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Pius XII, WW II & Cardinal Tisserant

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Message Anura Guruge

Pius XII (#261) is said to have refused French Cardinal Eugà ne Tisserant [1884-1972] permission to leave the Vatican at the outbreak of WW II when Cardinal Tisserant expressed his desire to return to France and serve in the French army.

Tisserant, in a similar fashion to Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli [future John XXIII (#262)], served as an French army intelligence officer during WW I, though he had been ordained a priest in 1907. [Angello Roncalli, ordained in 1904, was drafted into the Royal Italian Army as a sergeant, serving in initially in the medical corps as a stretcher-bearer before being made a chaplain. Pius XII did not serve in WW I since he was a relatively senior curial official by then.]

I was doing some research into cardinal bishops yesterday when I came across this statement of Pius XII's alleged reluctance to let Cardinal Tisserant go back to France.

At face value one could immediately dismiss this as being one of brotherly love between humans, with the pope wanting to keep another human (very gifted at that) away from the dangers of war. But, I got to thinking.

There could have been another reason. Having a relatively senior cardinal, who had held curial office, serving in the French army could have had a negative impact on the German forces nearly half of whom were devout Catholics! This was one of Hitler's biggest fears. The potential of the Catholic church to influence his troops. In reality this never came to pass.

But, what would have been the case IF Cardinal Tisserant left the Vatican and started working for the French army?

It is something to think about my motto in life being "Think Free, Or Die.'

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I was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) a long time ago, came of age in Britain (an Anglophile to the core), and have lived in the U.S. since 1985. For over 30 years I tried to make a living in the computer industry and was employed by the likes of (more...)
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