Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Should Pope Pius XII be canonized?

I just had a very irate Jewish gentleman call me to castigate Pope Benedict for elevating Pope Pius XII to the status of Venerable. He said that Pope Pius XII did not do enough to condemn Adolph Hitler and should in no way be held in high esteem by anyone. I asked him to read the New York Times articles at the time of Pope Pius XII which wrote of him in glowing terms and being a the preeminent world leader against the atrocities of the Nazis. At any rate, the controversy continues and the Vatican must now put fires out as it does in the communique below. Perhaps a German pope is not the best one to offer accolades to a Nazi era pope that many perceive as indifferent to the plight of the Jews?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Note of the Holy See Press Office
concerning the decree on the heroic virtues of Pius XII

"The Pope's signing of the decree 'on the heroic virtues' of Pius XII has elicited a certain number of reactions in the Jewish world; perhaps because the meaning of such a signature is clear in the area of the Catholic Church and of specialists in the field, but may merit certain explanation for the larger public, in particular the Jewish public who are understandably very sensitive to all things concerning the historical period of World War II and the Holocaust.

"When the Pope signs a decree 'on the heroic virtues' of a Servant of God - i.e., of a person for whom a cause for beatification has been introduced - he confirms the positive evaluation already voted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. ... Naturally, such evaluation takes account of the circumstances in which the person lived, and hence it is necessary to examine the question from a historical standpoint, but the evaluation essentially concerns the witness of Christian life that the person showed (his intense relationship with God and continuous search for evangelical perfection) ... and not the historical impact of all his operative decisions".

"At the beatification of Pope John XXIII and of Pope Pius IX, John Paul II said: 'holiness lives in history and no saint has escaped the limits and conditioning which are part of our human nature. In beatifying one of her sons, the Church does not celebrate the specific historical decisions he may have made, but rather points to him as someone to be imitated and venerated because of his virtues, in praise of the divine grace which shines resplendently in them'.

"There is, then, no intention in any way to limit discussion concerning the concrete choices made by Pius XII in the situation in which he lived. For her part, the Church affirms that these choices were made with the pure intention of carrying out the Pontiff's service of exalted and dramatic responsibility to the best of his abilities. In any case, Pius XII's attention to and concern for the fate of the Jews - something which is certainly relevant in the evaluation of his virtues - are widely testified and recognised, also by many Jews.

"The field for research and evaluation by historians, working in their specific area, thus remains open, also for the future. In this specific case it is comprehensible that there should be a request to have open access to all possibilities of research on the documents. ... Yet for the complete opening of the archives - as has been said on a number of occasions in the past - it is necessary to organise and catalogue an enormous mass of documentation, something which still requires a number of years' work.

"As for the fact that the decree on the heroic virtues of Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII were promulgated on the same day, this does not mean that from now on the two causes will be 'paired'. They are completely independent of one another and each will follow its own course. There is, then, no reason to imagine that any future beatification will take place together".

"It is, then, clear that the recent signing of the decree is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Rather we trust that the Pope's forthcoming visit to the Synagogue of Rome will be an opportunity for the cordial reiteration and reinforcement of ties of friendship and respect".


Jody Peterman said...

He did more than any other leader in the world for the Jews during this time period. When they speak negatively of him they acknowledge in a subconscious way that the Roman Pontiff is the defacto moral leader of the World.

Robert Kumpel said...

I am convinced more than ever that those who raise objections about the sanctity of good Pope Pius know fully well that he indeed is not the "war criminal" they accuse him of being. It comes down to something more sinister, which, in many cases, I don't think they are honest enough to admit to themselves: They simply want to discredit the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

Many groups inculding,Jews, Catholics, Muslims, women, etc., etc.,seem to focus at times on their victimhood.
Surely recognizing suffering, discrimination, and even martyrdom that has occurred within and to one's particular group is not to be dismissed, by any means.
However, when you find yourself focusing on only the partial picture so as to point a finger at, for example, a narrow snap-shot of Pope Pius XII's papacy or someone else's distorted interpretation of it, then are you doing that which you condemn?
If you stay focused on your victimhood, aren't you preventing yourself from profiting from it and moving forward? When you don't accept responsibilty for your role in that 'persecution' and choose to turn that 'persecution' into now a right to be entitled, are you not doing what you condemn?

The fact that women in the US have been suppressed and denied the right to fully use their God given abilites is true, but to focus on that victimhood to the point that a woman now has the right to rip a child out of her God given womb is an example.
The fact that millions of innocent humans who were Jews were brutallized an murdered only a few decades ago is indeed true. But to use that as an excuse to portray oneself as the grand victims of human history and thus be entitiled to special treatment while ignoring how you treat your own geographical neighbors and condemning others who did not give you the exhalted treatment you think you were entitled to is so perverse, in my humble opinion.

It's all too easy for us to believe a certain 'slant' of an issue without taking the effort to investigate it fully before coming to a fully educated decision, especially when it comes to emotionally charged isssues.
I can be guilty of this at times myself.

This brings 3 questions to mind?
Why do the Jews insist upon not believing that Jesus was indeed the messiah they're still waiting for, that he was nothing more than a really good prophet?

What was this man saying? what was his beef with Pope Pius XII exactly?

What did you tell Him?

I hope you'll blog about this so that we can come to understand the perspective that some of our local Jews, assuming the caller was local, have on this issue what understand their perspective. Also, to help us respond properly when we are faced with this issue among our friends and coworkers.

Thank You

Oh yeah, Jody Peterman is right..the pope is in fact the defacto moral leader of the world.

PS OOOOh... I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during that conversation!