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Inside the VaticanSeptember 21, 2023
A photo of Pope Pius XII at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome Aug. 13, 1943, is seen as part of an exhibit on the wartime pope at the Poli Art Gallery near the Vatican in Rome May 24, 2023. (CNS photo/Justin McLellan)

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This week, a letter found in a previously sealed section of the Vatican’s archives reveals Pope Pius XII may have been aware of the Holocaust and the mass deaths of Jewish and Polish people in Nazi concentration camps. The news comes just after a list was rediscovered that confirms at least 3,000 Jews were sheltered in Catholic institutions in Rome during the Nazi occupation of the city, and it comes just before an upcoming conference on Pius XII. Veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell joins host Ricardo da Silva, S.J., to give an update on what we know so far and what questions remain.

[Listen to the “Inside the Vatican” deep dive on the Pius XII archives here.]

Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, announced publicly for the first time that he is prepared to receive Cardinal Zuppi, Pope Francis' special envoy on peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Although Cardinal Zuppi had previously visited Moscow as part of what Francis has called his “mission” for peace, Gerry explains on this episode of “Inside the Vatican” that during the cardinal’s last visit, high-level Russian officials had not been prepared to receive him.

Gerry joins Ricardo for a conversation on the peace mission—and what it was about Cardinal Zuppi’s visit to Beijing that may have influenced the Russians to open their doors to the cardinal.

In the second half of the show, Gerry and Ricardo unpack Gerry’s interview with Boris Gudziak, Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. Archbishop Gudziak expressed concerns about a significant decline in Pope Francis’ popularity in Ukraine, which, he says, is linked to specific comments made by the pope that appeared to favor Russia and its culture.

A few more stories from this week:

Pope Francis joined former U.S. president Bill Clinton on a video call on Sept. 18 at the Clinton Global Initiative Conference. The pope spoke on the importance of guaranteeing health care for children, highlighting the pro-bono work of the Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome. You can read his full address here.

The Vatican is currently reviewing “very serious” allegations against former Bishop Christopher Saunders of the Diocese of Broome in Australia. These allegations have come to light following the release of a report from a local investigation ordered by the Vatican. The investigation identified that the bishop had allegedly sexually assaulted four teenagers and young men, potentially groomed another 67 and kept a stack of guns and cash on church premises. Bishop Saunders had resigned in 2020 amidst allegations of sexual misconduct and bullying in the Diocese of Broome.

Lastly, a new development in the case of the now-expelled Jesuit priest Marko Rupnik: The Diocese of Rome has raised doubts about his excommunication and subsequent expulsion from the Jesuits. In a letter on Sept 14, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome Angelo De Donatis cites “gravely anomalous procedures” uncovered during the investigation. As a result, he has sent the investigator’s report to what he called, “competent authorities,” likely within the Vatican and the Jesuit order.

Order a copy of Father James Martin’s new book, Come Forth: The Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle, here.

Links from the show:

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