DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY June 4, 1998 vol. 9, no. 108
NEWS & VIEWS
US QUESTIONS VATICAN ROLE IN WORLD WAR TWO
WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - The US State Department issued a new report on Tuesday that says the Vatican may have helped Nazis and their allies escape justice after World War Two, saying Vatican resistance to opening records leads to that conclusion.
Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat oversaw the preparation of the 180-page report that says the US discovered evidence in its classified archives that "senior officials" of the Holy See knowingly used gold stolen from national treasuries and from Holocaust victims to hide Croatian Nazi allies in Italy and help them escape Europe after World War Two.
The report says no evidence was found that Pope Pius XII knew of the matter, but added that Vatican refusals to open secret archives prevent a definitive answer. The Vatican has refused to open the archives, including on two separate occasions this year when asked by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during meetings with Pope John Paul II in Rome, because they contain sensitive material related to sacramental matters.
The fascist Ustasha party held power in Croatia during World War Two and murdered at least 700,000 people in concentration camps. The US report says the Vatican "was aware of the killing campaign" but nevertheless "remained supportive" of the Ustasha regime. It adds that the Ustasha had about $80 million in gold, gathered from throughout Europe by the Nazis and routed through secret Swiss bank accounts, at the end of the war.
In 1944, the Ustasha government began using the money to
help senior Ustasha officials flee Croatia to Italy. The
report describes the Vatican's College of San Girolamo
degli Illirici in Rome as a "center of Ustasha covert
activity and a Croatian underground that helped Ustasha
refugees and war criminals escape Europe after the war." It
also says Father Krunoslav Stefano Dragonovic, who was an
Ustasha colonel, led the effort, hiding many Ustashi
officials at the college provided them with false identity
cards and helping them emigrate illegally to South America.
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS