Category Archives: Pope Pius XII

Documents between 1939-45 on Pius XII papacy

The Vatican Publishing House is making available, free of charge on the internet, more than 8,000 pages of the Actes et Documents du Sainte-Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (1965-1981) edited by Jesuit Fathers Pierre Blet, Angelo Martini, Robert A. Graham and Burkhart Schneider.


vatican secret archive.jpgThe release of these documents are the result of a request of the Pave the Way  Foundation (PTWF) made to the Holy See to digitalize and publish 5,125 documents of the Vatican Secret Archives dated from March 1939 to May 1945. PTWF president Gary Krupp said his Foundation aims to remove the barriers between Catholic and Judaism. He told Jesús Colina of Zenit, “In the futherance of our mission we have recognized the papacy of the war time Pope Pius XII as a source of friction impacting over one billion people.”


More information on the Vatican Secret Archives may be found here.

Pius and Jewish opinion

Members of The World Jewish Congress, among others, have made their opinions about Pope Benedict’s acknowledgement of his predecessor’s heroic virtues, step two of four with the goal of being recognized a saint. Pope Pius XII was head of the Catholic Church (1939-58) during the Second World War and falling asleep in the Lord in 1958. The WJC thinks Benedict was wrong in moving Pius closer to sainthood. BTW, a pope does not have the power to make saints because he doesn’t have absolute power; that would make him more powerful than God. For the record, God makes saints, the church’s process recognizes what God has done.

This step of saying Pius XII (and others) lived a life of heroic virtue allows for a scientific and theological investigation into the miracles purported to have been wrought through their intercession. A misconception is that a saint causes miracles to happen. Only God has the power to do miraculous things. Catholics believe that miracles are done only by God’s power. The purpose of Jesus’ miracles was “to bear witness to the fact that the Kingdom is present in him, the Messiah. (Compendium of CCC, 108). Hence the saint, while not God, does intercede on behalf of humanity before the Throne of Grace to do something for humanity to build faith and to advance the kingdom of God. Miracles are not magic.
The WJC and other interested parties want access to the Vatican archives of the Pius pontificate and then they want consensus as to what is there. Their request is fair request because the historical record ought to be known. But with 16 million documents from the Pius pontificate it takes lots of time and money to catalog such an archive. Would Jewish groups consider contributing to the archival work with manpower and money? Nevertheless, it is not for Jews or anyone else to determine matters of faith, as WJC pointed out but other Jewish groups don’t think the same, like the Chief Rabbi of France who continues to put forward the thesis that Pius was too silent in the face of evil and should not be considered as a possible saint. And Shira Schoenberg uses materials written by those who oppose the sainthood process of Pius (not surprising) and neglects evidence that contradicts her thesis. Her conclusions to me are mainly due to flawed scholarship and cliche.
I am curious as why the secular Jews follow so closely matters of Catholic faith. They’ve virtually abandoned their own and they want Catholics to listen to their opinions as to what should and should not happen viz. Catholicism. It is one thing to speak about historical matters but it is another to address matters of faith. I don’t know many reasonable-minded Christians telling Jews what to believe and how to live their faith. Perhaps more work needs to be done on the liturgical texts of the birkat haminim, the daily prayers of the synagogue. The birkat haminim is the 12th benediction of 18 which calls for the downfall of various groups of people who harm or detract (apostates) from the Jewish communion. Historically this malediction is oriented toward Christians, according to Jewish liturgical scholars. Perhaps Catholics should have an open protest of these prayers?
Calvin Freiburger’s post on his blog is fair-minded but I think he could be brave enough to openly call a spade a spade: I think Mr. James Carroll is a disingenuous and his work is purely revisionist with the sole purpose to discredit the Catholic Church. Carroll’s own credibility is lacking when it comes to analyzing known evidence on what Pius did and didn’t do. In my opinion Carroll is doing nothing less than to stir up controversy where there is none and to scandalize people where there is no scandal.
One final thought here: no doubt that lives lost during WWII is reprehensible. The Jewish and Christian holocaust of WWII was a failure for humanity. Christians and non-Christians across the world didn’t do all they could to save lives threatened and exterminated; allied governments didn’t do enough to pressure the Nazi regime to change their behavior. Even that some Christians exhibited anti-semitic sentiments is discouraging. Pope Pius XII has not gotten a fair historical review of his work as Supreme Pontiff viz. WWII. A failure to put aside the smear campaign of the Communists is regrettable for the scholars because it is dishonest.

Pope Pius XII, Servant of God: died 51 years ago today

Pope Pius XII2.jpg

It is custom in the Catholic Church to recall the ministry of past popes and to pray for them on the anniversary of their death. The Church sets aside special Mass prayers for the occasion. We do the same for each and every person who dies but the remembrance of a pope’s death has universal importance given his place in history and the theological implications of his ministry as the Vicar of Christ.
God our Father, you reward all who believe in you. May Your servant, Pius XII, our Pope, vicar of Peter, and shepherd of Your Church, who faithfully administered the mysteries of Your forgiveness and love on earth, rejoice with You for ever in heaven.

More on Pope Pius XII may be found here and here. Pray for his beatification.

Pius XII, Pope and Servant of God: 50th anniversary of death

Pius XII.jpgIn Your wise providence, O God, You wished Your servant Pius XII to be counted one of the Popes. Please number him also among the company of Your saintly Pontiffs, we beg You, since he ruled as Vicar on earth of Your only Son. This we ask through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Born: March 2, 1876

Ordained Bishop: May 13, 1917

Elected Pope: March 2, 1939

Dies: October 9, 1958



To note, Religious Teachers Filippini Sister Margherita Marchione recently published another
Sr Magherita Marcione.jpgbook on Pope Pius; this one is entitled, Pius XII: The Truth Will Set You Free (Paulist Press) with a prologue written by Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone, the Secretary of State to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.


Today, Pope Benedict celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of Pope Pius and then visited the tomb in the Vatican grotto.


Pope Benedict’s homily can be read here. But a few things stand out in what the Pope said:


The war highlighted the love he felt for his “beloved Rome”, a love demonstrated by the intense charitable work he undertook in defense of the persecuted, without any distinction of religion, ethnicity, nationality or political leanings. When, once the city was occupied, he was repeatedly advised to leave the Vatican to safeguard himself, his answer was always the same and decisive: “I will not leave Rome and my place, even at the cost of my life” (cf Summarium, p. 186). His relatives and other witnesses refer furthermore to privations regarding food, heating, clothes and comfort, to which he subjected himself voluntarily in order to share in the extremely trying conditions suffered by the people due to the bombardments and consequences of war (cf A. Tornielli, Pio XII, Un uomo sul trono di Pietro). And how can we forget his Christmas radio message of December 1942? In a voice breaking with emotion he deplored the situation of the “the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline” (AAS, XXXV, 1943, p. 23), a clear reference to the deportation and extermination of the Jews. He 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. His interventions, at the end of the war and at the time of his death, received numerous and unanimous expressions of gratitude from the highest authorities of the Jewish world, such as, for example, the Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir, who wrote: “During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and commiserate with their victims”, ending emotionally: “We mourn a great servant of peace.”


Pius 12 arms.jpgAND


With the Encyclical Mystici Corporis, published on 29 June 1943, while war still raged, he described the spiritual and visible relationships that unite men to the Word Incarnate, and he proposed integrating into this point of view all the principle themes of ecclesiology, offering for the first time a dogmatic and theological synthesis that would provide the basis for the Conciliar Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium.

A few months later, on 20 September 1943, with the Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu he laid down the doctrinal norms for the study of Sacred Scripture, highlighting its importance and role in Christian life. This is a document that bears witness to a great opening to scientific research on the Biblical texts. How can we not remember this Encyclical, during the course of the work of this Synod that has as its own theme “The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church”? It is to the prophetic intuition of Pius XII that we owe the launch of a serious study of the characteristics of ancient historiography, in order to better understand the nature of the sacred books, without weakening or negating their historical value. The deeper study of the “literary genres”, whose intention is to better understand what the sacred author meant, was viewed with a certain suspicion prior to 1943, in part thanks to the abuse that had been made of it. The Encyclical recognized that it could be applied correctly, declaring its use legitimate not only for the study of the Old Testament, but also the New.




Mediator Dei, dedicated to the liturgy, published 20 November 1947. With this document, the Servant of God provided an impulse to the liturgical movement, insisting that “the chief element of divine worship must be interior. For – he writes – we must always live in Christ and give ourselves to Him completely, so that in Him, with Him and through Him the heavenly Father may be duly glorified. The sacred liturgy requires, however, that both of these elements be intimately linked with each another… Otherwise religion clearly amounts to mere formalism, without meaning and without content“.


PXII tomb.jpgMay his memory be eternal!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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