Rorate Caeli

Benedict XVI on Pius XII, the Pastor Angelicus

Pope Benedict XVI received today representatives of the "Pave the Way Foundation", an interreligious organization which has recently held a symposium on the papacy of Pius XII, of most glorious memory. These are Pope Benedict's words:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to meet with you at the conclusion of the important symposium organized by the Pave the Way Foundation. I know that many eminent scholars have participated in this reflection on the numerous works of my beloved predecessor - the Servant of God Pope Pius XII - accomplished during the difficult period around the time of the second world war. I warmly welcome each of you especially Mr Gary Krupp, President of the Foundation, whom I thank for the kind words expressed on your behalf. I am grateful to him for informing me how your work has been undertaken during the symposium. You have analyzed without bias the events of history and concerned yourselves only with seeking the truth. I also greet those accompanying you on this visit, as well as your family members and loved ones at home.

The focus of your study has been the person and the tireless pastoral and humanitarian work of Pius XII, Pastor Angelicus. Fifty years have passed since his pious death here at Castel Gandolfo early on the ninth of October 1958, after a debilitating disease. This anniversary provides an important opportunity to deepen our knowledge of him, to meditate on his rich teaching and to analyze thoroughly his activities. So much has been written and said of him during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light. The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favour of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people.

Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies, your symposium offers to the public forum the possibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes. One understands, then, that wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. In the proceedings of your convention you have also drawn attention to his many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews.

This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them. One need only recall Pius XII’s meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your visit and for the research you have undertaken. Thanks also to the Pave the Way Foundation for its ongoing activity in promoting relationships and dialogue between religions, as witnesses of peace, charity and reconciliation. It is my great hope that this year, which marks the fiftieth-anniversary of my venerated predecessor’s death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice. With these sentiments I invoke upon you and the proceedings of your symposium an abundance of divine blessings.


Antonio said...

This is really significant.
I think we are very close to the official proclamation of Pius XII as "Venerable".

Anonymous said...

Absolutly magnificent words. The Holy Father seized upon this historical moment to defend his predecesor. I am very impressed!

humboldt said...

Very, very good. Excellent speech by Benedict XVI.

John said...

This is the best defense of Pope Pius XII I've ever read:

Woody Jones said...

I read somewhere that there exists in French a complete set of the Servant of God's papal writings and addresses, running to some 12 or so volumes, covering most of the topics that were later addressed at the Council. So far as I know, in English there are available only the writings publichsed on the Vatican web site, and a couple of older collections running to about 2 volumes each, and the very interesting volume on nobility published from TFP.

Has anyone heard whether there is going to be a more pronounced effort to translate all of the Holy Father's other writings into English?

humboldt said...

There is an old selection of Pius XII entitled "The Pope speaks;: The teachings of Pope Pius XII" by Michael Chinigo. This is the only printed work I know with works by Pius XII, but a comprehensive publication should be made of Pius
XII's magisterium.

humboldt said...

I like it very much that in the original english version, Benedict XVI calls Pius XII his "beloved" predecessor, although the italian version does not call him beloved.

Francesco said...

Deo Gratias! What a beautiful and significant speech Pope Benedict has given on Pope Pius XII. The enemies of the Church have been defaming this saintly man for so long. I hope the day comes soon when we can say "Saint Pius XII, pray for us!"

Boko Fittleworth said...

If any 20th century pope merits the honorific "The Great", it's Pius XII.

John McFarland said...

But what is it that Pope Benedict praises his beloved predecessor for? His help for the Jews.

Does he praise him for his magisterial pronouncements? No.

Let me suggest a reason: because, just to pick the low-hanging fruit, Pope Pius's encyclicals on the mystical body and Christ as Mediator contradict ecumenism and Vatican II ecclesiology; his encyclical on the liturgy contradicts most of the basic principles of the liturgical reform; and Humani Generis condemns the doctrines of the guys who were the intellectual heros of Vatican II and who were made cardinals by Popoe John Paul the Great, and are admired by Pope Benedict.

So Pope Benedict is prepared to defend Pope Pius the friend of the Jews, but that appears to be about it. Since he doesn't agree with his predecessor on a number of things, that's not too surprising.

This year is of course the 50th anniversary of Pius XII's death. (My freshman high school religion class was set to doing projects on the death and election of the new pope.) So far there's been pretty much nothing from the Vatican. I prophesy that there won't be much more by year's end.

As for Pius XII's writings, his encyclicals are surely still available from the Daughters of St. Paul.

Angelus Press has a collection of his addresses to newlyweds under its Sarto House imprint. You'll probably have trouble squaring it with the Theology of the Body, though.

Sarto House also publishes Romano Amerio's Iota Unum, 600 or so pages of evidence that the post-Vatican II Church doesn't look much like Pius XII's Church.

I'd also suggest that as regards Pius XII being declared venerable, as long as significant Jewish elements are against him for not "speaking out," his chances are probably about as good as mine.

Of course, the Pope surprised us on the Motu Proprio, so perhaps he'll surprise us here, too. But if he does, it will be Pius as friend of the Jews, not Pius as the last papal defender of the doctrine of the Church's first 1930years.

New Catholic said...

That's inaccurate, Mr McFarland.

Pope Benedict did, for instance, praise deeply one of Pope Pacelli's greatest documents (and one of my favorite papal writings ever), Haurietis Aquas, on its 50th anniversary. And he has praised Pius often in other settings.

And it is quite natural that the Pope chose to highlight the efforts of Pius XII to save as many persecuted Jews as possible - because THAT has been the crux of the public criticism of Pacelli and his pontificate.

Jordanes said...

It's also quite natural that the Pope would praise Pius XII's efforts to save Jews on the occasion of a conference that was specifically about Pius XII's efforts to save Jews, and how enemies of the Catholic faith have been lying about those efforts in order to smear Pius XII and the faith.