Pius XI Snubbed Hitler´s Bid for Papal Audience

Pope Left for Castel Gandolfo Instead, Archives Show

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 23, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Hitler expected to be received at the Vatican during a May 1938 visit, but Pope Pius XI thwarted his plan and took off for Castel Gandolfo, recently published archives indicate.

The publication of the correspondence of Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini´s Foreign Minister, reveals that the Pope, alerted by a Mussolini emissary about the Führer´s intentions, saw the Nazi leader´s request as «a challenge.»

With the agreement of his closest aides, Pius XI let it be known that Hitler could enter the Vatican walls only if he publicly asked for forgiveness for persecuting the Catholic Church in Germany.

Pius XI regarded Hitler as «the greatest enemy of Christ and the Church in modern times,» Ciano´s correspondence shows.

The correspondence was found in the archives of the Farnesina, the headquarters of the Italian Foreign Ministry, by Gianluca Andre, a professor of history of international politics of the University of Rome.

The correspondence dates back to early 1938, one month before Hitler´s trip to Rome, and was published in the book entitled «Documenti Diplomatici Italiani» («Italian Diplomatic Documents»), by the State Polygraphic Institute.

On April 13, 1938, Pius XI had a letter sent from the Sacred Congregation for Seminaries and Universities to university rectors and deans, ordering all professors to help refute the pseudo-scientific truths that Nazism used to justify its racist ideology.

When Hitler arrived in Rome on May 18 for an official visit, Pius XI left for Castel Gandolfo and closed the Vatican Museums, to impede the Nazis from entering.

The Holy Father said he was «saddened to see a flag flying in Rome with a cross that was not Christ´s.»

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