Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Catholic Guilt - continued

Readers of The Joy Of Sects may remember several allusions there to the Vatican's not entirely honourable record during World War II. It looks like we're about to learn a lot more about this unsavoury subject, thanks to a court case in the USA.

The US supreme court has just dismissed an appeal by the Vatican Bank to dismiss lawsuits brought against it by representatives of holocaust survivors so a trial should be taking place soon. The allegations brought by these complainants link Giovanni Battista Montini to the theft of property of Jewish, Serb, Russian, Ukrainian and Roma victims during World War II in Yugoslavia (Montini was the Vatican's deputy secretary of state under the pope during the war and later became Pope Paul VI). It's also been alleged that Montini helped Croatian war criminals escape justice after the war and played a key role in the Vatican's 'Rat line' system which helped Klaus Barbie ("the butcher of Lyon"), Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Josef Mengele and Franz Stengel, the commander of the Treblinka death camp, among others, get out of Europe using Church and Red Cross papers.

This article in Haaretz contains a more detailed summary of the issues. Perhaps not the most reliable news source, but certainly worth reading.

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