The Right Coast

January 11, 2005
Memogate for Catholics
By Tom Smith

Bloggers have perhaps been worried, what with CBS announcing they have a new VP in charge of following the elephant with a broom and pail, that the MSM won't be making any stupid mistakes to correct any more. Granted, it will be hard to match reporting risably fraudulent documents as a scoop in the middle of a hotly contested Presidential election, but you can try.

If you wanted to be elected something, besides President, what would it be? Pope, you say? But what if you were already had been a Pope, and now in fact you were dead, then what? Then you would want to be a saint, assuming you still cared about earthly honors, which you probably don't. Indeed, you may wish you had cared less about them when you had the chance, but that's another story.

Here we have the New York Times reporting on the policy of Pius XII, who was Pope during WWII, of the Church's policy regarding Jewish children after the war. The Times accuses the aspiring saint of an icy, insensitive policy that refused to return Jewish children who had been adopted in some cases by Christian parents (it's unclear exactly what all the bad acts were) to their parents after the war, and similar bad acts. This is supposedly documented by a memo that has been discovered, by some unidentified historian, in a French church archive.

You have got to love this document. Unusual for official pronouncements of the Vatican, it is not on Vatican letterhead. This is odd. My mother was once asked by some Vatican official to provide a confidential evaluation of a candidate for bishop. The package came with wax seals, ribbons, and even an assertion that to violate the confidentiality of the letter would be a grave sin. Whatever you think about the Vatican, they can do stationery. But this memo doesn't say from whom it comes. Even email tells you that. It just states that Vatican policy is not to return Jewish children who have been baptized, and is insensitive about the Holocaust. It is also in French, which last I checked was not the official language of the Holy See.

The provenance of this document? An unidentified source. But a supposedly well known historian is willing to say that he knows the guy who found it, and he is a serious historian. Oh, well, I guess that's OK then.

The Jesuit at the Vatican in charge of the canonization procedure for Pius declares deep in the body of the piece, "there is something fishy" about the document. And not in the fisher of men sense. In the sense of, smells really bad. In the sense of, what you wrap with the New York Times before you throw it out.

Just to state the obvious, a document that does not even purport to come from an official body, is not in the language used by that official body, and was unearthed by someone who refuses to be identified, is not evidence of anything.

Here's my suggestion. Why not post a facsimile of the document on the Web. It won't be memogate, but if it's laser printed, that would tell us something.

It may be that Pius XII was no saint, and not even a good pope. I at least would like the opportunity to learn about him from people who feel just a slight obligation toward historiographical standards. I stopped reading the ridiculous hatchet job Hitler's Pope, shortly after it constructed a theory that before he was pope, Pius was responsible for starting WWI. (I thought that was Reagan.) (Apparently, Cornwell no longer stands by the book.)

This may be an irrelevant thought, but it would be interesting to know what the people who are so keen to blame the Church for the Holocaust (and granted, there is plenty to go around), think of the state of Israel. Something tells me they are probably pretty open minded about killing Jews now, as long as you're a "militant."