disarray. Once the documents are assembled and analyzed, they will be published on the Internet in order “to end this problem between Jews and Catholics,” said Krupp, who is Jewish.

Krupp said the digital version of many of the documents will be available in the Education section of the PTWF website, and that many related documents are already on-line.

However, Fr. Graham's Archive includes 25,000 pages of original documents and testimony never before seen.

According to a summary on the PTWF website written by Fr. McManus, the Graham Archive includes:

“(1) government demarches; (2) media reports; (3) eyewitness accounts, taken either by Graham himself or offered in signed format by others; (4) personal interviews; (5) summaries of books and other studies on the papacy of Pius XII and (6) classified and unclassified military and diplomatic reports from field officers in embassies and chanceries from across Europe.”

The documents studied by the foundation are under the control of the Jesuits. Krupp said the Vatican archives are sealed because canon law requires cataloguing to be completed, though the process has been accelerated by papal order.

However, the archives of the papacy of Pope Pius XI have been completed and contain much information relevant to the work his successor did until 1939.

“Of the critics who have accused Pius XII, nobody has come to the Vatican archives to see what was open until 1939, which represents a great percentage of his public life.”

Krupp said that German historian Michael Hesemann has been investigating the open archives. Each time he enters the archive, Krupp said, he comes out with an “astounding” document about Pius XII fighting anti-Semitism or saving Jewish lives.

“This information is so readily available, but nobody has gone to look,” he said, saying historians and critics of Pius XII’s pontificate do not have to wait for the sealed archives to open when they have “so much material they can look at.”

“That’s the disappointing part.”

Krupp told CNA that PTWF’s purpose is to address non-theological obstacles between religions, and allegations surrounding Pope Pius XII have been “one of greatest obstacles.”

“I put in two years of investigation before deciding to take this project on,” he said. He advised people to go to the archives of the New York Times or the Palestinian Post and search on the keywords “Pope” and “Jews” from 1939 to 1958.

“You will not find one negative article about this man,” he said, speaking of Pius XII. “If he was such an evil ‘Hitler’s Pope,’ you would find so much negativity.

“This man hated Hitler, despised him, and Hitler felt the same way about him.

“A final solution was planned for the Catholics as well as the Jews and the Vatican knew about this, he said, pointing to recent revelations about the Vatican’s plans to set up a papacy-in-exile in Portugal in the event of Pope Pius XII’s detention by the Nazis.

The evidence, he said, was “against every belief that Pius was anti-Semitic” and caused him to change his mind.

“I was angered because I grew up hating him. This discovery was a personal affront to me because I trust historians to report history correctly. When a historian makes a mistake like this, it’s like a moral sin,” Krupp told CNA.

“This man was actually the greatest hero of World War II. He saved more Jews than any other religious leaders combined.

“Even under threat of being kidnapped and killed, he tried to stop the arrest of Roman Jews. He managed to save all Jews of Rome except 1,000. In one day he hid 6,000 Jews, supported and fed them.

“This black legend will end,” Krupp continued, saying the documents would provide a “flood” of new information that will create an “absolute 180 degree turn” in the Pope’s reputation among his detractors.

“There are too many anti-Semites already. We don’t need to invent anti-Semites where none exist.”

Krupp told CNA that the KGB used Rolf Hochhuth’s play The Deputy to smear Pius XII as a silent bystander in the Holocaust. He said one historian has called the play “The greatest character assassination of the twentieth century.”