Should Pius XII Become a Saint?

Pope Benedict XVI has been speaking about his predecessor, Pope Pius XII in very favorable terms lately, specifically at the world Synod of Bishops, when he explicitly mentioned Pius’s response to the Holocaust.  All this has raised expectations that his beatification may be imminent.  It is a move that has concerned many Jewish groups since his canonization was first proposed.  Pope Pius, said Benedict, "often acted secretly and silently because, in the light of the concrete realities of that complex historical moment, he saw that this was the only way to avoid the worst and save the largest possible number of Jews."  Jeff Israely of Time has a good overview of the story here.  Others have suggested that Pius remained intentionally silent, while encouraging others in the clergy and religious orders to hide Jews in Italy, knowing while this approach could save many Jews, it would also damage his posthumous reputation: this approach has been called Pius’s "martyrdom of silence."  At the same time, as John Allen in NCR, and others have reported, Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, the first rabbi ever to address the synod, indirectly criticized Pius, saying, “We cannot forget the sad and painful fact of how many, including great religious leaders, didn’t raise a voice in the effort to save our brethren, but chose to keep silent and help secretly,”  This comes on the heels of a critique by a rabbi in last week’s London Tablet (not available online).  Robert Mickens covers the "red faces" at the synod over the rabbi’s statements in this week’s Tablet.  Finally, a new book by one of Pius’s strongest defenders, Sister Marguerita Marchione, author of several books on Pius, has hits the stands in Italy.  It’s called "Pius XII: The Truth Will Set You Free."  In the foreward, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone called Pius "neither silent nor anti-semitic," but "prudent."   All this, and certainly his beatification, is bound to anger some, please some, and increase demands, from nearly everyone, on the Vatican to open up more of its files on the man who seems destined to become Blessed Pius XII.

James Martin, SJ

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9 years 1 month ago
The pope was an active member of the Nazi youth corps. It is not surprizing when he sees nothing wrong with a Pope who did not dare to raise his voice against the Shoah.
9 years 1 month ago
Graham Greene, in his 1952 essay "The Paradox of a Pope" (in Greene's Collected Essays) wrote that, tho' he never issued Pius XI's last encyclical, "The new Pope [Pius XII] had been closely associated with his predecessor's [anti-fascist] policy, and his attitude to affairs in Germany was well known. At a party which he gave in Rome after his return from Germany, an old Conservative friend of his, the marchese Patrizi, was overheard by him to remark tht it was a good thing Germany had a strong man who would deal with the Communists. Cardinal Pacelli turned on him. 'For goodness' sake, Joseph,' he said, 'don't talk such nonsense. The nazis are infinitely worse.' We can assume therefore that neither Hitler nor Mussolini were gratified when the Conclave, breaking a tradition of nearly 300 years, elected the Secretary of State Pope in March 1939 at age sixty-three." I know a man who was in the first group of US soldiers to enter Rome; he was shown around a few churches by a priest who told him that people could now see the churches again because the threat had been lifted from the Jewish refugees who had crowded into them at the order of the pope. Pius XI and XII were absolutely instrumental both in saving as many Jews as possible & in help their successors drive out anti-semitism as an acceptable position for Catholics.
9 years 1 month ago
The answer will depend on what a person thinks of sanctity.If a person has little interest or belief that God is working through souls and giving light to others in His many mysterious ways then I would say that that person would fail to see any redeeming features in the Pope.If a person struggles themselves for sanctity thay will be more understanding of the conflicts the Pope encountered.They will not be so easily influenced by secular criterias and may come to view him as a man of intense holiness very conscious of the suffering of others and willing to do all in his power to help them.The media will stick as always to categories that do not recognize the Gospel or its objectives.The article by James Martin falls into this category.Some say this,some say that etc.A saint of our times?Truly!!!
9 years 1 month ago
While I am glad to see that this discussion did not focus on the "how many miracles" question, it seems that one additional driving reason to canonioze him is not to get John XXIII ahead in line. I don't think the time is ripe without further access to the archives, as noted, and the aspect of Ratzinger-- Benedict XVI -- proclaiming this would serve exactly what?
9 years 1 month ago
An e-mail from William Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights recently cited many editorials from the NY Times during and after WW II and from other publications that honored Pius XII as well as several then curent quotations of well known rabbais who praised his efforts to help the victims of the Nazis. Please check them and use them, if they are accurate, in helping Pius to sainthood.
9 years 1 month ago
I do believe it is possible that Pope Pius XII will be canonized by a future, non-German pope. Pope Pius XII has been deceased 50 years. The fact that Pope Pius XII, gone for 50 long years, is still being acclaimed as a saint by many Catholics, is a sign that his personal sanctity left quite an enduring impression on people. This enduring reputation of holiness is a good argument on his behalf. The headline to this article is misleading in some ways. Canonization won't make Pope Pius ''become a saint.'' Canonization is the Church's solemn and joyful recognition that Pope Pius XII is already a saint enjoying the beatific vision. If Pope Pius XII is a saint, as I believe he is, he became a saint during his earthly life with God's grace. Every morning I ask the Servant of God Pope Pius XII to pray for me. I consider this holy, wise, and decent man one of my patron saints. And I rejoice in asking him to pray for me. He is an example for all of us to make certain that we root our various ministries --lay and ordained-- in a deeply prayerful-contemplative relationship with God. I do hope that Pope Pius XII has his entire life and ministry weighed in the canonization process (and not just the war years). If Pope Pius XII was somehow hostile to Jews, he would not have taken any risks to help or save even one Jew during the war. The people who had audiences with Pope Pius XII have always reported that he had a very powerful presence of humility and holiness. He was also reportedly good-humored and very kind. I realize these human perceptions are very subjective. But humans, created in God's image, can recognize and sense when they are in the presence of a person possessing great sanctity. In this era of loud indiscretion perhaps we can all learn something from the wisdom, humility, and Godly caution of Pope Pius XII.
9 years 1 month ago
read the books about the pope and read between the lines of "hitler's pope",cromwell was given access to archives and spun them against pope pius xii who did battle during WWII with the very demon from hell itself,adolf hitler.put yourself if you can in that position what would you do?silence saved more than verbal aggresssion to hitler that maybe you think the pope was able to live to save the ones he was able to,what if hitler had him killed and the vatican overtaken because pope pius xii spoke out.i pray to pope pius for simple kind things.i know he loved animals and there are pictures on the internet with them in loving gestures.i ask him to help give me strength to feed many stray cats and i know he is there,in unspoken solace and love for my humble endeavors.i know that i know,whether canonized or not,he is there for me,he is my third cousin,a saint for the simplest.
9 years 1 month ago
Why not? If canonization recognizes an individual's holiness and sanctity, and if the process reveals that Pius XII indeed displayed that during his life, then why shouldn't he become a saint? Even the good Rabbi says that the Pontiff did "help secretly" when he ordered the Vatican and convents and monasteries to shelter Jews from capture. Did that not save lives? The real question is why did Pius XII not actively and forcefully speak out on the Holocaust. On this, it may be helpful to ask whether it would have accomplished the sparing of more lives? It is hard for me to believe that Hitler and his minions would take cease and desist orders from a Christian leader whose anti-Nazi views were well-known from his time as Secretary of State for the Holy See. Moreover, whenever bishops in Germany and Holland did warn against Naziism from the pulpit, they were met with fierce reprisals against the Church as well as the Jews. Instead of looking at this as a strategic maneuver, it has become easier for us to impart diabolical (such as anti-semitism) motives to Pius XII's perceived silence. On this count, even John Cornwall had to take a second look at "Hitler's Pope", his screed against Pius XII: 'I would now argue, in the light of the debates and evidence following Hitler's Pope, that Pius XII had so little scope of action that it is impossible to judge the motives for his silence during the war, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany.' Having such 'little scope for action' should not disqualify anyone from sainthood. If it does, then one could logically say that Mother Teresa should not be a saint because she didn't cure poverty.
9 years 1 month ago
Absolutely Pius XII should be proposed for sainthood. He was our Pope until the year I graduated from college. He was the first Pope that I knew from my years in Catholic school and in my opinion was indeed a saintly person who cared deeply for our Church and for the good of all people, even those who were not under his care. After WWII it seemed that for a time his holiness and care were recognized, but then many seemed to turn against him and did their best to destroy his reputation.
9 years 1 month ago
Pope Pius XII has often been referred to as the Pope of Fatima, although it now seems that this title may also be given to Pope John Paul II. It is not surprising that there are so many negative comments about Pope Pius XII consideing the support he gave to the message of Fatima and the possible annihilation of nations predicted by Our Lady if we do not respond to her pleas and turn back to God. Pope John Paul II has also spoken of our being on the brink of disaster. But it is so much easier to ignore the signs of the times rather than to concede that possibly this world wide credit crisis is part of Our Lady's prophesy!
9 years 1 month ago
Pope Pius XII has often been referred to as the Pope of Fatima, although it now seems that this title may also be given to Pope John Paul II. It is not surprising that there are so many negative comments about Pope Pius XII consideing the support he gave to the message of Fatima and the possible annihilation of nations predicted by Our Lady if we do not respond to her pleas and turn back to God. Pope John Paul II has also spoken of our being on the brink of disaster. But it is so much easier to ignore the signs of the times rather than to concede that possibly this world wide credit crisis is part of Our Lady's prophesy!
9 years 1 month ago
The Vatican was surrounded by Axis territory until June 1944. What was the Pope supposed to do? Just because Pius XII was timid did not make him a ''Nazi.'' As for our current Pope-he was drafted into the German Army. Given that the Soviets were on German soil slaughtering the civilian population-I might have joined myself if I were a German. Pius XII simply saw the fact that a large proportion of Bolsheviks were Jews and drew the obvious conclusion. The Soviet Union was not an innocent bystander in what later became the ''holocaust.'' I don't know if he was a saint, but Pius XII was certainly a saintly man.
9 years 1 month ago
NO
9 years 1 month ago
It is disappointing that Fr. Martin couldn't have said something supportive of Pope Pius XII in his article, given the overwhelming evidence that he worked vigorously on behalf of Jews at great personal risk while also doing all he could to save all lives and end the war. Cardinal Bertone is precisely correct, Pius XII was ''neither silent nor anti-semitic.'' In 1942 the New York Times editorial page praised Pius XII for being ''a lonely voice crying out of the silence of the continent'' This wasn't the first or only time Pius' was recognized as being outspoken, rather than silent. There is ample contemporary evidence that Pius' meaning from his public statements was quite clear to all, on both sides of the war, even though the words were carefully chosen. Claiming that Pius XII should have said more is not an honest criticism. There is no way to answer such a challenge favorably, no matter what Pius XII said or didn't say, let alone what he actually did on behalf of the Jews. Nor is there any reason to think that if he had acted less prudently, and spoken more plainly against Nazi Germany, that any fewer lives would have been lost. To think so is mere speculation, wishful thinking on the part of those who are looking for an opportunity to criticize Pius XII instead of dealing honestly with his legacy. We should all, Jew and Gentile alike, remember Pius XII and thank him for his service, to Jews and others who were endangered during WWII. This is not an issue on which we should be neutral. Otherwise someone might eventually accuse us of having been silent when more clarity was required.

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