ROME (CWNews.com) - The personal confessor of Pope Pius XII told an Italian Catholic magazine that the wartime pope knew of the Nazi atrocities against Jews and other groups, but refrained from speaking out for fear of retribution against the groups.

      Cardinal Paolo Dezza, 96, said in Monday's edition that the Holy Father had decided to denounce the Nazis, but was discouraged from doing so by German clergy and Vatican officials. "Pius XII was ready to publicly condemn Hitler's aggression. But he showed me letters he received from German cardinals and priests that warned him that the Third Reich would meet his protests with harsh reprisals against Catholics as well as Jews," he said.

      The cardinal said the decision tormented the Pontiff who felt powerless even as the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions of Catholics. The interview was released three weeks after a Vatican document on the Holocaust met with a cool reception from some Jewish leaders who wanted a condemnation of Pope Pius' decision not to speak out against the Nazis.

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April 8, 1998 volume 9, no. 70         DAILY CATHOLIC