Robert Leiber, S.J. (10 April 1887 – 18 February 1967) was a close advisor to Pope Pius XII, a Jesuit priest from Germany, and Professor for Church History at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1930 to 1960. Leiber was, according to Pius's biographer Susan Zuccotti, "throughout his entire papacy his private secretary and closest advisor".
Before 1924, Leiber worked with Ludwig Pastor on the publication of his 20-volume Papal History. From 1924 to 1929, he was advisor to Eugenio Pacelli while he was Nuncio in Munich and in Berlin. While Professor at the Gregorian, he continued advising Pacelli, who was then Cardinal Secretary of State. After Pacelli was elected to the papacy as Pope Pius XII in 1939, Leiber helped and advised him until the Pope's death on 9 October 1958. Leiber is described as Pius XII's "most trusted aide".However he never was a Vatican official. He was a respected and feared "unofficial official". Known in papal Rome as the "little asthmatic", some described him with a Latin quip: Timeo non Petrum sed secretarium eius - "I do not fear Peter [the Pope], but his secretary".
He assisted Pius XII in researching the topics for his speeches and radio messages. Leiber was one of an "impromptu band of willing Jesuits" whom Pius XII employed "checking and double-checking every reference" in his written works.Leiber, stationed at the Pontifical Gregorian University, three miles from the Vatican, complained after Pius XII's death that he was often expected to "drop whatever he was doing and hasten to the Vatican", taking public transportation.
As the Pope's trusted Private Secretary, Leiber acted at the intermediary between Pius XII and the German Resistance. He met with Joseph Müller, who visited Rome in 1939 and 1940 to obtain assistance from the Pope in acting as an intermediary between the Resistance and the Allies in the lead up to a planned coup against Hitler.Later in the war, Leiber remained the point of contact for communications from Colonel-General Ludwig Beck in the lead up to the 1944 July Plot. Through the German ambassador to the Vatican, Ernst von Weizsäcker, Leiber was informed that Nuncio Cesare Orsenigo's priest assistant was secretly a member of the Nazi party and an informer for the RSHA.
After World War II, Pius XII charged Leiber and Bea with investigating the activities of Gertrud Luckner (later declared Righteous among the Nations), the pioneer of a German Catholic philo-Semitic and pro-Israel movement.The Holy Office in 1948 issued a monitum (or warning) to the group, due to concerns that the group's pro-Zionist activities were "encouraging religious indifferentism (the belief that one religion is as good as the next)". Leiber concluded in April 1950 there was nothing theologically wrong with the work of Luckner; Bea went further, actually affirming it.
In an October 1958 meeting, Leiber turned down a position offered by new Pope John XXIII in light of his health, suggesting Augustin Bea instead. He authored several books and articles on Church history and on the Reichskonkordat. After suffering acute asthma attacks for many years, Leiber died in Rome in 1967, aged 79. [ citation needed ]
According to Michael Phayer, Leiber "sparked new life" into Austrian bishop Alois Hudal's plan to set up a "ratline" — an escape route from Europe for Nazis and fascists, including war criminals. Leiber wrote to Hudal around the time of Operation Barbarossa, telling the latter to "look at the [ratline] mission as a crusade".
According to a history professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University [ who? ], Leiber had no direct authority to correspond with Hudal but "[his] role as one of Pius XII's closest confidantes allowed the German Jesuit to act as the pope's intermediary and messenger." Hudal maintained contact with Leiber and other Vatican officials during and after the war. Leiber destroyed all his personal papers before his death, rather than leave them for posterity, confirming to van Room that he had destroyed his papers because he feared they "would cast Pius in an unfavorable light".
After the war, Leiber became actively involved in debates over the legacy of Pius XII during the Holocaust, frequently writing and speaking publicly,always as a staunch defender of Pius XII. Leiber wrote an article, published on 27 March 1963 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the main claim of which was that Pius XII had limited and generally unreliable information about the Holocaust.
As Leiber related to Dutch historian Ger van Roon, Leiber believed that Pius XII chose not to speak out about the Holocaust because he "wanted to play the peacemaker during the war" by maintaining Vatican neutrality and independence.On this point, Leiber and British diplomat Francis d'Arcy Osborne, another contemporary close to Pius XII, were in agreement. During the war, Pius XII surrounded himself with German advisers including Leiber, but also Ludwig Kaas and Pasqualina Lehnert. This attracted the attention of United States Department of State historian George Kent and others, who questioned the pope's neutrality given this apparent Germanophilia.
In 1961, Leiber asserted that Pius personally ordered superiors of church properties to open their doors to Jews. If such orders were ever put into writing (which is unlikely, given the situation), no such written order has been found, prompting some historians to deny the orders. Michael Phayer argues that Catholic institutions in Italy and elsewhere that did admit or help Jews did so "independently, without the Vatican's instructions".For his statistics on the number of Jews he claimed Pius XII to have saved, Leiber relied on fellow Jesuit Beato Ambord; the original compilation of the numbers is unknown.
Above all, Leiber disputed that the disbanding of the German Catholic Centre Party had been a quid pro quo for the signing of the Reichskonkordat .Leiber wrote in 1958 that "[Pacelli] wished that [the party] could have postponed its dissolution until after the signing of the concordat. The mere fact of its existence, he said, might have been of use at the negotiating state".
Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958. Before his election to the papacy, he served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany, and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, such as the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany.
Aloisius Joseph Muench was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Fargo from 1935 to 1959, and as Apostolic Nuncio to Germany from 1951 to 1959. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 1959.
Hitler's Pope is a book published in 1999 by the British journalist and author John Cornwell that examines the actions of Eugenio Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII, before and during the Nazi era, and explores the charge that he assisted in the legitimization of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime in Germany, through the pursuit of a Reichskonkordat in 1933. The book is critical of Pius' conduct during the Second World War, arguing that he did not do enough, or speak out enough, against the Holocaust. Cornwell argues that Pius's entire career as the nuncio to Germany, Cardinal Secretary of State, and Pope, was characterized by a desire to increase and centralize the power of the Papacy, and that he subordinated opposition to the Nazis to that goal. He further argues that Pius was antisemitic and that this stance prevented him from caring about the European Jews.
"Ratlines" were a system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe in the aftermath of World War II. These escape routes mainly led toward havens in Latin America, particularly Argentina though also in Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador and Bolivia, as well as the United States, Spain and Switzerland.
Alois Karl Hudal was an Austrian bishop of the Catholic church, based in Rome. For thirty years, he was the head of the Austrian-German congregation of Santa Maria dell'Anima in Rome and, until 1937, an influential representative of the Austrian Catholic Church.
Cesare Vincenzo Orsenigo was Apostolic Nuncio to Germany from 1930 to 1945, during the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II. Along with the German ambassador to the Vatican, Diego von Bergen and later Ernst von Weizsäcker, Orsenigo was the direct diplomatic link between Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII and the Nazi regime, meeting several times with Adolf Hitler directly and frequently with other high-ranking officials and diplomats.
The relations between Pope Pius XII and Judaism have long been controversial, especially those questions that surround Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. Other issues involve Pius's Jewish friendships and his attitude towards the new state of Israel.
The start of the pontificate of Pius XII occurred at the time of the Second World War and the Nazi Holocaust, which over the course of the war would see the murder of millions of Jews and others by Adolf Hitler's Germany. Pius employed diplomacy to aid the victims of the Nazis during the war and, through directing his Church to provide discreet aid to Jews and others, saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Pius maintained links to the German Resistance, and shared intelligence with the Allies. His strongest public condemnation of genocide was, however, considered inadequate by the Allied Powers, while the Nazis viewed him as an Allied sympathizer who had dishonoured his policy of Vatican neutrality.
Pope Pius XII's response to the Roman razzia, or mass deportation of Jews, on October 16, 1943 is a significant issue relating to Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. Under Mussolini, no policy of abduction of Jews had been implemented in Italy. Following the capitulation of Italy in 1943, Nazi forces invaded and occupied much of the country, and began deportations of Jews to extermination camps. Pius XII protested at diplomatic levels, while several thousand Jews found refuge in Catholic networks, institutions and homes across Italy, including in Vatican City and Pope Pius' Summer Residence. The Catholic Church and some historians have credited this rescue in large part to the direction of Pope Pius XII. However, historian Susan Zuccotti researched the matter in detail and discovered that although the pope was aware of the Holocaust, he did not issue a rescue order. Zuccotti states that there is "considerable evidence of papal disapproval of the hiding of Jews and other fugitives in Vatican properties."
Pope Pius XII's 1942 Christmas address was a speech delivered by Pope Pius XII over Vatican Radio on Christmas 1942. It is notable for its denunciation of the extermination of people on the basis of race, and followed the commencement of the Nazi Final Solution program to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The significance of the denunciation is a matter of scholarly debate.
Catholic bishops in Nazi Germany differed in their responses to the rise of Nazi Germany, World War II, and the Holocaust during the years 1933–1945. In the 1930s, the Episcopate of the Catholic Church of Germany comprised 6 Archbishops and 19 bishops while German Catholics comprised around one third of the population of Germany served by 20,000 priests. In the lead up to the 1933 Nazi takeover, German Catholic leaders were outspoken in their criticism of Nazism. Following the Nazi takeover, the Catholic Church sought an accord with the Government, was pressured to conform, and faced persecution. The regime had flagrant disregard for the Reich concordat with the Holy See, and the episcopate had various disagreements with the Nazi government, but it never declared an official sanction of the various attempts to overthrow the Hitler regime. Ian Kershaw wrote that the churches "engaged in a bitter war of attrition with the regime, receiving the demonstrative backing of millions of churchgoers. Applause for Church leaders whenever they appeared in public, swollen attendances at events such as Corpus Christi Day processions, and packed church services were outward signs of the struggle of ... especially of the Catholic Church - against Nazi oppression". While the Church ultimately failed to protect its youth organisations and schools, it did have some successes in mobilizing public opinion to alter government policies.
Eugenio Pacelli was a nuncio in Munich to Bavaria from 23 April 1917 to 23 June 1920. As there was no nuncio to Prussia or Germany at the time, Pacelli was, for all practical purposes, the nuncio to all of the German Empire.
Dr. Carl-Ludwig Diego von Bergen was the ambassador to the Holy See from the Kingdom of Prussia (1915–1918), the Weimar Republic (1920–1933), and Nazi Germany (1933–1943), most notably during the negotiation of the Reichskonkordat and during the Second World War.
Vatican City pursued a policy of neutrality during World War II, under the leadership of Pope Pius XII. Although the city of Rome was occupied by Germany from Sept 1943 and the Allies from June 1944, Vatican City itself was not occupied. The Vatican organised extensive humanitarian aid throughout the duration of the conflict.
Popes Pius XI (1922–1939) and Pius XII (1939–1958) led the Catholic Church during the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. Around a third of Germans were Catholic in the 1930s, generally in southern Germany; Protestants dominated the north. Although the German Catholic church had opposed the Nazi Party, the Catholic-aligned Centre Party capitulated in 1933. In the 1933 elections, the percentage of Catholics voting for the Nazi Party was lower than the national average. Adolf Hitler and several other key Nazis had been raised Catholic, but became hostile to the church in adulthood; Article 24 of the NSDAP party platform called for conditional toleration of Christian denominations and the 1933 Reichskonkordat treaty with the Vatican purportedly guaranteed religious freedom for Catholics, but the Nazis were essentially hostile to Catholicism. Catholic press, schools, and youth organizations were closed, property was confiscated, and about one-third of its clergy faced reprisals from authorities; Catholic lay leaders were targeted during the Night of the Long Knives. The Church hierarchy tried to cooperate with the new government, but Pius XI's 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge accused the government of hostility to the church.
Pietro Tacchi Venturi was a Jesuit priest and historian who served as the unofficial liaison between Benito Mussolini, the Fascist leader of Italy from 1922 to 1943, and Popes Pius XI and Pius XII. He was also one of the architects of the 1929 Lateran Treaty, which ended the "Roman Question", and recognized the sovereignty of Vatican City, which made it an actor of international relations. A claimed attempt to assassinate Venturi with a paper knife, one year before the treaty's completion, made headlines around the world. Venturi had begun the process of reconciliation by convincing Mussolini to donate the valuable library of the Palazzo Chigi to the Vatican.
The public statements of Pope Pius XII on the Holocaust, or lack thereof, are one of the most controversial elements of the historical debate about Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. Pius XII's statements have been scrutinized as much, if not more, than his actions during the same period. Pius XII's statements, both public and private, are quite well documented in the Vatican Secret Archives; eleven volumes of documents from his papacy were published between 1965 and 1981 in Actes et documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale.
Pius XII, The Holocaust, and the Cold War is a 2008 book by historian Michael Phayer which makes use of documents that had been released under US President Bill Clinton's 1997 executive order declassifying wartime and postwar documents.
Catholic resistance to Nazi Germany was a component of German resistance to Nazism and of Resistance during World War II. The role of the Church during the Nazi years was always, and remains however, a matter of much contention. Many writers, echoing Klaus Scholder, have concluded, "There was no Catholic resistance in Germany, there were only Catholics who resisted." The Vatican policy meant that the Pope never challenged Catholics to side either with National Socialism or with Catholic morality, and Pius XII was so adamant that Bolshevism represented the most terrible threat to the world that he remarked, 'Germany are a great nation who, in their fight against Bolshevism, are bleeding not only for their friends but also for the sake of their present enemies'. In a letter of autumn 1941 Pius XII wrote to Bishop Preysing, "We emphasise that, because the Church in Germany is dependent upon your public behaviour...in public declarations you are duty bound to exercise restraint" and "requires(d) you and your colleagues not to protest."
Several Catholic countries and populations fell under Nazi domination during the period of the Second World War (1939–1945), and ordinary Catholics fought on both sides of the conflict. Despite efforts to protect its rights within Germany under a 1933 Reichskonkordat treaty, the Church in Germany had faced persecution in the years since Adolf Hitler had seized power, and Pope Pius XI accused the Nazi government of sowing 'fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church'. The concordat has been described by some as giving moral legitimacy to the Nazi regime soon after Hitler had acquired quasi-dictatorial powers through the Enabling Act of 1933, an Act itself facilitated through the support of the Catholic Centre Party. Pius XII became Pope on the eve of war and lobbied world leaders to prevent the outbreak of conflict. His first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, called the invasion of Poland an "hour of darkness". He affirmed the policy of Vatican neutrality, but maintained links to the German Resistance. Despite being the only world leader to publicly and specifically denounce Nazi crimes against Jews in his 1942 Christmas Address, controversy surrounding his apparent reluctance to speak frequently and in even more explicit terms about Nazi crimes continues. He used diplomacy to aid war victims, lobbied for peace, shared intelligence with the Allies, and employed Vatican Radio and other media to speak out against atrocities like race murders. In Mystici corporis Christi (1943) he denounced the murder of the handicapped. A denunciation from German bishops of the murder of the "innocent and defenceless", including "people of a foreign race or descent", followed.
|Catholic Church titles|
| Personal Papal Secretary|
Loris Francesco Capovilla