Homage to Pius XII, 70 Years After His Election

Source: FSSPX News


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After the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII (1939-1958) in October 2008, The Osservatore Romano, in its March 2, 2009 edition, rendered a new homage to Pius XII elected pope on March 2, 1939. Gian Maria Vian, director of the daily of the Holy See, devoted the editorial to the “last Roman pope”, considering the Pontificate of Pius XII “one of the most important in the 20th century.” The journalist and historian mentioned the “unique experience” of this pope  concerning “the Church” as well as “international affairs.” And he called to mind “the abyss of the war and its inexpressible horrors, and first of all the Holocaust, which Pacelli as disarmed as his Church confronted, indefatigably repeating words of peace and working silently to save as many human lives as possible.”  “This work in favor of peace (…) was at first acknowledged, and later forgotten, even darkened by polemics used purposely, and deprived of any historical basis.” Yet, he added: “70 years after the election of Eugenio Pacelli, a wide and better balanced consensus concerning his action during the war and the importance of his pontificate seem to be coming back.”

Two full pages were devoted to the anniversary of the election of Pius XII and  offered to the readers his first message on airwaves on March 3, 1939, the day following his election, together with excerpts from his first Encyclical, Summi Pontificatus of October 20, 1939. In an article devoted to the “reactions of the international press” of the time, L’Osservatore Romano, also called to mind the “indignation of the Nazis, and the approval of the communists.”

As Benedict XVI will be visiting Israel in the coming month of May, the figure of Pius XII and his alleged “silence” before the extermination of the Jews caused new tensions between the Jewish community and Rome last October. Benedict XVI stated again his wish that the cause of beatification of the pope of the Second World War was to “be carried on without incident”, a beatification which is criticized by numerous Jews. (See DICI  n° 183)

Later on, the Vatican specified that Pius XII would probably not be beatified before the full opening of the archives of his pontificate, emphasizing that this latter would demand at least 6 to 7 years of work to classify all the documents. The insistent homage rendered by Rome lately gives us to understand that the outcome of the cause of beatification will be successful. (See DICI n° 186)

On March 4, Fr. Peter Gumpel, sj., relator of the cause of beatification of Pope Eugenio Pacelli declared on the airwaves of Radio Vatican, that a new document  testifies to Pius XII’s action in favor of the Jews during the last war. The document, dated November 1943, was in the “Memorial of the Augustinian Sisters of the Monastery of the Four Crowned Saints” in Rome, and bears the following note: “The Holy Father wants to save his Children, including the Jews, and gives orders to the monastery to grant hospitality to those persecuted.” Fr. Gumpel stressed the importance of the document, because such written testimonies are rare for security reasons. This gave the opportunity to some who continue to attack Pius XII, saying that there are no documents proving that the Sovereign Pontiff helped the Jews. Indeed, the “rescue operation” undertaken by the pope “was performed by personal messengers, priests who were sent to the various institutions and Catholic houses, here in Rome, to universities, seminaries, parishes, or convents of Sisters,” Fr. Gumpel explained. (Sources: apic/imedia/AFP/Radio Vatican)