Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

December 22, 2009

John Paul II and Pius XII

Saturday Pope Benedict XVI declared Popes John Paul II and Pius XII venerable, much to my joy! JPII is the pope of my childhood, and therefore very beloved (and I saw him twice!). Pius XII is, of course, a very controversial figure, though most of what is said of him is either unfair or outright false. It was a classic Pope Benedict move to bring forward their causes at the same time. John Paul II is, in so many ways, a Santo Subito, while Pius's legacy is much more murky.

All the same, I have loved Pius XII, and hope that this declaration will provide an opportunity to defend him against the claims that he aided the holocaust (when, in fact, he encouraged his priests to do the opposite). He was a man of courage, and the most recent pope who's legal duties as heaad of a nation were as important has his pastoral duty as head of the Church. I've always thought him a man of heroic virtue. I'm glad Papa B agrees. He said, on Saturday:
When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people...Wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. [He made] many interventions, secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews.

This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them. One need only recall Pius XII's meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.

1 comment:

Julian said...

I agree that it's really important for both of their causes to be brought forward at the same time. Both of them worked wonders in secret during the persecution...JP II entering seminary and befriending Jews and Catholics in occupied Poland and Pius XII secretly helping Jews as the shepherd of the universal church. I think they are both examples of all that the "Father knows in secret." How often do I judge only what I see rather than the things that are done by others behind closed doors.

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