Palazzini, Pietro Cardinal (1912-2000)
Italian cardinal; eminent moral theologian, appointed by Blessed Paul VI to serve as coordinator and secretary of a commission to review a new and highly popular but controversial presentation of the Catholic faith issued by the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Netherlands and commonly referred to as the “Dutch Catechism.” Secretary to the Congregation of the Council.
ALS – Autograph Letter Signed, one page, 1965, on the official letterhead of the Sacred Congregation for the Council. Likely addressed to Monsignor Corrado Balducci who, at the time, was attached to the nunciature in Israel. Reads: Dear Monsignor: One sees that, coming from Palestine, you have now learned the style of the Three Wise Men, because precious gifts, like the one you brought me now, always precede your arrival. I remain a little bewildered by your generosity, and I thank you deeply for this and so many other expressions of kindness, united to the constant and affectionate memory. I imagine you came for a bit of vacation and I hope that it will be happy. If you still are in Rome, I will call you for a meeting. Please remember me to your brother and my best wishes to you. Most devoted and obliged... Handsome letter in excellent condition. (We have sold many letters from Monsignor Balducci to important members of the Roman Curia in which he sent gifts. We cannot say with certainty, but he may have sought to ingratiate (position) himself, although that might be an unfair judgement call. The establishment and maintenance of important connections within the Roman Curia was part of the game of advancement (and continues to this day).
Early in his ecclesiastical career, Palazzini was assistant vice-rector of the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary. Although he was under surveillance by Italian Fascists who suspected him of harboring Jews he, together with Father Vincenzo Fagiolo, hid Jews at the Lateran. In the early 1950s, he was appointed vice rector of the Pontifical Roman Academy for Juridical Studies. In 1958 he founded the magazine Studi Cattolici. Also, the same year, Palazzini was appointed secretary to the Congregation of the Council. He was one of those chosen to assist with preparations for the Second Vatican Council. In 1961, he was made a consultor on the commission for the interpretation of Canon Law. He also authored a number of articles and books on the Council.
In 1985, Palazzini was honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations, for protesting the repeated criticisms against Pius XII, on whose instructions Palazzini declared himself to have acted.
In a 1992 interview, Palazzini referred to a walk in the Vatican Gardens with Pius XII before the imminent Nazi occupation of rome. It was rumoured that the pope could be abducted. When the pope asked the meaning papal noble guards lurking behind bushes and everywhere on his route, he was told that the exercises were for his defense in case of a German take – over of the Vatican. On the day of the German occupation, however, the papal noble guard had all but disappeared. Only the Swiss Guard stood watch at the Vatican. Pope Pius XII, so stated Palazzini, would not have left the Vatican as pope in case of the abduction. He would have resigned and left as a simple priest.
Nota bene: We also have an Autograph Note Signed, 1985, on his personal biglietto, sending thanks to Monsignor Marcello Venturi, prefect of Papal Ceremonial of the Apostolic Palace, for arranging a papal audience.