I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beatification of Pope Pius XII

In an Associated Press/Reuters report, the Vatican The Holy See] has been considering Beatification of Pope Pius XII, the preliminary procedure to canonization declaring sainthood to a person. He was the Pope during the time of the Holocaust period in Nazi Germany and there have been arguments over whether or not Pope Pius XII had turned his head during the persecution of Jews or whether he remained prudent in order to secretly save Jews through his diplomacy. According to an article at MSNBC: [See also
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano dedicated an entire page to praising Pius, including an impassioned tribute from the Holy See’s secretary of state, Italian Cardinal Tarcisco Bertone.
“It was precisely by means of a prudent approach that Pius XII protected Jews and refugees,” Bertone wrote in an introduction to a book by a nun about the late pontiff.
Last month, Pope Benedict XVI made one of the strongest defenses yet of Pius, whose death 50 years ago is being marked at the
Vatican. … Pius, as Italian prelate Eugenio Pacelli, had served as a Vatican diplomat in Germany and as the Vatican’s secretary of state before becoming pope in 1939, a few months before World War II erupted in Europe. The Vatican has started the process for Pius’ beatification, the last formal step before possible sainthood. Jews and others have accused Pius of not speaking out forcefully enough against the Holocaust. Bertone contended that research has shown that Pius “was neither silent nor anti-Semitic. He was prudent. If he had made a public intervention, he would have endangered the lives of thousands of Jews, who, upon his directive, were hidden, in 155 convents and monasteries in Rome alone …
Earlier this week, an Israeli rabbi
[Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen] who became the first Jew to address bishops’ gatherings at the Vatican pointedly omitted Pius when he spoke of the change in Catholic-Jewish relations from a “long, hard and painful history.”… The rabbi said some religious leaders “did not raise a voice in the effort or save our brethren, but chose to keep silent and help secretly.”

Pope Pius XII was born as Eugene Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli on March 2nd, 1958 and died October 9th, 1958 who became the 260th pope of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City from March 2nd, 1939 until his death. He was a diplomat for the Vatican and was involved in concluding treaties with European and Latin-American nations, most notably with the Reichskonkordat in Germany. After World War II, Pope Pius XII worked at rebuilding Europe and advocating peace and the reconciliation of Germany in order to create a unified Europe. However, in Eastern Europe, especially the Soviet Union, persecution and deportation was the norm for Catholic clergy under communist rule. He wrote 41 encyclicals, which included Mystici Corporis, Mediator Dei, and Humani GenerisPope Pius XII eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals with the Grand Consistory in 1946. His canonization has been ongoing since September 2nd, 2000 when John Paul II was Pope. (concerning theology and evolution).
Pacelli was born in Rome and came from an aristocratic family with a history affiliated with the Vatican, called the Black Nobility. His grandfather founded the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano in 1861. Ernesto Pacelli, cousin to Pope Pius XII, was a financial advisor to Pope Leo XIII and his father was the dean of the Sacra Roma Romana. His brother was a canon lawyer and legal advisor to Pius XILateran Treaty in 1929, which brought an end to the Roman Question. He studied philosophy at the University of Rome La Sapienza from 1895-1986, and in 1899 received degrees in theology and civil/canon law. He was ordained a priest on Easter Sunday, April 2nd, 1899 by Bishop Francesco di Paola Cassetta and his first assignment was to be a curate at Chiesa Nuova, where he had served as an altar boy. Pacelli was offered professorship in canon law at a Roman university (1908) and The Catholic University of America and aided in the negotiation of the (1911), but turned both down.
Pacelli was promoted to Cardinal Secretary of State in 1914 and was involved with a concordat with Serbia just before the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo – considered the main cause and beginning of World War II. Pope Benedict XV appointed Pacelli and promoted him to archbishopSistine Chapel on May 13th, 1917, the day that Our Lady of Fatima was believed to have appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. He then went to Bavaria. After the First World War (during the brief Bavarian Soviet Republic) in 1919, Pacelli was one of the few foreign diplomats to remain in Munich. It was thought that his relationship with Bavarian socialists and socialist politicians like Friedrich Ebert and Phillip Scheidemann, as well as secret negotiations with the Soviet Union was too friendly and became a controversy. Pacelli had been working on relations between the Church and the State of the Soviet Union working as a diplomat because there wasn’t any official papal nuncio in Moscow. He negotiated food shipments for Russia during a period when the Church was being persecuted by the Soviet Union government. Despite meetings with Foreign Minister Georgi Chicherin the government of the Soviet Union refused to accept any kind of religious education, as well as the ordination of priests and bishops. It is said that the Pacelli and Soviet negotiations were secretly held were questionable, but it was because of the friendship with Chicherin that caused Pacelli to try to make progress concerning the persecution of the Catholic Church. The Vatican saw no visible progress and Pope Pius XI ordered Pacelli to leave in 1927. in the
It is a known fact that Pacelli supported the Weimar Coalition with Social Democrats and liberal parties, but didn’t appear to be involved with the Centre Party such as Marx and Kaas while in Germany. All these negotiations in Germany gained Pacelli notoriety when he returned to Rome in 1929. It was on December 16th of the same year that Pacelli was appointed a cardinal, and a few months later, Pius XI appointed him Cardinal Secretary of State. In 1935, Cardinal Pacelli was named Camerlengo. As the Cardinal Secretary of State, he signed concordats that involved countries like Baden (1932), Austria (1933), Germany (1933), Yugoslavia (1935), and Portugal (1940). The concordats allowed the Catholic Church to organize youth groups, make ecclesiastical appointments, run schools, hospitals, religious services and charities. Canon law was also recognized when it concerned marriage. Traveling about Europe and America, Pacelli met Charles Coughlin and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 and reestablish a diplomatic tradition that had ended in 1870.
Cardinal Pacelli prepared for publishing the encyclical entitled Humani Generis Unitas (“On the Unity of Human Society”) in September of 1938, and historians argue that he dissuaded Pope Pius XI from condemning Kristallnacht in November 1938, but it was clear from his writings that Cardinal Pacelli openly condemned colonialism, racism and anti-Semitism, but also made accusations against Jews.
Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor on January 30th, 1933 and offered negotiations with the Vatican in order to gain international respect. Between 1933 and 1939, Pacelli issued 55 protests of violations of the Reichskonkordat, the most notable being the Mit Brennender Sorge in 1937. He wrote on June 10th, 1941 a letter to the Bishop of Passau in Bavaria:
The history of the Reichskonkordat show, that the other side lacked the most basic prerequisites to accept minimal freedoms and rights of the Church, without which the Church simply cannot live and operate, formal agreements notwithstanding.
This was nothing new to the Third Reich guided by Hitler, as he made treaties and broke them and made himself look respectable in public view while his insane policies worked in the background.
Cardinal Pacelli became Pope Pius XII on March 12th, 1939 at the coronation. After his election, he listed three objectives [Wikipedia]:
  1. A new translation of the psalms, daily recited by the religious and priests, in order for the clergy to better appreciate the beauty and richness of the Old Testament. This translation was completed in 1945
  2. A definition of the Dogma of the Assumption. This necessitated numerous studies into Church history and consultations with the episcopate worldwide. The dogma was proclaimed in November 1950.
  3. Increased archaeological excavations under St Peter's Basilica in Rome, to determine, whether St. Peter was actually buried there, or whether the Church subjected itself for more than 1500 years to a pious hoax. This was a controversial point, because of the real possibility of a major embarrassment and technical concerns, to conduct excavations under the main altar, close to the Bernini columns of the papal altar and the main support of the Michelangelo’s cupola. [67] The first results regarding the tomb of St. Peter were published in 1950.[68]
After his election, he appointed Luigi Cardinal Maglione to be the new Secretary of State, who had experience as a Vatican diplomat with Switzerland and for many years was nuncio in Paris, France. One of the main features of his reign as Pope was that he eradicated the Italian monopoly on the Roman Curia and employed German and Dutch Jesuit advisors – Robert Leiber, Augustin Bea, and Sebastian Tromp.
The Wikipedia entry has more detailed information concerning the theological policiesCanonizations and Beatifications] that Pope Pius XII achieved and strove for. [See Also
From the beginning of 1937, Pope Pius XII in his Mit Brennender Sorge warned Catholics that the Church frowned upon anti-Semitism. The edict was read from the pulpits of all German Catholic churches and even was bold enough to describe Adolf Hitler as an insane and arrogant prophet, which made it the first official denunciation of Nazism made by any large organization. Soon after, Nazi persecution of the Church began in Germany and made public accusations against Monks with Nazi newspaper headlines using it to obtain a public negative view of the Roman Catholic Church. Then Dutch bishops began protesting the deportation of Jews and more severe repercussions occurred. In Poland, the Nazi murdered over 2,500 monks and priests and others were sent to concentration camps. In Dachau, the Priester-Block (priests’ barracks), there was a list of 2,600 Roman Catholic priests present.
When the war broke out Pope Pius XII did what Pope Benedict XV did during World War I and declared the Vatican neutral. The Vatican became a center for aiding people from various parts of the world and Pope Pius XII ordered that an information office for prisoners of war and refugees to be initiated presided over by Giovanni Battista Montini that existed from 1939 to 1947. During that time over 11 million answers were given about missing persons[i].
In March of 1939, Pope Pius XII arranged for 3,000 European Jews to enter Brazil after being baptized and converted to Catholicism; however, later the visas were revoked because of improper conduct - meaning that the Jews had started practicing Judaism once they were established in Brazil. This is the part of the controversy over Pope Pius XII and his beatification.
The Jewish Virtual Library presents an argument about Pope Pius XII and his failure to answer the help and pleas on behalf of persecuted Jews during the Holocaust; despite saving at least 1,500 Jews from German deportation or being sent to concentration camps. Myron Taylor, a US representative to the Vatican, warned the Pope in 1942 that his silence was endangering moral prestige - and the reply from the Secretary of State (Vatican) was that it was impossible to verify rumors about crimes committed against Jews. However, the US was not helpful either, when, before America entered the war, a ship full of Jewish refugees from Germany was not allowed to disembark from the German-registered freighter by orders of the Roosevelt administration after being refused to disembark in South American and Central American nations. The result was the German captain had no alternative but to return to Germany where the passengers were all sent to a concentration camp.
The general public during this period of history in America refused to believe the "stories" of horror occurring in Germany and occupied countries, despite legitimate eye-witness accounts and verified reports. It wasn't until American and British troops liberated the concentration camps did the photos along with the proof of what had occurred all that time came out that the public finally became aware of the extent of Nazi cruelty.
While American and allied governments issued a declaration that there would be retribution for the perpetrators of Jewish murders, the Secretary of State, Maglione, stated that the Pope was unable to denounce publicly particular atrocities.
One reason for this position was that the staunchly anti-communist Pope felt he could not denounce the Nazi without including the Communists; therefore, Pius XII would only condemn general atrocities. During his Christmas Eve radio broadcast in 1942, he referred to the "hundreds of thousands who through no fault of their own, and solely because of their nation or race, have been condemned to death or progressive extinction." The Pope never mentioned the Jews by name. ...
In a September 1940 broadcast, the Vatican called its policy "neutrality," but stated in the same broadcast that where morality was involved, no neutrality was possible. This could imply that mass murder was not a moral issue.
On September 8, 1943, the Nazi invaded Italy and, suddenly, the Vatican was the local authority. The Nazis gave the Jews 36 hours to come up with 50 kilograms of gold or else the Nazi would take 300 hostages. The Vatican was willing to loan 15 kilos, an offer that eventually proved unnecessary when the Jews obtained an extension for the delivery.
Pius XII knew that Jewish deportations from Italy were impending. The Vatican even found out from SS First Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein the fate of those who were to be deported. Publicly, the Pope stayed silent. Privately, Pius did instruct Catholic institutions to take in Jews. The Vatican itself hid 477 Jews and another 4,238 Jews were protected in Roman monasteries and convents. On October 16, the Nazi arrested 1,007 Roman Jews, the majority of whom were women and children. They were taken to Auschwitz, where 811 were gassed immediately. Of those sent to the concentration camp, 16 survived.

As stated previously, there was good reasons for the Vatican to remain at a neutral state; however, the Jewish Virtual Library writes:
In January of 2001, a document recently declassified by the U.S. National Archives was discovered by the World Jewish Congress. The document was a report in which Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, Pope Pius XII's secretary of state, detailed and denounced several abuses committed by the Soviet Army against German inhabitants of the Soviet Union. The report was widely viewed as demonstrating that the Vatican had no compunctions about speaking out against atrocities, even when doing so would violate neutrality. ...
In 2004, news was disclosed of a diary kept by James McDonald, the League of Nations high commissioner for refugees coming from Germany. ... McDonald was specifically interested in helping a group of Jewish refugees in the Saar region, a territory claimed by France and Germany that was turned over to the Germans in 1935. The Pope's defenders cite his intercession on these Jews' behalf as evidence of his sympathy for Jews persecuted by the Nazi. According to McDonald, however, when he discussed the matter with Pacelli, "The response was noncommittal, but left me with the definite impression that no vigorous cooperation could be expected. Pacelli did intercede in January 1935 to help the Jews, but only after McDonald agreed that American Jews would use their influence in Washington to protect church properties that were being threatened by the Mexican government.
In 2005, the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, discovered a letter dated November 20, 1946, showing that Pope Pius XII ordered Jewish babies baptized by Catholics during the Holocaust not to be returned to their parents. Some scholars said the disclosure was not new and that the Pope's behavior was not remarkable. The more important story, according to Rabbi David Rosen, international director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, was that one of the recipients of the letter, Angelo Roncalli, the papal representative in Paris, ignored the papal directive.
In 2006, an Israeli scholar, Dina Porat, discovered correspondence between Haim Barlas, an emissary of the Jewish Agency sent to Europe to save Jews in the 1940s, and Giuseppe Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII. Roncalli expressed criticism of the Vatican's silence during the war. In June 1944, Barlas sent Roncalli a copy of a report compiled by two Jews who escaped from Auschwitz documenting the mass murder at the camp. Roncalli forwarded the report to the Vatican, which had claimed it did not know about the report until October. Earlier, Roncalli had written to the president of Slovakia at the behest of Barlas asking him to stop the Nazi deportation of Jews.

In 1939, the Pope employed Jewish cartographer Robert Almagia to work on old maps in the Vatican library after he had been dismissed at the University of Rome when Benito Mussolini passed an anti-Jewish legislation in 1938. The appointment of two Jews to the Vatican Academy of Science, as well as Robert Almagia was reported by the New York Times on November 11th, 1939 and January 10th, 1940.
On January 18th, 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and 15,000 Polish civilians were killed. Pope Pius XII stated in a radio broadcast:
The horror and inexcusable excesses committed on a helpless and homeless people have been established by the unimpeachable testimony of eye-witnesses.
In his first encyclical Summi Pontificatus (October 20, 1939), Pius XII publicly condemned the invasion, occupation and partition of Poland under the Nazi-Soviet Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. …
“The blood of countless human beings, even noncombatants, raises a piteous dirge over a nation such as Our dear Poland, which, for its fidelity to the Church, for its services in the defense of Christian civilization, written in indelible characters in the annals of history, has a right to the generous and brotherly sympathy of the whole world, while it awaits, relying on the powerful intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, the hour of a resurrection in harmony with the principles of justice and true peace.”
- Summi Pontificatus, 106.
A detailed examination of the period known as the Holocaust is given at a Wikipedia entry. See also Hitler’s Pope.
The major controversy began in 1999 when John Cornwell wrote Hitler’s Pope, a book that criticized Pope Pius XII for not doing enough, or speaking out enough, against the Holocaust. Cornwell’s book and research has been criticized.
Realistically, the Vatican was no match to be openly hostile towards Nazi Germany, in fact it would have been disastrous. It is a well-known fact that Adolf Hitler had an interest in art and historical artifacts, especially that of the occult. During his reign and when he occupied a country in Europe, he would transfer art treasures and historical artifacts to Germany with an intention of eventually building a great museum to house all the captured artifacts from his conquered territory – making it the property of the Third Reich. It all coincided with the grand scheme to make Berlin as impressive as ancient Rome was, just as Mussolini envisioned Rome to return to its grandeur under his dictatorship. The Vatican houses more historical artifacts and priceless treasures in the form of books, manuscripts, text, scrolls, artwork, et cetera than any other establishment in the world. If any of it was lost, it would not just be a loss for the Vatican, but to the world – especially the history of Christianity. Having experienced the First World War, Pope Pius XII knew if he did more secretly and from the eyes and ears of the Nazi Gestapo, he could achieve more in terms of saving the lives of those persecuted, mainly the Jews. Unfortunately he could not save his own priest and monks from concentration camps and death, but has been credited for saving many Jewish lives during this horrific period. In addition, he had to deal with the tyrant Mussolini, but Benito knew he wouldn’t last long in power if he did anything physical against the Roman Catholic Church. The serious persecution began when Germany occupied Italy for its safety and Mussolini became nothing but a puppet leader for Hitler.
Five years after the release of Hitler’s Pope, Cornwell stated:
I would now argue, in the light of the debates and evidence following Hitler’s Pope, that Pius XII had so little scope of action that it is impossible to judge the motives for his silence during the war, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany.
Historians provide several reasons why Pope Pius XII did what he did and seemingly ignored certain situations.
1. Fear of Nazi reprisals, after all there were Catholics in concentration camps, along with others.
2. The church's tradition of being neutral during a period of war.
3. Fear that if the Vatican would strongly protest, it would further jeopardize the lives of the Jews they had in hiding.
4. Fear of the communists if the Nazi were defeated. 

Church policies during World War II
Pope Pius XII Church policies after World War II
The Vatican and Eastern Europe
Eastern Canon Law Reforms
The Vatican and Eastern Europe
Social Teachings of Pope Pius XII
Theology of Pope Pius XII
Ad Apostolorum Principis
Decennium Dum Expletur
Apostolic constitutions and bulls 
Apostolic Writings
History of the Roman Catholic Church
History of Roman Catholic Theology
History of the Papacy
Timeline of the Roman Catholic Church 
History of Christianity
History of Christian Theology
Diplomats of the Holy See
Sovereigns of Vatican City
The Roman Curia
Pope Pius XII and the Anti-Defamation League
Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust
Pope Pius XII Library
New Book Recounts Pope Pius XII's Efforts to Save Thousands of Jews - Catholic News Agency
Vatican Policy and the Gratitude of Jews - Sister Margherita Marchione
Sixty Years After Mystici Corporis

[i] Considering that there were 9,891,497 requests seeking information about missing persons, this is a pretty good record.

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