Statement regarding Conference on Nazi gold

VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 1997 (VIS) - Following is the text of a statement given by Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls in response to the request for news on the participation of the Holy See in the London Conference on Nazi Gold. It was made public yesterday afternoon.

«The Holy See participated in the December 2-4 conference with a delegation of observers, made up by Msgr. Giovanni d'Aniello, nunciature counselor in service at the Secretariat of State, and Fr. Marcel Chappin, S.J., professor of Church history at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Regarding the gold stolen by the Nazis in Croatia, research conducted in the Vatican archives confirms the non-existence of documents relative to this matter and, therefore, repudiates any supposed transaction attributed to the Holy See.

As to opening the archives, one must keep in mind that no aspect of the activity of the Holy See, including diplomatic activity, is separate from its essentially religious and spiritual mission. Archival documentation also regards, without distinction, problems of a religious nature and delicate personal questions of conscience (internal forum), on which advice and directives are requested and offered for the spiritual lives of individuals, whose private sphere must always be respected, even after the death of those involved. This aspect implies delicate work of classification of the material, and explains the reason that the documents are available up to now until 1922, that is, until the end of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XV.

It is also to be noted that the Holy See, by express desire of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, permitted the publication of the «Actes et Documents du Saint-Siege relatifs a la Seconde Guerre Mondiale», universally recognized as a great contribution to the study of this period. This monumental work was overseen by four eminent Jesuit scholars of different nationalities: Fr. Robert A. Graham, North American; Fr. Burkhart Schneider, German; Fr. Angelo Martini, Italian; and Fr. Pierre Blet, French. Fr. Blet recently summarized the results of the research in the volume «Pie XII et la Seconde Guerre Mondiale d'apres les archives du Vatican», edited by Perrin in France. Exhaustive examination of the pertinent documents makes it possible to affirm that there is nothing to add to what has already been published.

Therefore, the Holy See can look to the past with serenity, considering the persevering efforts which were undertaken, during that very sad period in history, to alleviate the enormous sufferings of countless individuals and to be a sure guide of hope.»

av Webmaster publisert 10.12.1997, sist endret 10.12.1997 - 15:55