The "Man in Black"
The Jesuit Approach

Men in Black

...continued from The "Man in Black"

We will take our leave of the influential Jesuit Father Pietro Tacchi-Venturi by quoting from a self-described Ignatiophile website containing what seems to be the only publicly-available information still in existence. In an article primarily concerning the Jesuit Superior General, Wlodimir Ledochowski, and the material benefits that the Jesuits gained from the Concordat [the Lateran Treaties of 1929],  we discover incidentally that the Concordat was "somewhat engineered by a Jesuit, Father Tacchi Venturi..."

But the really interesting information about Father Tacchi-Venturi's activities is not publicly-available: it is held within the archives of the Society of Jesus and there is precious little likelihood that anyone would be granted access to those files, even though they have been requested by the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission.

The ICJHC project entitled "The Vatican and the Holocaust" was announced in Rome in October, 1999 by Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, President of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and Mr. Seymour D. Reich, Chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC).

The Historical Commission began its work with the proposal put to it by Cardinal Cassidy to examine critically the eleven volumes of archival material published by the Holy See’s Secretariat of State between 1965 and 1981, entitled Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la seconde guerre mondiale (ADSS). Each volume considers a different topic and time frame. Included in these documents are the diplomatic correspondence of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State with its representatives and foreign officials, as well as notes and memoranda from meetings with diplomats and Church leaders from various countries. These documents are published in the languages in which they were originally written (primarily Italian, French and German, but also some in Latin and English), and each volume, apart from Volume 3 which is divided into two books, has a separate introduction.

In the concluding observations of its Vatican and the Holocaust Preliminary Report of October 26, 2000, the ICJHC had this to say:*

"In assessing the adequacy of the eleven volumes for an understanding of the role of the Vatican during the Holocaust, let us bear in mind that no history of the role of any government in a matter so broad as the Holocaust could be effectively undertaken on the basis of diplomatic exchanges alone ­ even when supplemented, as the ADSS occasionally are, with notes prepared as aides mémoires or other records. Furthermore, historians need to know what material is not in those volumes. Even without an inventory of the archives of the Holy See, it is plain from the ADSS that important pieces of the historical puzzle are missing from that collection. Some of these are the records of day to day administration of the Church and the Holy See. In addition, there are the numerous internal communications that every administration leaves behind ­ diaries, memoranda, appointment books, minutes of meetings, draft documents, and so forth that detail the process of how the Vatican arrived at the decisions it made.

"Apropos the usefulness of having documents outside the official archives, it would be helpful to have access to the papers (spogli) of such prominent protagonists as Luigi Maglione, Amleto and Gaitano Cicognani, Giovanni Montini, Domenico Tardini, Alfredo Ottaviani, Valerio Valeri, Giuseppe Burzio, Angelo Rotta, Eugene Tisserant, Filippo Bernardini and other Vatican officials of the period.

"Similarly, it would be useful to have access to the various archives of the Society of Jesus, particularly for the papers of Wlodimir Ledochowski, Robert Leiber, Pietro Tacchi-Venturi, Gustav Gundlach, and Robert Graham..."

Reactions to this Preliminary report by the Vatican and others will be the subject of a future post.

* The Preliminary Report is well worth reading in its entirety and can be found at Boston College, one of the oldest Jesuit Universities in the USA.


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