(Source: CD/RISU)

Just before the coronavirus quarantine, the Vatican opened the archives of Pius XII, the Pope during the period from March 2, 1939, to October 9, 1958, that is, during World War II and the Holocaust.

German researchers took advantage of the opportunity and in the process found a letter from Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky dated August 1942 describing the German regime as “overtly diabolical”, an action which under the Nazi occupation was a serious crime.

Such overt wording exposed Sheptytsky to mortal danger, as Zbruch reported.

In a letter to the Pope, Sheptytsky informed the Vatican about the terrible crimes of the Nazis, in particular the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

A month later, American diplomats transferred to the Pope a secret report on the mass murder of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. It stated that about 100,000 people were killed in and around Warsaw, and added that another 50,000 people were killed in Lviv in German-occupied Ukraine.

The report was based on information received from the Geneva office of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Washington wanted to know if the Vatican could confirm this from its sources. But the Vatican told Washington that it could not confirm.

The reason for this negative response, as German researcher Hubert Wolf told Hamburg weekly Die Zeit, was a memorandum by an employee of the Vatican State Secretariat and later cardinal, Angelo Dell’Aqua, who warned against believing the Jewish report, because Jews “easily exaggerate”, while “Easterners” – he referred to Sheptytsky – “aren’t a model of honesty”.

The influential Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post suggested that the new materials may curb the resistance of THE World Holocaust Remembrance Centre Yad Vashem, which considers Sheptytsky a collaborator, and facilitate his recognition as a Righteous Among the Nations, as well as contribute to his beatification by the Catholic Church.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.