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EDITORIAL
from issue no. 12 - 2007

Monsignor Kaas


He was an authoritative figure and, having had my first contact with him through the intermediacy of Monsignor Montini, it was obvious that he should receive from me every concern. But after a convivial encounter with two priest friends (Don Bruno Wüstenberg and Monsignor Quirino Paganuzzi) my interest increased considerably


Giulio Andreotti


Pius XII with Monsignor Ludwig Kaas at the exit from the Vatican grottos, in June 1950

Pius XII with Monsignor Ludwig Kaas at the exit from the Vatican grottos, in June 1950

He was an authoritative figure and, having had my first contact with him through the intermediacy of Monsignor Montini, it was obvious that he should receive from me every concern. But after a convivial encounter with two priest friends (Don Bruno Wüstenberg and Monsignor Quirino Paganuzzi) my interest increased considerably. They had been, so to speak, two chapters in the history of the Zentrum, aimed at giving us young men who were coming close to joining the renascent Italian Christian Democratic Party profound information on the defeat of the German one by Adolf Hitler. He raised his voice quoting the Latin motto principiis obsta.
There was very little mention in our textbooks about the Weimar Republic – whose defeat Kaas judged a disaster – and that in no way in terms of praise.
Monsignor Kaas’ view was in the end clear as day. It is self-deception to oppose a dictator in broken ranks. It was not only a history lesson, but a precise invitation to reflect properly on what we were doing to oppose the Communist danger.
It took a little time and many evening meetings to get a good grasp of the historical passage. The German Catholic democrats, preoccupied by the Movement inspired by the Communism that had won over in Russia, did not pay fitting attention to the danger of right-wing, so to speak, anti-Communism. When they did take notice it was by then late and Hitler had an easy job in destroying all opposition.
It was strange, however, that Monsignor Kaas, who was a friend of Pius XII and often saw him, could not manage to get this clear analysis of his shared by the Pontiff. So much so – perhaps by some mismanagement – that the proposal that went under the name of the Sturzo Operation was advanced in the name of Pius XII himself. The opponent in the elections was Communism alone and that prevailed over every other consideration.
I have already had occasion in the past to make a detailed reconstruction of the difficult days of the launch of the so-called Sturzo Operation, promoted explicitly in the name of His Holiness.
On the occasion a friend drew my attention to the ancient formula with which decrees close: Si preces veritate nitantur (or: si vera sunt exposita).
To say a little more of the Sturzo Operation: as soon as the Holy Father read the outline I sent him (through Mother Pascalina) he ordered the business to be shelved. Monsignor Tardini pretended on the telephone to reproach me because I had bypassed the Secretariat of State and used the private one of the Pope; but in fact he was not really displeased that the Roman muddle had been set aside.
Going back to Monsignor Kaas, he manifested great good will towards me, the very young president of University Catholic Action. He also bequeathed me a very fine tapestry.
The intermediary in the contact was, as I’ve mentioned, Don Bruno Wüstenberg, a pontifical diplomat who was the shrewd weaver of relations between the Holy See and the African state of the Ivory Coast.
It is no simple matter to put in one’s word in the argument on the aspects – positive and negative – of the relations built at the time by the Holy See with Germany in the Nazi period.
It is always very easy – but unjust – to give to judgments “now for then”.


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