Wartime Pope begged allies not to bomb Rome

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Pope Pius XII personally wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Second World War to beg him to spare Rome from bombing.

A newly disclosed letter has unveiled the extent of the Vatican's anguish over Allied raids on the city and its cultural and architectural treasures.

The British and Americans began raids on Rome on May 16, 1943. One of the heaviest raids was on July 19, 1943, when more than 500 Allied aircraft bombed railway freight yards, steel factories and an airstrip, causing hundreds of civilian casualties.

During the air assault, tens of thousands of tons of bombs were dropped, for the loss of 600 aircraft and 3,600 aircrew....

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Gabriel Wilensky - 6/11/2010

Pope Pius was certainly preoccupied with protecting Rome. So much so that he seems to have neglected worrying about other things, like protecting lives, preventing mass murder, and saving souls, for instance.

When Berlin’s Bishop Preysing pressured the Pope to speak out against the murder of the Jews, the Pope replied that to him the most pressing issue was maintaining the Church’s unity and the trust of Catholics on either side of the conflict. He also wrote to Preysing that he felt he had to do whatever was necessary, including sacrificing his moral standing, to maintain the safety of Rome. It’s not too surprising then to know that Sir Francis D’Arcy Osborne, the British Ambassador to the Vatican, wrote: “I am revolted by Hitler’s massacre of the Jewish race on the one hand and, on the other, the Vatican’s apparently exclusive preoccupation . . . with the possibilities of the bombardment of Rome.”

Gabriel Wilensky
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