Historical Investigation to understand a troubling photograph

October 7, 2010

Investigation of Question 7: Approved? Or disapproved?

Filed under: — admin @ 8:23 pm

It is unknown whether Copello cleared the ceremony with Cardinal Pacelli – or with Pope Pius XI. This is far from a trivial question and deserves close historical scrutiny before judgments are made in any direction.

Cardinal Pacelli was the Vatican’s chief policymaker on German church-state matters. Pacelli’s role with respect to Germany was no secret; he had served for 13 years as the Vatican’s nuncio to Bavaria and Germany prior to becoming Vatican Secretary of State. For a ceremony as controversial as a swastika-blessing, with high-ranking diplomats attending, and with Cardinal Pacelli’s prominence as the Vatican legate to the Congress, there is a significant possibility that the ceremony may have been coordinated in advance with Vatican officials as well with the Argentina Foreign Office and the German Ambassador to Argentina.

There is no evidence of Vatican disapproval of Copello’s conduct. On the contrary, five months after the photograph of Copello’s swastika-blessing was published in the most widely displayed – and most virulent – newspaper in Germany, Copello was elevated to cardinal. In December 1935 Copello became the first prelate in the 440-year history of Spanish-speaking Latin America to be elevated to cardinal.

Blogger Steve Lawson has identified a significant photograph, in which Cardinal Copello appears to be standing in a place of supreme honor, at the right of the papal throne (left when looking at the photo), during the coronation of Eugenio Pacelli as Pope Pius XII:

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