Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Slandered Heroic Pope. I just finished listening to Church of Spies as an audio book.

I had a moment of chill when I got the end of the book and it described how a major figure in the book - Joseph Mueller - had told Harold Tittmann, the American representative to the Vatican during the Nazi occupation of Rome that the reason that Pius didn't speak out about Nazi atrocities was that he had been asked not to do so by the German Resistance.

I've read Tittmann's memoirs and I remember that detail, but when I read it I had no idea who "Dr. Mueller" was and during this book, I had no idea that Tittman's informant was this man who had acted as the courier from Admiral Canaris to Pope Pius XII.

Reading Church of Spies is like finding the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

//My fathers memoirs ended with his move out of the Vatican in July 1944, but it is appropriate to conclude the story of his Vatican assignment by reproducing a memorandum he wrote to Myron Taylor on June 4, 1945, reporting on a conversation with Dr. Josef Mueller, a Bavarian Catholic lawyer who had been a leading figure in the anti-Nazi German underground movement and had acted as the liaison between that movement and the Holy See. My father met Mueller following a speech by the Pope to the College of Cardinals on June 2, 1945, during which the Pope had severely castigated National Socialism and had referred to the deaths of 2000 Catholic priests at Dachau.

FOR THE AMBASSADOR     June 4, 1945

Dr. Mueller told me last night that contrary to what I had heard, he had no part in drafting any part of the Pope’s speech, but that he had furnished the Holy Father with the information on which certain passages were based.

Dr. Mueller said that during the war his anti-Nazi organization in Germany had always been very insistent that the Pope should refrain from making any public statement singling out the Nazis and specifically condemning them and had recommended that the Pope’s remarks should be confined to generalities only. Dr. Mueller said that he was obliged to give this advice, since, if the Pope had been specific, Germans would have accused him of yielding to the promptings of foreign powers and this would have made the German Catholics even more suspected than they were and would have greatly restricted their freedom of action in their work of resistance to the Nazis. Dr. Mueller said that the policy of the Catholic resistance in Germany was that the Pope should stand aside while the German hierarchy carried out the struggle against the Nazis inside Germany, without outside influence being brought to bear. Dr. Mueller said that the Pope had followed this advice throughout the war.

I then said to Dr. Mueller that I had heard rather widespread criticism of the Pope in connection with his latest speech, because he had waited until Germany had been defeated before attacking the Nazis in public. Dr. Mueller said that he had already explained why the Pope had maintained silence during the war. He imagined that the Pope had decided to come out in the open now against the Nazis because the implications in the denunciations were so very important at the present time and seemed to the Pope to override other considerations.//

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