Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 17, 2008
Pius' contributions too often forgotten – Benedict
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
Excessive attention to Pope Pius XII's role during World War II has overlooked the rich and "precious heritage" he left to the Church and Christians today, Pope Benedict said.
Pope Pius and his teachings represent for the church an "exceptional gift for which we must all be grateful," he said during a Nov. 8 audience with participants of a congress on Pius XII.
The Nov. 6-7 congress commemorated the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius' death.
Pope Pius, who led the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, has been criticized by some Jewish groups who have said he did little to mobilize the Church to defend Jews.
Other experts have gathered evidence to show that he worked quietly but effectively to save the lives of thousands of Jews and others during the Second World War and the Holocaust.
In his Nov. 8 address, Pope Benedict did not mention Pope Pius' canonization cause, which he put on hold late last year.
Instead he praised the late pope's extraordinary intelligence, excellent memory, great fluency in foreign languages, "remarkable sensitivity," his unwavering dedication to God, and his love for Christ, the Church and humanity.
Unfortunately, in recent times, Pope Pius' theological and spiritual contributions have gotten overlooked since almost all attention is focused "excessively on one single problem generally treated in a rather one-sided way," Pope Benedict said, referring to criticism about the pope's wartime role.
Part of Pope Pius' "vast and beneficial" teaching includes his dogma of the Assumption of Mary in 1950 and his more than 40 encyclicals such as Mystici Corporis Christi, which addresses the nature of the Church.
Other landmark encyclicals included those on the Bible -Divino Afflante Spiritu; the liturgy - Mediator Dei; and religious life - Sacra Virginitas, Pope Benedict said.
Pope Pius was interested in new means of mass communication, such as the radio, and its influence on public opinion. The pope added that Pope Pius had said journalists have a duty to provide the truth and respect moral norms.
Pope Pius often praised the enormous achievements of science but "did not fail to warn against the risks that research that (is) not attentive to moral values might entail," Pope Benedict said.
For example, on the occasion of the splitting of the atom, Pope Pius warned with "extraordinary foresight" about "the need to prevent, at all costs, these ingenious scientific advancements from being used for the construction of deadly weapons which would be capable of causing untold catastrophes and even the total destruction of humanity," he said.