ROME, MAR. 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- If Adolf Hitler had wished to visit the Vatican, Pius XI would have had the Führer first ask publicly for forgiveness for persecuting the Catholic Church in Germany.
Pius XI regarded Hitler as “the greatest enemy of Christ and of the Church in modern times,” and compared the Führer to an Antichrist.
“The persecution against the Catholic Church in Germany was his work, wholly and solely his, enough was already known about it to be able to state it without fear of a denial,” the Pope said.
These revelations have come to light in the correspondence of Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, which has just been reviewed in the archives of the Foreign Ministry in Rome.
The documents go back to the early days of April 1938, one month before Hitler´s trip to Rome. He had been invited by Benito Mussolini. The Nazi leader did not visit the Vatican.
The documents were published by Gianluca Andre, professor of international political history at the University of Rome, in a new volume entitled “Italian Diplomatic Documents,” printed by the State Polygraphic Institute.
Pius XI spoke of a possible visit of Hitler to the Vatican, during a reserved conversation on April 7, 1938, with Bonifacio Pignatti, ambassador of the Fascist government to the Vatican. Ciano and Mussolini were informed by ambassador Pignatti that Pius XI deprecated “the apotheosis of Mr. Hitler” being prepared in Rome.