11 October 2008

Pius XII up for beatification

Read it while perusing Der Spiegel yesterday.

Go ahead and read the article. It's in English.

Some of the regular readers (who have probably dropped off after I had pretty much fallen off the blogging scene) are probably wondering "what's with all the foreign newspapers?"

I can read them (along with Spanish and French...working on Dutch this winter), and sometimes you get a different perspective than what is found in the US media.

Take Sarah Palin's nomination as VP running mate, for example. I went through several Norwegian, German, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, and French online newspapers a good part of that day. Whereas the U.S. leftist propaganda machine was pretty quick to try to find dirt on something that took attention from their anointed one

Most of the European press looked on with what I would describe as "positive curiosity." Interestingly enough, as much as our propaganda machine likes to look at "world opinion," they didn't seem all that hot on sharing in the relatively positive attitude the Euro newspapers I looked at had.

But anyway, getting back to the story at hand...

Pius XII was the Pope during WWII. He is currently up for "beatification," which is the Catholics' way of putting someone on the track toward sainthood.

I'm not all that familiar with the process, and my own theological proclivities find it to be something of a waste of time and energy, but regardless of which side of the confessional fence you stand on, beatification pretty much points out a Catholic personality of note.

Whether or not you were a Jew during this time, "note" might bear some pretty negative connotations. A fair amount of people are not terribly thrilled with Benedict XVI's motion to go on with the beatification process, partially out of speculation that Pius XII (né Eugenio Pacelli) did not do nearly enough to help save persecuted Jews during the Holocaust.

My interest in this matter comes from the research I did on the topic of the Churches during the Holocaust when I was in grad school. By virtue of that research, I'm something of an expert on the topic.

Those of you interested in reading my master's thesis can email me or find it yourself at UT's library or obtain it through interlibrary loan. Here's the pertinent information:

Hatfield, Jeremy Todd, 1969-
An overview of the two faces of the church in German Holocaust literature : passivity and opposition / Jeremy Todd Hatfield.
vi, 66 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.

Call number Thesis95.H38

The conclusions that I drew from the Vaticans' dealings during this time are mixed--on the one hand, the Church was very much interested in its own survival, and did factor in the Nazis in consideration of the rise of Communism that was also going on at the time. In this, it limited itself in official, high-profile actions against the Nazis.

On the other hand, there were a handful of notable priests, f. eks. von Galen, Lichtenberg (ditto on his beatification in 1996), and Maximilian Kolbe (canonized in 1982), who did not just stand idly by, but largely acted outside the Church's directives in its dealings with the Nazis.

Despite this, von Galen was beatified in 2005; Lichtenberg in 1996. Kolbe was canonized in 1982. Despite my views on Catholic sainthood, I can stand behind the elections of these individuals to there revered statuses. But Pacelli himself? That's a hard call to make, especially having the luxury of looking back 60 years after the fact.

Anyway, it pushed my history button, and I wound up buying two books on Half.com. One was "Hitler's Pope," and the other a rebutting work called "The Myth of Hitler's Pope." I'll reserve judgement until I have read both of these.

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