Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pius defenders gathered to answer questions about Pope Pius XII

This is the heading of an article about a gathering Rome.  I have taken it from Catholic News Service.  At this stage I know nothing of the proceedings and cannot make any comment on what was discussed.  I post this article because it is important to attempt to hear all the voices about Pius, even the ones I don't necessarily agree with.  When I learn more about the Rome meeting I will make some considered comments.

I met Andrea Tornielli and Matteo Luigi Napolitano.  Andrea is a delightful and articulate journalist with whom I dicussed a number of issues related to Pius at the Jerusalem symposium in March 2009.  Matteo is likewise very affable and keen to listen to other points of view.  While I do not agree with all their conclusions about Pius, I respect their work as historians. 

I have read Ronald Rychlak's book, "Hitler, the War and the Pope" (2000) and consider it more apologia than history along the lines of other "pro-Pius" writers.   I did not find much that had not been written before and little use of references outside the war years to help understand the mindset of the Vatican.


The article follows:

By Sarah Delaney - Catholic News Service


Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Defenders of Pope Pius XII gathered in Rome to answer a list of questions about his actions in the face of Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe during World War II, an organizer of the event said.

Gary Krupp, founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, a nondenominational organization that seeks to improve interfaith relations, said a panel of five experts on the wartime period met April 26-27. The object of the videotaped meeting was to answer 47 questions about the Catholic Church and World War II that had been posed but never officially answered by a Catholic-Jewish commission disbanded about 10 years ago.

Krupp said the experts enlisted were Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, a top promoter of the canonization cause of Pope Pius; Ronald J. Rychlak, professor of law and associate dean at the University of Mississippi, and the author of two books on Pope Pius' wartime role; Matteo Luigi Napolitano, an Italian associate history professor at the University of Molise and a Pope Pius biographer; Andrea Tornielli, who covers the Vatican for an Italian daily and a Pope Pius biographer; and Michael Hesemann, a German author of several books about the church, including one defending Pope Pius' wartime record.

Krupp, an American Jew, has maintained that Pope Pius has been unfairly judged by Jewish groups and some historians who say that he did not speak out forcefully to try to stop Adolf Hitler's persecution of Jews. Krupp joins many Catholics who say the pope did all he could behind the scenes to try to save Jewish lives and that a direct confrontation would have provoked worse reprisals against Jews.

Krupp supports Pope Pius' sainthood cause. Pope Benedict XVI recently declared the wartime pope venerable, one of the first steps toward sainthood, a move that angered many Jewish groups who say that Pope Pius' role remains ambiguous and that it should be studied before the cause goes further.

The questions addressed by the panel originated with a joint commission of scholars formed in 1999 by the Vatican and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultation to study the issue of Pope Pius and the Jews during the war. After examining published materials for a year, the commission suspended its work amid controversy over access to still-closed Vatican archives from that period. I suggest the journalist could have done a better job with her homework and written a little more accurately about the International Catholic Jewish Historical Commission and their work.  The hyper-link takes you to the report on which this Rome meeting appears to be gathered to answer.  The IHCJC story is worth taking the time to read, if only to experience something of the difficulties confronting historians.

Krupp said he would make the nine hours of recorded material available on DVD and on his foundation's website.

He and four other Jewish figures who had been present during the taping of the panel's discussions spoke briefly with Pope Benedict at the end of the weekly papal audience in St. Peter's Square April 28.

They also met with German Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Krupp said. They discussed an interfaith effort to promote a tradition of families eating together on Friday night, he said. They also expressed their fear of a nuclear Iran and Iran's hostile attitude toward Israel, Krupp said.

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