By Andrea Gagliarducci (Vatican City, Jan 22, 2015 / 05:44 pm)
An Italian historian has found evidence that Venerable Pius XII’s order to open the doors to Jewish refugees was delivered to two enclosed monasteries in Rome, L’Osservatore Romano wrote on Wednesday.
In its Jan. 21 issue, the Vatican newspaper mentioned the latest paper of the historian Antonello Carvigiani published in the magazine “Storia Contemporanea.”
As no written order from Pius XII to Roman churches and convents to welcome those persecuted for political or racial reasons has been found, Carvigiani maintains that he had found “evidence of a written or oral order, though written with a standard formula, that was delivered to all religious houses in Rome, as well as to all parishes and ecclesiastical structures.”
This order should be Pius XII’s letter that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then Secretary of State, mentioned on Apr. 17, 2007, speaking about of an order from the late Pope that “was never made public.”
Pius XII’s beatification cause has been challenged in some Jewish quarters, which charge that he was silent about the Holocaust and did not do enough to resist the Germans.
When Bl. Paul VI started the beatification process in 1967, nine years after Pius XII’s death, he formed a committee of historians to conduct an in-depth study of his predecessor’s life and behavior, giving particular attention to the events of World War II.
The committee was made up of four Jesuits: Fathers Pierre Blet (France), Angelo Martini (Italy), Burkhart Schneider (Germany), and Robert A. Graham (United States).
Their work led to the publication of “Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale” (Acts and Documents of the Holy See related to the Second World War), an 11-volume collection of documents from the Vatican’s Secret Archive about Pius XII’s papacy during the war.
The completed catalogue will include approximately 16 million documents from Pius XII’s papacy, which lasted from 1939 to 1958.
Benedict XVI initially decided to postpone Pius XII’s cause for sainthood, and advocated waiting until the archives would be open for researchers in 2014.
But Benedict changed his mind and declared Pius XII Venerable on Dec. 19, 2009, based on the recommendation of the committee investigating his cause.
Pacelli’s cause has not moved forward since, but Carvigiani’s discoveries may be decisive to move the cause forward.
Carvigiani looked into the unpublished chronicles of the cloistered Roman monasteries Santi Quattro and Santa Susanna.
According to Carvigiani, the chronicles reveal “there is a very authoritative source who asked the monasteries to open the cloister and to hide all the people wanted by Nazis, especially the Jews.”
“From the text, one may assume that this order comes from the Pope and is said in oral form to the two monasteries (of Santa Susanna and Santi Quattro Coronati), as well as one may assume that (this order) is delivered to all the religious institutions of Rome.”
Hence, “it is possible to hypothesize that a written paper, delivered in hundreds of copies, was delivered to all the religious institutions in Rome.”