Pius XII Redeemed

This weekend, I was saddened to read an article in the NY Times by David Gibson, which questioned Pope Pius XII (and other deceased Popes) cause for beatification.

To begin with I am disappointed in Mr. Gibson, who is a Catholic. If Mr. Gibson can’t see the benefit of canonizing some of our recent Pope’s (should the Vatican determine they are deserving of course) he has a very narrow vision of the Church. Saints are chosen because they live lives of heroic virtue dedicated to Jesus Christ and His Church. They are not chosen because they were elected Pope. As Mr. Gibson observes, the Church has canonized less than a third of her Pope’s, which means over two-thirds were not deserving of sainthood. In other the words, the Church can hardly be accused of canonizing every man who has succeeded St. Peter. When the Church does canonize a Pope, we can safely assume that Pope was worthy of being made a saint.

I was also disappointed to see Mr. Gibson repeat the tiresome claim that Pope Pius XII was silent or maybe even complicit in the Nazi’s plan to exterminate the Jews. This argument seems to run contrary to history. Fr. Z of What Does the Prayer Really Say?, has posted two editorials written by the NY Times in 1941 and 1942. Both editorials praise Pope Pius XII for speaking out against the Naz’si and for peace. “The last tiny islands of neutrality are so hemmed in and overshadowed by war and fear that no one but the Pope is still able to speak aloud in the name of the Prince of Peace. This is indeed a measure of the “moral devastation” he describes as the accompaniment of physical ruin and inconceivable human suffering.”

It remains a mystery to me, how a man celebrated by his peers during and after World War II could now be vilified as a man of inaction 60 years later? Which NY Times are we to believe? The editorial pages of 1941/2 or the ones of January 16, 2010?

Update: To anyone who is interested I heartily recommend reading Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the Synagogue of Rome given yesterday. In the speech, Benedict defends the Church’s “hidden and discreet” assistance for the Jews of Rome during World War II.



  • RyanL

    Minor point…

    “the Church has canonized less than a third of her Pope’s, which means over two-thirds were not deserving of sainthood. ”

    I’m afraid this is a non-sequitor. They other 2/3 may all be “deserving of sainthood” — that’s for God to decide. All this says is that the Church has not actively sought to recognize them as such.

    Oh, and there’s an apostrophe in the third sentence that doesn’t belong.




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