Pope Francis must right the wrong and tell the truth – Hilda Raja

From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975). Photo collage courtesy Selecting Stones.

THE POPES AND THEIR FASCIST FRIENDS: From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975). Photo collage courtesy Selecting Stones.

Pope Francis the ActorThe Indian Express (dated 13th April 2015) carried a news item under the caption “Pope calls Armenian massacre first genocide of the 20th century”. It must be stated that Muslim Turkey has not denied that Christian Armenians had died in clashes in 1915. But it disagrees that this amounted to genocide. Granted it did, what I would like to raise is what Pope Francis would call the genocide undertaken by the Vatican in the 20th century in 1941. How did the Vatican turn a blind eye when Hitler invaded Yugoslavia, when he partitioned the defeated country, and detached the Catholic Croatia from the Orthodox Serbia? When Hitler’s fascist army known as the Ustashi under Pavelic set out on a cleansing drive, this was not only recognized by Vatican but was met with great rejoicing by Vatican.

Aloysius Stepinac with Ante PavelicPavelic and Archbishop Stepinac then embarked in a massive and brutal cleansing spree. The ‘Aryanization’ brought into force a number of laws and decrees. This meant anti-Semitic laws were passed, Jews were deported to concentration camps. All political opponents were banished, imprisoned, freedom of speech was suppressed. Nuns and priests marshaled children to salute Pavelic, Hitler, and Mussolini.

The insidious plan was one of the vilest and brutal in world history. Over 200,000 Orthodox Serbs inhabited the country along with 700,000 Muslims and 45,000 Jews. Between 1941 and 1942 about 40,000 Serbs and another 66,000 Serbs including 2,000 children were put to death. Many of the commandants at these death camps were Catholic priests. What would Pope Francis call this? A massacre? Genocide? Pogrom? Or Slaughter?

Pope Pius XII This terrible holocaust produced great financial gains for Vatican. Despite adamant denials, the Vatican gave its blessings. Pope Pius XII was fully informed of the death camps, the forced conversion, etc. He even sent his personal representative to bless the Ustachi.

To make matters worse and as though to reinforce the approval of the Vatican, in 1998 Pope John Paul II journeyed to Croatia to announce the beatification of archbishop Stepinac. It is stated that from 1941 to 1945 over 500,000 Orthodox Serbs were massacred along with 80,000 Jews and 30,000 Gypies. This is the greatest genocide of the 20th century, unless Pope Francis thinks otherwise. But can he deny world history records?

An article by the New York Times dated 15 December 1915 states that one million Armenians had been either deported or executed by the Ottoman government.Pope Francis at the start of the Armenian rite in St Peter’s Basilica described the massacre of the Christian Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th century. He termed it ‘senseless slaughter’ and rightly so. But what was intriguing is that Pope Francis should state that “genocide continues today against Christians, who on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death, decapitated, crucified, burned alive or forced to leave their homeland”. This coming from one who heads the Catholic Church with its history of slaughter, persecution, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, forced conversions, et al, makes one wonder why and how can the Pope cover up the history of the Catholic Church. The Croatia genocide is not ages ago to be buried in the archives of the Vatican. What was the treatment Vatican meted out to the Jews right in Rome?

Francis XavierWhat about the conversions that was undertaken in India? For that matter right from the beginning Church history has not been taught to ordinary Catholics or even priests. It is a question of selective amnesia or partisan history that it upholds. May be Pope Francis has only started his condemnation of the genocide of Christians Armenians. It is only the beginning. He may, I fervently hope, continue and condemn Vatican’s role and abetment with Mussolini and Hitler and in its brutal massacre in Croatia, and Vatican’s conversion strategies right from the start. One must not forget the Crusades, the burning of the witches, the destruction of temples and synagogues. Let us wait and give Pope Francis a chance to right the wrong and uphold the TRUTH. – Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, 14 April 2015

» Dr Mrs Hilda Raja was a Professor in the Post Graduate Social Work Department at Stella Maris College, Chennai. After retirement she has been a consultant on various government and international development projects. She lives with her son in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Inquisition Victims

OLD GOA: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian victims of the Inquisition, their hands nailed to posts, listen to a Catholic padre read out charges against them. A Portuguese nobleman waits on a horse. He and the Church will get all the confiscated properties.