If there was ever an incarnate of evil and villainy, Adolf Hitler would have been the prime candidate to be it. The unchallenged dictator of Nazi Germany and the leader of the Third Reich, Hitler's and his stooges are believed to be responsible for over 6 million killings during his infamous genocidal spree—the Holocaust. Some believed that he was demonically possessed, including Pope Pius XII, who performed exorcisms on him, says Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, in a new book.
According to Ragona, Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII—considered by many as an anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizer—had actually performed exorcisms on the ruthless leader 'from a distance'.
In an interview with Edward Pentin for the National Catholic Register, Ragona, the author of My Name Is Satan — Stories of Exorcisms From the Vatican to Medjugorje, found that unlike the popular belief that Pacelli was sympathetic to Hitler, official documents revealed that the Roman Catholic priest had tried to free the fascist leader from the clutches of the devil.
Exorcising Adolf Hitler from Afar
Touted as the 'Thousand Year Reich', the 'Third Reich' lasted for a little over 12 years—between 1933 and 1945—where Germany was transformed into an authoritarian nation governed under Hitler's iron fist dictatorship and his loyal Nazi lieutenants. Pope Pius XII ascended to the papacy on 2 March 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II (WWII) and at the height of Hitler's power.
Between his ascension and death on October 9, 1958, and even several years after that, Pius XII has often been referred to as 'Hitler's Pope'. Several critics have also condemned him for not being hard on Nazi actions. However, Ragona claimed in the interview that he had accessed archival documents that contained sworn testimonies of people who were considered closest to the late Holy See.
"In the book I recall Sister Pascalina Lehnert, the Pope's former governess, who revealed how much Pope Pacelli was doing everything he could to stop Hitler's madness and for this reason, in addition to praying, the nun said, the Holy Father also performed exorcisms on the Führer in his private chapel in the presence of the nuns," said Ragona, in the interview, according to Patheos.
Hoping for a Communist Loss
Ragona recounted that Pius XII's nephew's revelation that in 1958, on the eve of the crucial Italian general election, the pope had carried out exorcisms to prevent demonic interventions in the election's outcome.
"Pacelli was obviously spiritually supporting the Christian Democrats and there was the 'danger' of a communist victory," said Ragona. The Christian Democracy (CD), a Christian Democratic party, was formed in Nazi-occupied Italy in 1943. It played a central role in Italian politics till its dissolution in 1994 and was in opposition to communism.
"We know that already in 1949 Pius XII approved a decree of the then-Holy Office [now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] that declared registering any form of support for the Communist Party was inadmissible, and that those who professed to believe the communist doctrine would be excommunicated," pointed out Ragona.
Devil Hated Pope Benedict XVI
The Devil, according to Ragona, is not a huge fan of the retired Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Ratzinger)—the predecessor of Pope Francis. In fact, it "hates" him, "de to his great charity, his way of living the liturgy, his respect for the rules, his rigor," he declared.
When asked how he knew about it, Ragona said that he heard of an exorcism performed by late Ivan Dias, a cardinal from India, in St. Peter's Square in 2012 inside the Swiss guardhouse. "That day the devil had revealed himself during a Mass celebrated in the square by Benedict XVI," said Ragona. What was the Pope's response? The journalist disclosed that Benedict XVI "Greatly annoyed the devil who, during exorcisms, often spoke badly of Joseph Ratzinger."