Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ADSS 5.466 Brazilian appeal for a Papal protest

Two days after the Belgian and Polish ambassadors presented their request for a papal condemnation of German atrocities, Idelbrando Accioly, the Brazilian ambassador delivered a similar request from his government.  The document gives a very clear presentation of German crimes in Occupied Europe.  Jews are not named outside of a general reference in paragraph 6 that relays a vague "we have heard rumours" style of comment that whole nations were being exterminated.  

The Brazilian request is unambiguous and reasoned.  It cites an article from a March 1941 edition of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano where the pope was described as impartial but not neutral, as a figure who has no choice but to speak the truth.  Accioly used that reference to urge Pius to speak out against not only German crimes but any others as well.  Given the Vatican's awareness and knowledge of Soviet crimes received from diplomats and bishops in the Baltic States, eastern Poland and Ukraine before June 1941, Accioly's request may well have seemed naive.  Nonetheless, the Brazilian request was powerful in its wording.

ADSS 5.466 

Idelbrando Accioly, Brazilian Ambassador to the Holy See to Cardinal Maglione

Reference: Note 26; AES 6659/42
Location and date: Vatican, 14.09.1942

Summary statement: The Brazilian government asks the Pope to publicly condemn Nazi crimes.
Language: French


1. The Ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See, acting on instructions received from his Government, has the honour to address his Eminence the Cardinal Secretary of State to His Holiness the following:

2. The attention of the Brazilian Government has been drawn for some time on certain facts of extreme gravity from countries occupied by German troops and whose veracity has been established by credible evidence as well as through admissions of culpability.  There are frequent atrocities against the civilian population of the said countries and, in general, appear to follow methodical plans of the occupation authorities.

3.  In addition to these atrocities, which undoubtedly deserve the most formal condemnation of all Christians, we may also report other no less reprehensible acts against absolutely innocent victims, nationals of neutral countries.  Without notice merchant and passenger ships are torpedoed in Brazilian waters.  Recently there were several Brazilian ships attacked which arrived, some of whom had travelled from one Brazilian port to another, bringing travellers to the National Eucharistic Congress in Sao Paulo.(1)

4.  All these acts are certainly contrary to public international law, but they are especially crimes against the laws of humanity and against the moral principles that the Catholic Church has always supported. 

5.  Among the atrocities perpetrated in the occupied countries there are several that are used as means of terrorising the population at local and national levels.  These are, for example, the massacre of innocent hostages and the destruction of the land of small towns or villages.  These terrible collective punishments are justified under the pretext of punishment for individual acts. (2)

6.  Some say that the atrocities seem aimed at the extermination of entire nations.  Others suggest they are aimed at the destruction of religion.  Other atrocities have the appearance of cruel vengeance against civilian populations.  All these atrocities demonstrate, on the part of those who commit them, a dangerous absence of any sense of humanity and even moral sense.

7.  There is an abundance of information related to this topic and, unfortunately, it is very true.  These are not propaganda inventions, against the country in question, but the German authorities themselves have announced these actions.

8. The Brazilian government believes that to avoid the continuation of similar atrocities that far exceed all that has been seen in previous wars, the respected authoritative voice of the Vicar of Christ should sound against them.  It is to this high authority, rightly regarded as the greatest moral and spiritual power in the world that all free people turn, anxious to see the perpetrators responsible for these crimes denounced.

9.  There is no suggestion, by this request, that the Holy See take sides in this World War, but only condemns the violence and intolerable atrocities committed with a blatant disregard for the principles of Christian and natural morality. 

10.  We do not ask that the Holy See break its neutrality between the warring nations.  What is requested is that the Supreme Pontiff, “the supreme guardian of morality and justice” makes a formal condemnation of crimes and injustices regardless of where he sees them.  Such a statement does not involve a breach of neutrality, not only because the Holy See, which is above human passions, is able to clearly distinguish between aggressors and their victims, but also because, as a Brazilian lawyer and statesman well said, there can be no neutrality between right and wrong.  The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano has in fact made this point in the edition for 12 March 1941 saying it would be inadmissible “that the Pope, in the face of truth and falsehood, of justice and injustice, of love and hate, of good and bad, in the face of sleeplessness over the fate of humanity, had to choose, would not choose, does not want to choose”. (3)

11.  Therefore, the Government of Brazil, the government of a deeply Catholic people, presents by this means, with the greatest respect, an appeal to His Holiness so that he deigns to carefully consider the suitability of an unequivocal public condemnation of German atrocities committed in the occupied countries or directed against innocent neutrals.


Cross references: 
(1) The National Eucharistic Congress was held in Sao Paulo in September 1942.
(2)  A possible reference to the murder of the villagers and destruction of Lidice on 10.06.1942.
(3)  L’Osservatore Romano 12.03.1941 (59).  An unsigned article possibly written by Giuseppe Dalle Torre that declared that although neutral, the Pope was not impartial.  The rest of the sentence was omitted: “The Pope is not neutral”.

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