Congress on “the Heritage of the Magisterium of Pius XII and the Second Vatican Council”

Source: FSSPX News


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In the morning of November 8, Benedict XVI received the participants in the Congress on The Heritage of the Magisterium of Pius XII and the Second Vatican Council, promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University and the Pontifical Gregorian University from November 6 to 8. Benedict XVI first underlined that these past years “when one spoke of Pius XII, the attention was drawn in an excessive way to only one issue, considered, moreover, in a rather unilateral manner” which prevented an adequate approach to “the figure of great historical-theological depth that Pope Pius XII has been.” Benedict XVI described his magisterium “of a vast and beneficent breath” and constituting “a precious heritage from which the Church has and continues to derive great profit.”

Then, Benedict XVI presented Pius XII as “an accomplished diplomat, an outstanding jurist, and an excellent theologian.” My predecessor, he added was “a realistic and measured man” who possessed an “uncommon intelligence, and iron memory.” “He abhorred sterile polemics and was deeply distrustful in regards to fanaticism and sentimentalism.” “He was contrary to improvisations: he wrote each discourse with the maximum care, weighing each phrase and each word before pronouncing it in public.”

“Before all else,” the Holy Father declared, this pope “was a priest in constant and intimate union with God, a priest who found the strength for his enormous work in long periods of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, in silent colloquy with his Creator and Redeemer. From there sprang the origin and impulse of his Magisterium as, on the other hand, it was for his every other activity.”

“Already 50 years have passed since his death, but his multifaceted and fruitful Magisterium remains even for Christians today one of priceless value,” the pope explained. “This is why the heritage of the Magisterium of Pius XII has been gathered by the Second Vatican Council and reproposed to the later Christian generations.” “With the exception of Scripture,” Benedict XVI specified, this pope is the most frequently cited source in the conciliar documents since “it is also well known that the special notes of these documents are not, generally, simple explicative references, but often constitute true and proper integral parts of conciliar texts. They do not furnish only justifications to support what the text affirms, but offer an interpretive key.”

Our comment: On this presentation of Pius XII as a forerunner of the Second Vatican Council, let us be permitted to recall what Jean Madiran wrote in the newspaper Present in his July 12, 2008 issue: It did not escape the author of the encyclical Humani Generis “that the Vatican Council (1869-1870) had been interrupted because of the entrance of the Italian troops into Rome. Consequently, he wondered whether the interrupted Council should be resumed. He sought advice, meditated and prayed, and eventually deemed it imprudent to gather a council at a time where it was already hard enough to contain the revolutionary turmoil of a clergy who was rebellious at heart.” This is why the symposium organized by the Institut Civitas, in Paris, on January 31, will do a useful work by showing the timeliness of the teaching of Pius XII when confronted with contemporary errors.

In the opening address of the Congress, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, presented Eugenio Pacelli, Secretary of State and Sovereign Pontiff, taking the liberty to “recall some known facts, but which were not always interpreted within their historical context and were even sometimes misrepresented.” The cardinal wished to the defend the pope of the Second World War, because “to present Pius XII as indifferent to the fate of the victims of Nazism: Polish, and especially Jews, or even like ‘Hitler’s pope’ was more than an outrage, it was historically untenable.” And he continued: “The image of a pope who was a slave of the Americans and the chaplain of the West, which was continually spread and supported by the Soviets and their allies in the European democracies during the Cold War” is equally “groundless from a historical viewpoint.” (Sources: apic/imedia/Osservatore Romano/