The papal nuncio to Switzerland played a crucial role in a plot to stop the Holocaust that may have saved 300,000 lives, a new book will claim.
Most historians believe that the Nazis destroyed the death camps to hide the evidence of the millions they slaughtered. But historian and filmmaker Max Wallace believes there is more to the story.
In his book, published next spring, he argues that the decision by Heinrich Himmler in the autumn of 1944 to end the systematic slaughter was partly the result of secret negotiations instigated by a group that rescued thousands of Jews.
The nuncio in Bern, Archbishop Filippo Bernardini, had introduced Recha Sternbuch, who worked on behalf of he North American rescue committee Vaad ha-Hatzalah, to Jean-Marie Musy, a fascist and former Swiss president who knew Himmler. Wallace’s book, In the Name of Humanity: The Secret Deal to End the Holocaust, claims that the group used secret deals, bribes and false promises to manipulate Himmler, “exploiting his desperate desire for a separate peace with the Western Allies”.
“Musy and the Sternbuchs exploited this delusion by convincing him that such an alliance [with the Allies] was only possible if he ended the extermination of the Jews,” Wallace said. He noted that Himmler’s order for the gas chambers at Auschwitz to be destroyed came three days after a cable from Sternbuch said that the nuncio had “received promise slaughters will cease”.
Wallace told the US Catholic News Service (CNS) that he hoped the opening of the Vatican Secret Archives would shed more light on Himmler’s order. A source told CNS that documents from Pius XII’s pontificate might be available in 2018.
Scholar advising Pope: Church ‘not ready’ for women priests
The best-known advocate for women deacons has said that the Church is not “ready” to admit women to the priesthood.
Dr Phyllis Zagano, who has been described as “the leading scholar and most prolific writer in the world on women deacons” and who is on Pope Francis’s commission to study the question, made the remarks in a talk at Yale University.
During a question-and-answer session, she was asked about women’s ordination and said: “I just don’t see it at this point … I just don’t think that if I walked down the centre aisle of St Patrick’s Cathedral, waving my – this is my Yale ID card, but waving my ‘I’m a priest’ card … I think I’d be stoned. I just don’t think our Church is ready for that.”
Dr Zagano, who teaches at Hofstra University in New York, told the Catholic Herald via email: “None of my work supports or advocates for women priests.” When asked whether she would like to see the Church ordain women as priests at some point in the future, Dr Zagano said that she had no further comment.
The Church teaches that women cannot be admitted to the priesthood. In 1994 Pope St John Paul II reaffirmed that this was completely unchangeable.
Iraqi Christians flock back home
About 15,000 displaced Iraqi Christians are expected to return home in a single month, a charity has said.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said 3,000 families were likely to return to Qaraqosh on the Nineveh Plains, a Christian heartland recaptured from ISIS, raising the number of Christians who had returned to 8,000. Three years ago 50,000 Christians lived there. Fr Andrzej Halemba said school buildings were being urgently repaired in time for the school year.
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