Taking a hand in the controversy over the role played by the late Pope Pius XII with regard to the mass-killing of Jews, the Rev. Robert Leiber, a 79-year-old retired Jesuit priest in Rome, who served as confessor, secretary and confidant to the Pontiff, asserts in an article in the current issue of Look magazine that Pope Pius “helped the Jews as much as he could” during the Nazi horror, and that “he spent his whole private fortune for that purpose.”
“Pius,” said Father Leiber, “spent what he inherited himself, as a Pacelli, from his family. It was not an enormous sum of money. I refer to it only to make it clear that he did what he could.” Father Leiber stated that, aside from raising funds to help the Jews, Pope Pius helped thousands to escape to North and South America when Hitler embarked on his “final solution.” Moreover, according to Leiber, Pope Pius “suspended at that time the clausura rules for all religious communities — nuns, brothers, fathers — in order to permit them to hide as many Jews as possible. Thousands of Jews were saved that way.”
Father Leiber, noting that once Pope Pius considered speaking out against the Nazi horror, said, “at one time, the Pope, as I learned only later, collected material to be used in a protest and then put everything aside. He did that after ample consideration. There were perhaps also other opinions on how to handle the problem. But this was his firm conviction: that it was better to keep silent.”
The Look article also quotes contents of a note, sent to the State Department by Harold H. Tittmann, an American representative to the Holy See in 1942, in which the American diplomat reported: “The Holy See is still apparently convinced that a forthright denunciation by the Pope of Nazi atrocities, at least insofar as Poland is concerned, would only result in the violent deaths of many more people.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.