September 10, 2011
A 2001 cable discusses the potential release of
archive material on a highly sensitive topic, the dealings of Eugenio Pacelli, later pope Pius XII, during Second World War.
This cable (01VATICAN4258) was first published
in a redacted form
by the Guardian. Its full text was later on
released by WikiLeaks. Both versions can be accessed
The cable describes a meeting between embassy staff and
Peter Gumpel, SJ the
keeper of the archive, to discuss a way forward, so that the existing
material could be released without delay, while maintaining a "positive,
According to the cable, Gumpel responded:
"GUMPEL IMMEDIATELY ADVISED THAT THE ISSUE
OF ACCESS TO THE VATICAN ARCHIVES RELATED TO THE WORLD WAR II ERA WAS
SIMPLY AN INTERNAL MATTER OF PROCEDURE AND NOT A POLITICAL ONE."
The following passage was redacted by the
According to the full Cablegate archive, it went on to say:
"ALTHOUGH LATER HE ADMITTED THAT IT HAD BEEN
TURNED INTO A POLITICAL ISSUE THROUGH A DISTORTION OF FACTS RELATED TO
THE WORKINGS OF A JEWISH-VATICAN COMMISSION STUDYING PIUS XII'S ROLE
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
GUMPEL PROFFERED COPIES OF HIS STATEMENT,
WRITTEN WITH AUTHORIZATION FROM THE HIGHEST LEVELS WITHIN THE VATICAN
HIERARCHY, COUNTERING "FALSE" ASSERTIONS BY UNNAMED MEMBERS OF THE
COMMISSION, AS WELL AS A STATEMENT PREPARED BY CARDINAL WILLIAM KEELER
OF BALTIMORE, THE U.S. BISHOPS DELEGATE FOR CATHOLIC-JEWISH AFFAIRS, WHO
DID NAME NAMES."
In the following, a passage describing this
"political issue" has also been removed:
"GUMPEL WAS PERSONALLY PAINED BY SOME OF THE
AD HOMINUM COMMENTARY DIRECTED AT HIM BY JEWISH MEMBERS OF THE
COMMISSION AND OTHER JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS.
HE STRESSED TO A/DCM THAT HE HAS REFRAINED
FROM CHARACTERIZING THE WORK OF CERTAIN COMMISSION MEMBERS "UNTIL NOW"
AS A PROFESSIONAL COURTESY AND OUT OF RESPECT. HOWEVER, HE WARNED THAT
IF ATTACKS AND FALSEHOODS CONTINUED, HE WOULD RELEASE THE TAPES OF THE
(NOTE: GUMPEL INSINUATED THAT THE RELEASE TO
THE TAPES WOULD PROVE TO BE EMBARRASSING FOR SOME OF THE COMMISSION
MEMBERS, DEMONSTRATING THAT THE COMMISSION ITSELF WAS "IN CRISIS"
BECAUSE OF CERTAIN MEMBERS' UNPROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR. END NOTE)."
There is no obvious reason to redact these
passages. No informants are named.
Cardinal Keeler is a public figure, and it is
not conceivable why his position in this very important matter should be
kept secret. The cable does not name the Jewish members of the committee
that allegedly insulted Gumpel. Overall, the only effect of these redactions
is that they downplay the conflicts within the commission.
This primary source was edited in a way that its content was drastically
altered. This fact is even more puzzling as it was far more discrete than
the many newspaper reports on the matter, which have appeared over the
For instance, the Telegraph named one of the
members of the commission who
disagreed with Gumpel.