Newly discovered WWII documents favor Pius XII





ROME -- Pius XII, the wartime pontiff often condemned as "Hitler's Pope", was actually considered an enemy by the Third Reich, according to newly discovered documents.

Several letters and memos unearthed at a depot used by the Stasi, the East German secret police, show that Nazi spies within the Vatican were concerned at Pius's efforts to help displaced Poles and Jews.

In one, the head of Berlin's police force tells Joachim von Ribbentropp, the Third Reich's foreign minister, that the Catholic Church was providing assistance to Jews "both in terms of people and financially".

A report from a spy at work in the Vatican states: "Our source was told to his face by Father Robert Leibner [one of Pius's secretaries] that the greatest hope of the Church is that the Nazi system would be obliterated by the war."

La Repubblica, the newspaper that discovered the papers, said they were sent to the heads of the Stasi, after the Second World War.

The revelations they contain will help to clear the name of Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli, who has long been criticised for turning a blind eye to the Holocaust. During the war, the British Foreign Office even described him as the "greatest moral coward of our age".



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