A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
JEWISH RECOGNITION OF POPE PIUS XII's SUPPORT
Document Reveals Generous Jewish Donation to Catholic Church Following WWII
ROME, 30 JUL 1999 (ZENIT).
Contrary to some recent historical readings, which tend to picture Pius XII as silent, if not condescending, on the question of Nazi anti-Semitism, a document has been discovered in Israel that not only confirms Pius XII's role in defense of persecuted Jews, but reveals that world leaders of the Jewish communities at the time were very aware of his action, to the point that after the war they came to Rome and gave the Catholic Church a very generous donation.
The document was discovered by Lorenzo Cremonesi, the Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera's" Jerusalem correspondent, who is completing a book on the history of Israel's relations with the Holy See. Cremonesi spoke about his discovery to the magazine "Tempi," sympathetic to the Communion and Liberation movement. While examining the Israeli archives, Cremonesi found a letter from the Vatican, dated October 27, 1945, signed by Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini -- the future Paul VI, who at the time worked in the Secretariat of State; it was addressed to Raffaele Cantoni, President of the Italian Jewish communities. In the letter, Montini gave detailed information on a conversation between Pius XII and Leo Kubwitsky, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress. Montini wrote that during an audience, on behalf of his organization, Kubwitsky gave Pius XII more than one million dollars (at the present value) for "charity works" and expressed "his gratitude to the august Pontiff for his work in support of persecuted Jews."
Montini added, moreover, that Pius XII decided that "the sum should go exclusively to needy persons of Jewish origin." The news has awakened some interest but, as Fr. Peter Gumpel, reporter for Pius XII's beatification cause and an expert in the history of the period, has pointed out, "This is nothing new. It is news that has been published before. And it is only one of hundreds of testimonials of affection and gratitude that different Jewish representatives expressed to Pope Pacelli."
Fr. Pierre Blet, former professor of Ecclesiastical History at the Gregorian, who was one of four persons appointed by Paul VI to compile the "Holy See's Acts and Documents of the Second World War," recalled that in at least three of the twelve volumes of this monumental work, specifically in Nos. 8, 9 and 10, are to be found "all the official documents in which the Jewish communities, the Rabbis of half the world, and other refugees, thank Pius XII and the Catholic Church for all the help and work in their favor." ZE99073005
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