Adolf Hitler gave one of his generals a direct order to kidnap Pope Pius XII during World War Two - but the officer did not obey - Italy's leading Catholic newspaper reported on Saturday. Avvenire, which is owned by the Italian Bishops' Conference said information about the plot have been discovered during research carried out in the process to seek beatification of the wartime Pontiff. Elements of alleged plots to abduct the Pope during Germany's occupation of Italy have emerged in the past from some historians, but Avvenire's report said its details are new. The paper said Hitler feared the Pope would be an obstacle to his plans for global domination, because he wanted to eventually abolish Christianity and impose National Socialism as a kind of new 'global religion'. Avvenire said a plot, codenamed 'Operation Rabat' was originally planned for 1943 but was not carried out that year for unspecified reasons. It said that in 1944, shortly before the Germans retreated from Rome, SS General Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff, a senior occupation officer in Italy, had been ordered by Hitler to kidnap the Pope. According to the newspaper, Wolff returned to Rome from his meeting with Hitler in Germany and arranged for a secret meeting with the Pope. Wolff went to the Vatican in civilian clothes at night with the help of a priest. The newspaper said Wolff told the Pope of Hitler's orders and assured him he had no intention of carrying them out himself, but warned the Pontiff to be careful "because the situation was confused and full of risks." Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had already fallen and set up a German-backed puppet regime in northern Italy. The German occupation of Rome was in its dying days. Allied forces were advancing on the capital, which they liberated on June 5, 1944. As a test of Wolff's good faith, Pope Pius asked for him to free two Italian resistance leaders who had been condemned to death. Wolff arranged for them to be released, the paper said.
UK & Ireland
Justice, Peace & Environment
Youth & Young Adults
Arts (Events, Shows & Exhibitions)
Obituaries & Tributes
Saint of the Day
Are you sure you want to delete this article? This can't be undone.