Pope Tried to Save Slovak Jews from Death Camps, Jesuit Organ Claims

The late Pope Pius XII, head of the Holy See during the Hitler era, had tried to save Slovakian Jews from deportation to the Nazi death camps, an article in the Civilta Cattolica, official organ of the Italian Jesuits, asserted in its latest issue. The importance attributed to the article, written by a well-known priest, Rev. Fiorello Cavalli, was pointed up by the fact that Osservatore Romano, official organ of the Vatican, devoted an entire page to reprint it.

In general, large sections of the Catholic press here, unofficial as well as official, have been paying much attention to the Jewish problem since the Eichmann case started garnering world-wide attention. While most of the more responsible Catholic press is sympathetic to the sufferings of the Jewish victims of the holocaust, there are some Catholic papers that have used the Eichmann trial as an opportunity to spread anti-Semitic doctrines. Such expressions, however, are in newspapers which more responsible Catholics consider part of the “fanatic fringe.”

According to Civilta Cattolica, Pope Plus XII called the Minister of Slovakia-to the Vatican in 1942, when the deportation of the Slovakian Jews was announced, and insisted that the orders be revoked. Further steps to save the remainder of the Slovakian Jews, 70, 000 of whom had already been deported by that time, were reportedly taken by Pope Pius XII in 1943. After the Nazis invaded Slovakia, in 1944, Rev. Cavalli stated, the Pope made one final effort, “with particular attention to the lot of Jews in Slovakia and Hungary, and nothing was left undone or untried to bring them to comfort.”

In addition to reprinting the Civilta Cattolica article, Osservatore Romano itself continued to discuss the Jewish problem and the implications of the Eichmann trial. In an article signed by the initials of the organ’s editor-in-chief, Raimondo Manzini, the plea was voiced that not all Gentiles be accused of anti-Semitism, while the evils done by some Christians are recalled in connection with the Eichmann trial.

The “fanatic fringe” newspapers that are pursuing largely anti-Semitic lines are Better World, published by some influential Jesuits, and The Voice of Justice, published at Turin. According to the Voice of Justice, the persecutions suffered by Jews through any centuries were not undeserved, due to the Jewish “deicide” and the fact the Jews are a “god-killing people.” The periodical declared that the Eichmann trial “is another form of Jewish blindness.”

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