Pope Says He Hopes Truth Can Be Made KnownCASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says he hopes the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII this year will offer an occasion to get to the historical truth about him, overcoming prejudices that hide the facts.
The German Pontiff said this today when he spoke to an interreligious foundation that organized a symposium this week to study the life of Pius XII (1876-1958).
The Pope's address to the Pave the Way Foundation and its president, Gary Krupp, thanked the group for aiming to analyze "without bias the events of history and [concern] yourselves only with seeking the truth."
"So much has been written and said of [Pius XII] during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light," the Holy Father noted. "The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favor of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth.
"When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people."
Benedict XVI said the Pave the Way symposium offers the public forum the possibility of knowing better what Pius XII achieved for Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes.
Courageous and paternal
The symposium gathered and presented a large amount of documented material, supported by authoritative testimonies.
"In the proceedings of your convention," the Holy Father noted, "you have also drawn attention to [Pius XII's] many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them."
"It is my great hope that this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of my venerated predecessor's death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice," the Pontiff concluded.
Krupp, himself a Jew, told ZENIT that the results of the symposium were significant. He said that the Pave the Way Foundation feared that misinformation about Pius XII will "never go away" even when the Vatican Archives for the war years are opened.
"We discovered that many messages and orders were verbal and encrypted and since archival researchers seem to believe that if it wasn't written it didn't happen, that any lack of discovered documents would only spawn accusations of intentional document destruction," he said. "This is why we sought out those who are eye witnesses to papal intervention."
In his address to the Pope today, Krupp explained why the foundation took on the project of investigating Pius XII.
"Pave the Way has identified the papacy of Pope Pius XII as a source of friction and misunderstanding," he said. "Accordingly, we have undertaken an independent investigation to identify significant documents and to video-record eye witness testimony. I wish to report to you that results of this investigation [are] stunning, and directly contradict the negative perception of the Pope's wartime activities."
"This year," he continued, "for Catholics, Oct. 9, 2008, will be the commemoration the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII. For Jews that date is also significant as it is our holiest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. May this providential date usher in a new effort to correct the historical record and bring to light the truth of this papacy."