Pope Pius XII: December 2009 Archives

Pius and Jewish opinion

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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.

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]yahoo.com.



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This page is a archive of entries in the Pope Pius XII category from December 2009.

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