VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2009 (VIS)
Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued
the following note concerning the signing of the recent decree on the
heroic virtues of Servant of God Pope Pius XII.
"The Pope's signing of the decree 'on the heroic virtues' of Pius XII
has elicited a certain number of reactions in the Jewish world; perhaps
because the meaning of such a signature is clear in the area of the
Catholic Church and of specialists in the field, but may merit certain
explanation for the larger public, in particular the Jewish public who
are understandably very sensitive to all things concerning the
historical period of World War II and the Holocaust.
"When the Pope signs a decree 'on the heroic virtues' of a Servant of
i.e., of a person for whom a cause for beatification has been introduced
he confirms the positive evaluation already voted by the Congregation
for the Causes of Saints. ... Naturally, such evaluation takes account
of the circumstances in which the person lived, and hence it is
necessary to examine the question from a historical standpoint, but the
evaluation essentially concerns the witness of Christian life that the
person showed (his intense relationship with God and continuous search
for evangelical perfection) ... and not the historical impact of all his
"At the beatification of Pope John XXIII and of Pope Pius IX, John
Paul II said: 'holiness lives in history and no saint has escaped the
limits and conditioning which are part of our human nature. In
beatifying one of her sons, the Church does not celebrate the specific
historical decisions he may have made, but rather points to him as
someone to be imitated and venerated because of his virtues, in praise
of the divine grace which shines resplendently in them'.
"There is, then, no intention in any way to limit discussion
concerning the concrete choices made by Pius XII in the situation in
which he lived.
For her part, the Church affirms that these choices were made with
the pure intention of carrying out the Pontiff's service of exalted and
dramatic responsibility to the best of his abilities. In any case, Pius
XII's attention to and concern for the fate of the Jews
something which is certainly relevant in the evaluation of his virtues
are widely testified and recognised, also by many Jews.
"The field for research and evaluation by historians, working in
their specific area, thus remains open, also for the future. In this
specific case it is comprehensible that there should be a request to
have open access to all possibilities of research on the documents. ...
Yet for the complete opening of the archives
as has been said on a number of occasions in the past
it is necessary to organise and catalogue an enormous mass of
documentation, something which still requires a number of years' work.
"As for the fact that the decree on the heroic virtues of Pope John
Paul II and Pope Pius XII were promulgated on the same day, this does
not mean that from now on the two causes will be 'paired'. They are
completely independent of one another and each will follow its own
course. There is, then, no reason to imagine that any future
beatification will take place together".
"It is, then, clear that the recent signing of the decree is in no
way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to
be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of
dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Rather we trust that
the Pope's forthcoming visit to the Synagogue of Rome will be an
opportunity for the cordial reiteration and reinforcement of ties of
friendship and respect".