ROME, JAN. 29, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Two documents soon to be published reveal Pope Pius XII’s preferential help for the Jews during the years of Nazi persecution.
The documents would undercut the accusations that Pius XII avoided making express reference to the Jews during the Nazi era.
Susan Zuccotti, history professor at Barnard College in New York, contends in her book “The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy” that there is no proof of Pius XII’s intervention in favor of the Jews.
“Pius XII never used the terms ‘Jew’ or ‘race,'” writes Zuccotti. “The Pope often expressed in general terms his sorrow over the suffering of innocent civilians, but without referring explicitly to the Jews.”
Given these grave accusations, the magazine Inside the Vatican will publish in its forthcoming issue two letters sent by Pius XII in 1940 to Bishop Giuseppe Maria Palatucci of Campagna, in southern Italy, where a major concentration camp was located.
Bishop Palatucci, in cooperation with his nephew Giovanni, chief of police in Fiume, and with the Vatican, looked after the Jews interned in Campagna.
In letter No. 28436 sent by the Vatican on Oct. 2, 1940, the Holy Father donated the sum of 3,000 lire and had it put in writing that “this money is allocated preferably to those suffering for reasons of race.”
In a second letter, No. 31514, the Pope gave the sum of 10,000 lire “to be distributed in aid to interned Jews.” The amounts were considerable at that time.
The letters have just been published in Italy in the book “Giovanni Palatucci, the Policeman Who Saved Thousands of Jews,” edited by the state police.
Last Oct. 9, Cardinal Camillo Ruini opened the cause of beatification of Giovanni Palatucci. In 1990, he was proclaimed by Israel “Righteous Among the Nations,” and a street in Tel Aviv has been named after him.