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Pope Pius XII.

Pius XII , civil: Eugenio Pacelli (Dr. jur., Dr. theol.; born March 2, 1876 in Rome ; † October 9, 1958 in Castelgandolfo ) was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958 . Pope John XXIII referred to Pope Pius XII. as "excellent teacher, light of the holy church, friend of the divine law ("doctor optimus, ecclesiae sanctae lumen, divinae legis amator").


His father Filippo Pacelli, married to Virginia Graziosi, was a lawyer and came from a family of landed gentlemen from Acquapendente, whose members had frequently been in the service of the papacy. Francesco Pacelli, brother of the future Pope, was also a papal advocate and as such played a key role in negotiating the Lateran Pacts of 1929 . (The King of Italy consequently raised him to a hereditary nobility.) After his studies at the Ennio Quirino Visconti State Gymnasium, the Pontifical Gregorian University , the Sant' Apollinare College and the Sapienza State University in Rome, which he completed with a doctorate in philosophy , who graduated in theology and both rights. The priestly ordinationtook place on April 2, 1899 by the vice governor of Rome, Msgr. Francesco Casetta, on the eve of the Pope Leo XIII. proclaimed anniversary year 1900 . He celebrated his First Mass in front of the picture of Maria " Salus Populi Romani " in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome . On February 8, 1901 , Pacelli (now a doctor of law and in 1902 also a doctor of theology) entered the Secretariat of State , which was led by Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro , as an apprendista .
Cardinal Pietro Gasparri elected him in 1904 as secretary of the commission for the drafting of Canon Law ( 1917 ), and the following year he became a member of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. From 1909 to 1914 Pacelli also taught canon law at the papal diplomatic academy. Pope Pius X appointed him under-secretary on March 7, 1911, assistant secretary in 1912 , and on February 1, 1914Secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs (today: the "foreign affairs" section of the State Secretariat).


On April 20, 1917 he was appointed nuncio in Bavaria. The episcopal consecration was donated by Pope Benedict XV. on May 13, 1917 as Archbishop of Sardis in the Sistine Chapel. It was the hour of the apparition of the Queen of the Rosary in Fatima , which strongly shaped the Pope's Marian devotion in later years.
On May 25, 1917, Pacelli arrived in Munich. Associated with his mission was the Holy Father's express mandate to persuade the German government to accept the papal peace mediation proposal in World War I. So the beginning of his public work was in the service of peace. Unfortunately, the efforts he undertook from June to September 1917 failed due to the resistance of the responsible German statesmen.
On June 22, 1920, the nuncio in Bavaria was also, for the first time in history, accredited to the German Reich government in Berlin, where he also moved his official residence on August 18, 1925. Before that, on March 29, 1924, the Concordat had been signed with the Free State of Bavaria. On June 14, 1929, a solemn convention was concluded with Prussia.
On December 15, 1929 Pacelli was promoted by his patron, Pope Pius XI. , elevated to Cardinal with the titular SS. Giovanni e Paolo . On February 7, 1930 , he was appointed Cardinal Secretary of State ( Pope Pius XI's handwritten document appointing the new cardinal as Secretary of State ) and in this capacity helped shape the late years of the Pope. On March 25, 1930, he became Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica . These years were, under the motto Pax Christi in regno Christi, characterized by the difficult confrontation with the totalitarian presumptions in many countries: Church persecutions took place in Mexico, Spain and Russia, but also fascism in Italy and, since 1933 , National Socialism in Germany presented the church with the challenge of naturalistic ideologies that Pius XI . branded as "social modernism". The Reich Concordat , which is still valid today, was also signed in 1933, which regulates, among other things, the appointment of bishops in Germany. Since the condemnation of the Action Française ideology in France in 1926 However, relations with the French Republic became increasingly cooperative. France was the only Catholic country in Europe to remain democratic until 1940 . Pacelli worked for Pius XI. also to constructive relations with the parliamentary governments of the United States and Great Britain. On April 1, 1935 he became Camerlengo of the Roman Church. He knew seven languages ​​(in Pius XII says : p. 406).


After the sudden death of Pope Pius XI. on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Lateran Treaty, Pacelli was elected pope on his 63rd birthday, March 2, 1939 , in one of the shortest conclaves in recent church history by 63 voters in just three ballots. Since Paul III. No election had passed so quickly since Innocent XIII. no more Romans were elected.
Eugenio Pacelli took the papal name Pius XII. on. The coronation took place on March 12, 1939, at that time the feast of Pope Gregory the Great , on the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica. As previously in history only in 1655 and 1667 , the cardinal secretary of state of the predecessor was himself elected pope and joined, also a rarity, directly to the predecessor by name. Since Pius XII. from 1944 to 1952 worked without a cardinal secretary of state and since 1952 two "pro-secretaries of state" (since 1955 only Domenico Tardini) employed without cardinal rank, one certainly does him no injustice when one states that Pius XII. in his self-assessment he "absolutely" remained the successor to his predecessor; his motto was also peace-oriented: Opus iustitiae pax . Already with the inaugural encyclical Summi pontificatus of October 20, 1939 (German (!) in: AAS XXXI (1939), pp. 565-594) Pope Pius condemned the war ; and at the same time any totalitarianism , in it even more clearly than its predecessor already did.
Pius XII turned with energy and tenacity to the manifold problems of the Church in today's world and undertook to ensure a careful introduction of Catholicism to modernity. This intention found expression in the epochal encyclicals of 1943 on ecclesiology ( Mystici corporis ) and on biblical studies ( Divino afflante spiritu ) and in 1947 on liturgy ( Mediator Dei ), which are used today as a preparation for the concepts of the Second Vatican Council (esp. in Lumen gentium or Dei verbum ) have retained lasting importance. So is Pius XII. according to the Holy Scripturesthe most frequently cited source in the documents of Vatican II. They are not just simple references, but should increasingly be understood as a key to interpretation.  Overall, Pius XII. more than 40 encyclicals and developed the social doctrine of the church significantly further in numerous statements, in particular through the approval expressed in 1944 that the democratic form of government in the state was fundamentally preferable to authoritarian concepts. Only 30 years after the outbreak of the First World War , which ruined the monarchical idea of ​​the state, the church gave up its indifference to the constitutions of secular authorityon. However, the idea of ​​universal human rights was first introduced by John XXIII. explicitly taken up, even though Pius XII spoke more intensively than any of his predecessors on all humane and social questions (cf. the " Social Sum of Pius XII. ").
Pius XII had a clear understanding that the faithful, especially the laity , not only belong to the church but are the church . 
Pascalina Lehnert writes in her work (p. 127) that after the death of Pius XII., the writer Rolf Hochhuth wrote a sad caricature of Pius XII. drew, which changed the historical picture of this pope from white to black. It was said that Msgr. Alois Hudal had provided him with the relevant material. Pascalina Lehnert does not know whether this is true.

community of nations

In particular, the teaching of the Pope on the community of nations , which he presented in several radio messages in 1939-45, is of lasting importance . International organizations such as the UN have only partially taken this teaching into account. Here, as so often before, it would have served human progress to heed the words and instructions from Rome more seriously.
In old age, the Pope was haunted by suspicions that the attempt, tailored to his person, to lead the universal claim of Catholicism into the future, would not alone be enough to survive the confrontation with modernity. In 1957 the Pope said to the French philosopher Jean Guitton that he knew he was " the last Pope "; the last link, so to speak, in a long chain of Roman tradition. (As a sponsor of the excavations at Peter's tombbecame Pius XII. buried very close to Peter.) Just like Pius XI. left the urgent questions about the Bible, liturgy and church doctrine, and also the breakthrough to democratic consciousness, in old age to his successor, Pius XII. the question of a reopening of the First Vatican Council, which he had secretly examined but was rejected around 1950 , also passed to his successors.
Compared to the Jesuit Riccardo Lombardi , whose movement the Pope strongly supported in the midst of the inner-Italian struggles (Christian democracy against communists), Pius XII. even said his successor would convene a council.

The Third Reich and the Jews

As a diplomat of Benedict XV. Pacelli had already campaigned in 1915 to condemn anti-Semitic violence that had broken out in Poland, and in the 1930s he was Secretary of State for Pius XI. An end to anti-Jewish radio propaganda by a Catholic priest in the United States, Charles Coughlin. Pacelli had essentially the circular With burning concern of Pius XI. on the situation of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich on March 14, 1937 .

There was a "special subdivision especially for the Jews, because in 1939 Pope Pius XII had decided in the Secretariat of Stateset up an office dedicated only to helping Jews throughout Europe when they appealed to the Pope for help. We have found around 2,800 of these petitions so far, according to the Belgian Vatican archivist Johan Ickx in January 2021. That corresponds to around 4,500 people who have been helped directly or at least tried to. offer any help. Sometimes it was successful, and sometimes it was not possible for the Vatican to provide help. This "was not the fault of the Holy See or the Pope. The blame lay simply with the war situation and the targeted persecution of the Jews by the Nazis in Germany and their allied states."

Pope Pius XII I personally saved at least 15,000 Jews and knew about the Holocaust from an early age. The German historian Michael Feldkamp was able to prove this with findings from the Vatican archives at the end of January 2022. As for the systematic extermination of the European Jews, Pius XII. in March 1942 - two months after the Wannsee Conference - a message to the US President Roosevelt. In it he warned him that something was happening in Europe in the war zones. This news has not been considered credible (but by the Americans).
In May 1939 the proposal of Pope Pius XII. unsuccessful, which he brought to Adolf Hitler through his nuncio to the German Reich, Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo . In it Pius XII. proposed a five-power conference to peacefully resolve impending military conflicts. "Unfortunately, the nuncio met with only superficial interest." With several radio speeches he later tried to call the warring countries to peace. In a very energetic encyclical he wanted the Jews to be persecuteddenounce. But the German bishops feared that such a circular would only increase the persecution of the Jews. Robert Kempner, a Jewish jurist of German origin, wrote in 1964 : Any propagandistic statement by the church against the Hitler government would not only have been a planned suicide, but would have hastened the murder of an even larger number of Jews and priests. Through diplomatic channels, Pius XII stopped. the deportation of the Jews in Romania. Based on Sister Pascalina 's statements , we know that discussions have taken place between the Pope on the one hand and various bishops on the other.

In Holland, where the bishops openly opposed the persecution of the Jews at the time, it turned out that even the Jews who had previously been spared and who had become Catholics were deported out of revenge (a "retaliatory strike" against 4,000 Dutch Jews). Among other things, Edith Stein , the famous Jewish convert who had converted to the Catholic faith, was taken out of a Dutch Carmel and deported to the concentration camp in Auschwitz . In November 1943 Pius XII failed. with Adolf Hitler in an attempt to intervene diplomatically on behalf of Jews. Also in 1943, the Pope had two letters written asking for help for Jewish families. Of theVatican has tried in various ways to help the oppressed Jews.
According to the famous representative of Judaism, Pinchas Lapide , the Pope, together with the Church, saved the lives of at least 700,000 Jews (directly and indirectly over 850,000 Jews). Many Jews were hidden in the cellars and rooms of the Vatican and in Castel Gandolfo . The German rulers knew this, but did not dare to conquer the Vatican to get the Jews out. Even if the criticism will hardly be silenced: These facts show that the hypothesis - Pius XII did too little for the Jews - lacks the basis.
Already on his journey to Jerusalem in January 1964 Paul VI defended . his predecessor and supporter in this regard. DDr. Peter Egger writes:
"Although his worldly means and his power were modest, he helped where he could during this time. At his personal instigation, thousands of Jews were hidden in monasteries and church institutions and thus saved from annihilation (85% of the 8000-strong Jewish community Rome in 155 Roman monasteries [namely 4238 Jews], in the Vatican [477 Jews] and on the papal estate of Castelgandolfo [approx. 3000]).  He personally granted asylum to the Roman Chief Rabbi Eugen Maria Israel Zolli Charity impressed the rabbi so deeply that he converted to the Catholic faith and chose the name of Pope Eugenio as his baptismal name."

In 2009 , an important document on Pope Pius XII was discovered in the Roman monastery of the Augustinian nuns of "Santi Quattro Coronati" near the Lateran . on.  The note from November 1943 lists 24 people persecuted by the Nazi regime; these should be saved at the request of the Pope. That is why the Holy Father ordered "to grant these persecuted people hospitality in the monasteries". Many or all of the individuals on the list appear to have been Jews.
Other rescue operations did not only take place on Pacelli's instructions, but were financed by him - for example, he had a ship chartered to bring 500 Jewish refugees from Lisbon to the Dominican Republic every six months because dictator Trujillo was willing to give the local Nuncio to issue the same number of visas. Around 10,000 Jews were saved on this route alone. In Istanbul, Nuncio Roncalli coordinated the chartering of ships and the transport of Jewish refugees from Romania to Palestine. In 1954 Giuseppe Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII.: "In all these terrible things I turned to the Holy See, and later I simply carried out the instructions of the Pope: first and foremost to save human lives." Margarete Sommer, who, together with Prelate Bernhard Lichtenberg , headed the relief organization of the Episcopal Ordinariate in Berlin, wrote on March 23, 1963 : "All actions in Berlin that were carried out and planned by the Episcopal Ordinariate to rescue, preserve and protect people who were persecuted because of their race , (took place) in conjunction with the Vatican (and) with the express approval and direction of Pius XII."
During the war years, the Catholic Church developed a work of love towards all people without exception, in that Pius XII. set up a Vatican information office for the prisoners of war after the beginning of the war, which eventually contained three and a half million documents. This archive, which was open until 1947 , is almost unused. The Osservatore Romano writes that an archive may be loudly demanded to be opened, so that the documents contained therein are then neglected (cf. work by Pascalina Lehnert ).

On the occasion of the first visit to Rome after the war, Cardinal Josef Frings said how terribly the Holy Father suffered - because, as prudence dictated, so as not to conjure up even greater misery on the victims of Hitler - he had to remain silent again and again. Clemens August Graf von Galen reported ( PL p. 150f) that Pius XII. recited passages from his sermons against National Socialism to him in a private audience. "Yes," said the "Lion of Munster" to the Pope: "but like many of my best priests, because they spread my sermons, I went to concentration camps, yes, to deathprepared!" To this Pius XII replied that the terrible certainty that vengeance was being taken on thousands often compelled him too to remain silent.
Beginning in the war years, culminating in 1963 , attempts were made to persuade Pius XII. portray as Hitler -friendly. Giovanni Spadolini already denounced the fact that this was an organized campaign in Italy in 1965 . Misrepresenting the facts in public in order to discredit Pope Pius XII. damage, on the one hand to avert a possible beatification, but above all to sow discord between Jews and Christians, was increasingly undertaken at the beginning of the 21st century . Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes in 2008 called these people "post-born know-it-alls", and Fr. Eberhard von Gemmingen SJ considers the discussion to be "naive" since many Jews expressed gratitude in the first twenty years after the Second World War.
A lecture by the archivist of the Vatican Secretariat of State Johan Ickx at the conference "Refugee Policies from 1933 until Today: Challenges and Responsibilities" on February 17, 2017 in Rome shows that Pope Pius XII. nearly 5,000 Jews found shelter in 280 monasteries, 3,000 in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, 1,460 in private Catholic homes, 60 in buildings on extraterritorial land, and 40 in the Vatican. The figures came from the files of the Vatican archives. According to Ickx, an October 1943 agreement with the Nazis gave Vatican buildings neutral status. The archivist also pointed out that the Vatican had already helped three million refugees during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

The miracle of the sun

A miracle of the sun - similar to that of Fatima - experienced Pope Pius XII. possibly October 31, 1950 , the day before the dogma of the Assumption of Mary was proclaimed . As usual at 4 p.m., the Pope went for a walk in the Vatican Gardens. The sky was slightly cloudy, and Pius XII. suddenly saw the sun emerging from between the clouds, blazing with colors. Then she started spinning and started dancing over the horizon. A happy spectacle for the Holy Father, who could see in it a heavenly confirmation for the proclamation of the Marian dogma , especially since this phenomenon happened on the day of the dogma 's proclamationof the assumption of Mary into heaven. The pope only reported this event to a few confidants and a few cardinals. Among them Cardinal Federico Tedeschini , who publicly announced this process a year later, on October 13, 1951 , the 34th commemoration of the Great Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, to the pilgrims at the Portuguese sanctuary: "The vision of the dancing sun appeared before the eyes of the saint father's last year in the Vatican Gardens." 
The Pope's housekeeper for many years, Sister Pascalina Lehnert , also confirmed in her memoirs the great event in the Vatican Gardens (cf. Fatima rufe , 3/2008, no. 202; cf. also Johannes Maria Höcht , Fatima and Pius XII., p . 291 ff; 312 ff).

the last few years

On November 1, 1950 , in the Jubilee Year that drew more than 3 million pilgrims to Rome, the Pope proclaimed the definition of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, into the heavenly glory of Christ . This dogma marks not only the only application of the claim of papal infallibility ex cathedra since 1870 (previously only Pius IX had defined the Immaculata in 1854 ), but the actual "Word in the time", answer to an all too superficial humanism , which the last things passed with silence.
Pope Pius XII died on October 9, 1958 , after more than four years of illness, which paralyzed his creativity (and thus the entire curia), in Castelgandolfo , the papal summer residence, which he had used more and more extensively. Cardinal Domenico Tardini said of Pius XII, "I have never met a more humble man in my life" (cf. ( Pascalina Lehnert ).

beatification process

On November 8, 1965 Paul VI. the process of beatification initiated. In 1990, John Paul II raised Pius XII. to the servant of God. [14] In February 2008 , the now emeritus prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints , Cardinal José Saraiva Martins , affirmed that the beatification process for Pope Pius XII. has not been shelved, but is progressing. Relator in the beatification process of Pius XII. is the well-known historian Professor P. Peter Gumpel (* 1923 ). On December 19, 2009 , PopeBenedict XVI the heroic virtue Pius XII. accepted. 
Pope Francis ordered on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the election of Pius XII. to the Pope on March 4, 2019, that as of March 2, 2020, researchers will have access to documents in the Vatican Secret Archives relating to the pontificate of Pius XII. relate.

Important texts and decisions

October 20, 1939 : Inaugural encyclical Summi pontificatus on the misery and errors of our time and their overcoming in Christ .
October 31, 1942 : World Consecration Regina del santissimo rosario in the radio address to the Portuguese people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (this he calls his most important decision)
June 29, 1943 : Encyclical Mystici corporis on the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church).
September 30, 1943 : Encyclical Divino afflante spiritu on the inerrancy of the Bible ( DH 3825 ff).
2 June 1945 Speech on National Socialism .
February 2nd, 1947 : Apostolic Constitution Provida mater ecclesia establishing Secular Institutes.
November 20, 1947 : Encyclical Mediator Dei on the liturgy (DH 3840 ff).
November 30, 1947 : Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis on the Order of Holy Orders (DH 3857 ff); the consecration of bishops, not just deacons and priests, has a sacramental character.
September 27, 1948 : Apostolic Constitution Bis saeculari - on Marian Congregations.
August 12, 1950 : Encyclical Humani generis against views that threaten to undermine the foundations of Christian doctrine (DH 3875 ff).
1 November 1950 : Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus , defining the dogma of Mary's bodily assumption into heaven (DH 3900 ff).
March 25, 1954 : Encyclical Sacra virginitas on Holy Virginity
Letters of Pope Pius XII.
Addresses of Pope Pius XII published in the AAS
Speeches on basic questions of medical ethics
Speeches to the newlyweds of Pius XII.

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