"Furthermore, We declare, We proclaim, We define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."- Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Catholic scholars urge Pope to slow Pius sainthood

Despite the typical media hype surrounding this article, especially the end bit where the Pope's past in the Hitler Youth League and the lifting of the excommunication of "holocaust-denier" Bishop Williamson, are brought up, rather unnecessarily, I think this article actually brings forth a good point. Despite my personal opinions regarding Venerable Pius XII, and despite what I think of ecumenism, I must say I agree with the Catholic scholars. History will vindicate Venerable Pius XII, and if it means Pope Benedict must slow down the canonization process of Pius XII, in order to fully examine the historical evidence from the Vatican Archives, then I say go ahead. Also, like I said earlier, despite my feelings regarding ecumenism, there is no need to offend the Jews unnecessarily. If Pius XII's canonization is held off a bit longer, the media, sensitive Jews, and other enemies of the Church will forget about this and move on to something else. - Ashley

ROME (Reuters) - Top Catholic scholars have written an unusual and impassioned private letter to Pope Benedict urging him to slow down the sainthood procedure for wartime Pope Pius XII, accused of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust.

The letter, which was made available to Reuters by a source familiar with the initiative, is extremely rare because in the past it has mostly been Jewish groups and not Catholic academics who have written to Popes about the issue.

The 18 Catholic scholars from United States, Germany and Australia, used the word "implore" twice in the letter, saying that if Pius was made a saint before the historical record is cleared up, it could irreparably harm Catholic-Jewish relations.

"Holy Father, we implore you, acting on your wisdom as a renowned scholar, professor and teacher, to be patient with the cause of Pius XII," the scholars wrote in their letter.
Many Jews say Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, did not do enough to help Jews facing persecution by Nazi Germany.

The Vatican maintains that Pius chose to work behind the scenes, concerned that public intervention would have worsened the situation for both Jews and Catholics in a wartime Europe dominated by Hitler.

The Catholic scholars suggested that they had to take a hard-line judgment on Pius until Vatican archives were open for more study by historians.

"Currently, existing research leads us to the view that Pope Pius XII did not issue a clearly worded statement, unconditionally condemning the wholesale slaughter and murder of European Jews," the scholars told the German Pope.


In December, Benedict angered Jews when he approved a decree recognizing Pius's "heroic virtues", moving him one step closer to sainthood. The two remaining steps are beatification and canonization.

"The movement to press forward at this time the process of beatification of Pius XII greatly troubles us," the scholars told the Pope.

The scholars included Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski of the Catholic Theological Union, a leading historian on Judaism and the Holocaust and Dr. Eugene Fisher, the retired expert on Jewish relations for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference.

Copies of the letter were to be sent to Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican official in charge of relations with Jews, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, a leading figure in Catholic-Jewish dialogue in the United States.

Jews have asked repeatedly that the Vatican's wartime archives be opened for study and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom repeated the request to the Pope directly when the Pontiff visited Rome's synagogue last month.

"We implore you to ensure that such a historical investigation takes place before proceeding with the (sainthood) cause of Pope Pius XII," the scholars told the Pope.

They said that Pius had become in essence, a de facto "symbol of Christian-anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism" and added:

"Proceeding with the cause of Pope Pius XII without an exhaustive study of his actions during the Holocaust might harm Jewish-Catholic relations in a way that cannot be overcome in the foreseeable future."

Benedict, a German who was drafted into the Hitler Youth and German army as a teenager during World War Two, has had a more difficult relationship with the Jewish community than his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

Many are still seething at his decision last year to start the rehabilitation process of traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson, who denied the full extent of the Holocaust.


sixmillionbook said...

Even if Pope Pius XII was a great person, and even if—as his supporters claim—he was a great friend and helper of Jews during the war, a Catholic whose “heroic virtues” merit the title of “saint”, pursuing the process of canonization is counterproductive at this time when so many people believe Pope Pius XII did not do everything in his power to save the Jews (to put it mildly). Pope Benedict should heed the advice from these scholars and delay the canonization process.

The Vatican Secret Archives for the WWII period need to be opened. This is ultimately also for the Church's benefit, even if it does show, as I think it will, that the Church as such did very little to help the hounded Jews. After all, it was the Church itself that published eleven volumes of documents forty years ago precisely to counter allegations that Pope Pius XII did not do as much as he should have. It’s safe to assume the Church would have shown its best, most compelling documentation showing Pope Pius helping Jews if it had it, and it would have been totally counterproductive to have left clear evidence of this help out of those eleven volumes. I think one can logically assume the documentation simply does not exist.

Gabriel Wilensky

Six Million Crucifixions:
How Christian Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust
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Ashley said...

I find it quite strange that only about 50 years ago, Jews and Catholics alike were praising this man, and now he is slandered from every corner. I personally believe this man is a saint, and I have no fear of what the Vatican Archives will reveal...Hence I am quite content with waiting a little longer for the canonization process...

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