Pope Pius XII anniversary

The Church will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII this October 9.  I used the occasion to take a look at the man and his ministry in an article that is the cover story of the latest issue (September/October ’08) of The Catholic Answer.

Pope Pius was a remarkable Pope with many interesting and dramatic aspects to his ministry.  Today, of course, the context in which he’s most often mentioned is the question of how much or how little he did and said to protect the Jewish people during the Holocaust.  That issue has been ably addressed by people like Rabbi David DalinPierre Blet, and Margherita Marchione.

It’s a shame, though, if all that we know about Pius is whether or not we think he did enough for the Jews. 

Pope Pius XII worked very hard in his effort to seek peace during World War II.  (The Nazi invasion of Poland, which initiated World War II, happened 6 months after his election as Pope.)  The central image on his coat of arms, a dove with an olive branch in its beak, was an apt symbol of his pontificate, despite the fact that his efforts were largely ignored by the warring nations.

The other important aspect of his pontificate was his teaching ministry.  Pope Pius published a total of 41 encyclical letters during his 15 years as Pope, several of them of lasting significance.


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