New York City, N.Y., Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - The Pave the Way Foundation has told CNA that the archives of the late Fr. Robert Graham S.J., who was the Vatican's top expert on the wartime role of Pope Pius XII, will add to the evidence showing Pope Pius XII to be “the greatest hero of World War II.”
The Vatican has been collecting evidence of Pope Pius XII’s assistance to Jews in Italy, which will be opened in 2013 when its cataloguing efforts are complete.
However, some Jewish groups have accused Pope Pius XII of not doing enough to stop Nazi persecution of Jews in the Holocaust.
The non-sectarian Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF), based in New York City, will have exclusive access to the documents of Fr. Graham.
On its website the Pave the Way Foundation says it is “dedicated to achieving peace by closing the gap in tolerance, education and the practical relations between religions, through cultural, technological and intellectual exchanges. We strive to eliminate the use of religion as a tool which, historically has been used, by some, to achieve personal agendas and to cause conflicts.”
CNA contacted PTWF for comment and spoke with Gary Krupp, who is president of the Pave the Way Foundation.
Krupp told CNA that Fr. Dennis McManus will head the analysis team, probably in Washington, D.C.
Fr. McManus, a visiting professor of theology and interreligious studies at Georgetown University, is also a Consultant on Jewish Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The research team will first digitize the documents and then assemble them, as they are in disarray. Once the documents are assembled and analyzed, they will be published on the Internet in order “to end this problem between Jews and Catholics,” said Krupp, who is Jewish.
Krupp said the digital version of many of the documents will be available in the Education section of the PTWF website, and that many related documents are already on-line.
However, Fr. Graham's Archive includes 25,000 pages of original documents and testimony never before seen.
According to a summary on the PTWF website written by Fr. McManus, the Graham Archive includes:
“(1) government demarches; (2) media reports; (3) eyewitness accounts, taken either by Graham himself or offered in signed format by others; (4) personal interviews; (5) summaries of books and other studies on the papacy of Pius XII and (6) classified and unclassified military and diplomatic reports from field officers in embassies and chanceries from across Europe.”
The documents studied by the foundation are under the control of the Jesuits. Krupp said the Vatican archives are sealed because canon law requires cataloguing to be completed, though the process has been accelerated by papal order.
However, the archives of the papacy of Pope Pius XI have been completed and contain much information relevant to the work his successor did until 1939.
“Of the critics who have accused Pius XII, nobody has come to the Vatican archives to see what was open until 1939, which represents a great percentage of his public life.”
Krupp said that German historian Michael Hesemann has been investigating the open archives. Each time he enters the archive, Krupp said, he comes out with an “astounding” document about Pius XII fighting anti-Semitism or saving Jewish lives.
“This information is so readily available, but nobody has gone to look,” he said, saying historians and critics of Pius XII’s pontificate do not have to wait for the sealed archives to open when they have “so much material they can look at.”
“That’s the disappointing part.”
Krupp told CNA that PTWF’s purpose is to address non-theological obstacles between religions, and allegations surrounding Pope Pius XII have been “one of greatest obstacles.”
“I put in two years of investigation before deciding to take this project on,” he said. He advised people to go to the archives of the New York Times or the Palestinian Post and search on the keywords “Pope” and “Jews” from 1939 to 1958.
“You will not find one negative article about this man,” he said, speaking of Pius XII. “If he was such an evil ‘Hitler’s Pope,’ you would find so much negativity.
“This man hated Hitler, despised him, and Hitler felt the same way about him.
“A final solution was planned for the Catholics as well as the Jews and the Vatican knew about this, he said, pointing to recent revelations about the Vatican’s plans to set up a papacy-in-exile in Portugal in the event of Pope Pius XII’s detention by the Nazis.
The evidence, he said, was “against every belief that Pius was anti-Semitic” and caused him to change his mind.
“I was angered because I grew up hating him. This discovery was a personal affront to me because I trust historians to report history correctly. When a historian makes a mistake like this, it’s like a moral sin,” Krupp told CNA.
“This man was actually the greatest hero of World War II. He saved more Jews than any other religious leaders combined.
“Even under threat of being kidnapped and killed, he tried to stop the arrest of Roman Jews. He managed to save all Jews of Rome except 1,000. In one day he hid 6,000 Jews, supported and fed them.
“This black legend will end,” Krupp continued, saying the documents would provide a “flood” of new information that will create an “absolute 180 degree turn” in the Pope’s reputation among his detractors.
“There are too many anti-Semites already. We don’t need to invent anti-Semites where none exist.”
Krupp told CNA that the KGB used Rolf Hochhuth’s play The Deputy to smear Pius XII as a silent bystander in the Holocaust. He said one historian has called the play “The greatest character assassination of the twentieth century.”
Vatican City, Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - The Press and Information Office of the Society of Jesus issued a note today denying that their superior had approved the publication of documents from the archives of Fr. Robert Graham S.J. on the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
Yesterday, Gary Krupp, president of the Pave the Way Foundation, told CNA that his research team had been granted access to digitize the documents from Fr. Graham's archives and then organize them. Once the documents are assembled and analyzed, Krupp said, they will be published on the Internet in order "to end this problem between Jews and Catholics."
In addition, several other media outlets, including L'Osservatore Romano, picked up the news published by Catholic News Service that Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, had authorized access to Father Graham’s archives.
However, according to the official statement from the Jesuits, "such authorization has never been given." They explained that "The documents will be cataloged but not published. A possible future publication can only happen after the Holy See opens its archives regarding the pontificate of Pope Pius XII."
According to the statement, "the private collection of Fr. Graham, who died in 1997 and was considered the leading Vatican expert on the role played by the Pontiff during World War II, contains more than 25,000 documents concerning initiatives undertaken by the Pope and the Vatican during that period."
Riverside, Calif., Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - A California man has symbolically “adopted” his wife’s two aborted children as a way to help support her and help her heal from the pain of the abortions.
Fox News reports that Stan and Lisa Musil signed papers on the radio show of host Rich Buhler of KBRT AM 740. Buhler put the Musils in contact with adoption law expert Rod Stoddart, who is also Executive Director of NightLight Christian Adoptions.
"I explained that it's not possible from a legal standpoint, because there's no birth certificate and no child living now to be adopted," Stoddart told FOXNews.com. "But from an emotional standpoint, there's no reason why we could not do an agreement between them where he would adopt those children and give them his name."
He drafted paperwork for the symbolic adoption, and the couple signed it on Buhler’s radio show.
Lisa Musil, 45, said her husband told her “I love you and you are a part of me. Your babies are a part of you, and so that makes them a part of me also.”
She had her first abortion at 19 because she was too frightened to admit her pregnancy to anyone, including her live-in boyfriend at the time.
She said the abortion caused her so much pain that she tried to cover it with “drugs, alcohol, partying, and a promiscuous lifestyle,” she told Buhler.
Her way of life led to her second pregnancy and subsequent abortion just before she was due to serve a jail sentence for drunk driving.
"The world tells me that it was only a blob of tissue, but my heart tells me otherwise," Musil told FOXNews.com by e-mail. "The grief often times was more than I could bear."
She has desired to establish a memorial for post-abortive women to engrave the names of their aborted children to honor their memory.
As the plan came into being, she explained, “I was wondering what last name I would put on this memorial, and my sweet husband asked if we could find some way he could legally adopt my babies and then they could take his name.”
Stan Musil said he filed the symbolic adoption papers on Monday as a way to support his wife.
The memorial is intended to be erected at Pierce Brothers Crestlawn Memorial Park in Riverside, California. It will bear the names that the Musils gave the aborted babies: Alicia Anne Musil and Vincent Matthew Musil.
Stoddart said he had received several requests from other couples who want to perform a symbolic adoption.
Peoria, Ill., Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - The famous Catholic evangelist Archbishop Fulton Sheen's reputation for holiness and his impact on Catholics and non-Catholics alike has led to his cause for beatification being opened. Bill Engelbrecht, a member of the Archbishop Sheen Foundation’s board of directors, told CNA recently that the cause is progressing “quite well.”
The foundation, Engelbrecht explained, is kept informed of the beatification cause’s progress in Rome, and it is “on track.”
“The process is lengthy and it is undetermined. It can take from a few years to a few hundred years. It’s very difficult to actually assess one’s progress,” he said.
Engelbrecht related that several “significant” events had taken place in New Jersey, Texas, and other states. Upcoming events are planned for Georgia, Oklahoma City, and in Peoria, Illinois, Sheen’s birthplace.
“Everything has been moving in the right direction,” he said, adding that the foundation is promoting ways to make Archbishop Sheen better known to clergy and to younger generations, such as mp3 audio files, Facebook, the micro-blogging site Twitter and other new media.
“If you read Archbishop Sheen, he was able to strike a chord with almost every generation from the very young to the very old,” Engelbrecht said. “He was eminently accessible, he was charismatic, people liked him, people listened to him.”
One of his great lessons was about “how to live your life.”
“Obviously that was captured in his program “Life is Worth Living.” That’s a perfect title for what he had to say to us.”
He said that people touched by Archbishop Sheen exist everywhere.
“Go anywhere a large group of Catholics are assembled and bring up Archbishop Sheen. You’ll have somebody say how he affected them, or somebody close to them. He just touched so many people that it’s just amazing. It just repeats itself everywhere you go.”
He noted how one man, a recovering addict and alcoholic, drove nine hours to an Archbishop Sheen Foundation event to tell how one of the archbishop’s books affected him.
“He never met him. Someone by accident asked him to read a book of [Sheen’s]. He believes this man changed his life.”
Asked how Catholics might participate in advancing Archbishop Sheen’s cause, Engelbrecht said there would be a significant event at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City in December.
He encouraged people to expose themselves to Archbishop Sheen’s books and to his writings.
“Simply go to the Archbishop Sheen Foundation website,” he said, explaining that there were opportunities to receive prayer cards, relic cards, information about the beatification process and information about how to support his cause.
The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation’s web site is located at http://www.archbishopsheencause.org/
Rome, Italy, Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - The Italian media published statements Thursday by the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, who said Pope Benedict XVI would publish his third encyclical—this time on social issues—on June 29.
“I believe June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, will be the definitive date” for the publication of the document, the cardinal said during a congress on globalization at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
According to Vatican sources, the encyclical’s title could be “Caritas in veritatis.” It will focus on social changes that have occurred in the world since Paul VI’s encyclical “Populorum Progressio” and since the advent of globalization.
Benedict XVI’s first two encyclicals were “Deus caritas est,” published in 2006, and “Spe salvi,” published in 2007.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - Caritas Buenos Aires has strongly rejected the threats made against Father Jose Maria DiPaola, the pastor of Our Lady of Caacupe and one of the signers of a recent declaration that addressed the city's drug problem.
In the brief statement made public Thursday and signed by Daniel Gassman, the vice president of Caritas Buenos Aires, the organization rejected the threats.
“Caritas and all people of good will who work daily for the poorest of the poor in our city strongly reject all threats of any kind, such as those suffered by our beloved Father Jose Maria DiPaola, pastor of the Our Lady of Caacupe, for his adherence to a statement on drugs issued by a group of priests,” the statement read.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires also spoke out against the drug problems, saying the darkness of drugs “is so powerful that yesterday one of our priests who signed that statement was threatened, and we know that these threats are no joke. We do not know how they will end up,” he said.
Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - The bishops of Venezuela meeting for the Plenary Assembly issued a statement calling on government officials to respect the will of the people and not seek to impose the government's agenda on the country by force.
The bishops lamented that the actions of the government have excluded some sectors of the country from participating in the life of the country and exercising their citizenship. “It is not possible to achieve understanding or have peace in a nation in which the government seeks to impose its agenda for the country by force, especially when such a pretention has been rejected by the voters, as happened in the referendum of December 2, 2007,” they said.
The bishops also pointed out that influential Venezuelans have tried to prevent or undermine the actions of democratically elected officials, thus ignoring the will of the people. Such actions call into question the validity and effectiveness of elections, they said.
The bishops went on to explain that there is growing criticism of the “arbitrary administration of justice in which people are not treated equally before the law as citizens but rather based on their ideological position or political militancy.”
They said it was “unacceptable that due process is not followed for everyone and that different measures are applied according to the person or group in question, that people are condemned without a trial, that sentences are handed down based on arguments that have no direct relation to the accusations and without proof, that disproportionate penalties are imposed for the purpose of political retaliation.”
The bishops said that together all of these situations underscore the increasing blurring of lines between political parties, the government and the state, and they lead to greater division and polarization in the country, putting the democratic system in crisis. “Democracy implies the separation of powers, a plurality of thought and equality for all. Beyond all the discourses, democracy should be characterized, above all, by real interest in the people and in effective and just solutions to daily problems,” they said.
The bishops concluded their statement encouraging all Venezuelans to seek greater understanding and consensus in order to improve their country and to bring about the changes needed, despite the difficulties and limitations.
“Venezuela has a future and we must all take part in building it!” the bishops said.
Washington D.C., Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the “Plan B” contraceptive available to 17 year-old women without a prescription. One pro-life leader has warned the decision treats pregnancy as a “disease” and could put young women and newly-conceived human beings at risk.
The move follows a March 23 federal court order requiring the drug Levonorgestrel—also known as the “morning after pill”--be made available to girls 17 and older without a prescription. The U.S. government said it would not appeal the decision.
The drug aims to prevent pregnancy when used within 24 hours of sexual intercourse.
Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy and Communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, criticized the action in an April 23 statement.
Characterizing the decision as “court-driven,” McQuade said it “flies in the face of common sense.
“Levonorgestrel is a powerful drug, taken in two doses over a 12-hour period. It is 40 times more potent than comparable progestin-only birth control pills (Ovrette) for which a prescription is required.
“Wider access to Plan B could endanger the lives of newly-conceived children, and will put minors at risk for unnecessary side effects, undermine parental rights, and contribute to higher STD rates,” warned McQuade.
“Pregnancy is not a disease and fertility is not a pathological condition, so Plan B has no authentic therapeutic purpose, and can actually cause harm to women and their newly-conceived children,” she said.
McQuade commented that though the FDA describes “Plan B” as a contraceptive drug, the manufacturer admits that it may also prevent an embryo from implanting in the womb.
“Since it takes several days for the growing embryo to reach the uterine lining and implant in the mother’s womb, the child in his or her second week of life could die as a direct result of Plan B. This is properly understood as an early abortion.”
Without a doctor’s supervision, she said, many teens will be unaware of this possible abortifacient action and the other risks posed by the drug, especially when it is used repeatedly.
“Much to the surprise of the morning-after pill’s early advocates, five years of research in Europe and the U.S. shows that increased access to emergency contraception has failed to reduce rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion,” McQuade noted.
She said the drug’s distribution has led to “greater sexual risk-taking” among adolescents, which leads to a higher rate of sexually-transmitted disease.
“In the unlikely event a teenager will bother to read the Plan B package insert all the way to the end, she will find sound advice: ‘Of course, not having sex is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and stay free of STDs,’” McQuade said.
Under President George W. Bush the FDA delayed making any decision on the drug for three years. In 2006 it allowed behind-the-counter sales to those 18 and older who showed proof of age, but still required a prescription for girls 17 and younger.
The manufacturer of “Plan B,” Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc., may also market the drug to women 17 years and older after applying for and receiving approval from the FDA. The manufacturer had earlier sought to secure over-the-counter access for those 16 and older.
Barr was acquired by the Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. in December 2008. Teva said sales of “Plan B” have more than doubled since it became available for adults in 2006.
Madrid, Spain, Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - Beginning today, Gypsies from all over Europe started out on the fifth international pilgrimage to a chapel honoring one of their own, Blessed Ceferino Jimenez Malla. The saintly Cerefino, who is known as “Pele,” was martyred for refusing to deny his devotion to the Rosary.
The Archbishop of Sevilla, Cardinal Carlos Amigo, will preside at the main event which will take place this Sunday, accompanied by Bishop Emeritus Damian Iguacen of Tenerife and Bishop Alfonso Milian of Barbastro-Monzon.
On Saturday there will be a procession, a visit to the museum and crypt of the Missionary Martyrs, a visit to the Shrine of Torreciudad, and at night, a Way of Cross. On Sunday there will be a visit to the cemetery and to the house of Blessed Ceferino. On May 4 the liturgical feast will be commemorated by the bishop of Barbastro-Monzon.
The pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Father Jose Maria Garanto, who is organizing the event, said Blessed Ceferino was a “simple Christian who was also profoundly kind to others.”
Pele’s nephew, Alvaro Gimenez, underscored the human and Christian qualities of his uncle Ceferino: “He gave his life for God and he did it with joy. He showed he was a true saint. My father always told me he was a good person and a good Christian.”
In 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, Pele was detained for defending a priest who was being dragged through the streets of Barbastro and for carrying a rosary in his pocket. He refused to throw away his rosary in exchange for his life and thus embraced martyrdom. On August 8, 1936 he was shot while holding his rosary in his hands and shouting, “Long Live Christ the King.”
Vatican City, Apr 24, 2009 (CNA) - During his homily at a Mass on Thursday for members of the Vatican public security service, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone encouraged them to carry out their duties “with dedication and love, with equity and balance, with a sense of responsibility and concern for the common good.”
Cardinal Bertone stressed that in today’s nihilistic culture which encourages often “illegal and illicit” forms of human behavior, it is necessary that military and police forces also have “a solid faith” in order to “take a position before God.”
According to the L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Bertone denounced the “pressure and conditioning factors in public opinion” that seek to weaken the testimony of Christians, reducing faith to the private sphere. In response to this situation, he said, “There is no lack of authentic testimonies, true martyrs, men and women ready to bear witness, at the expense of their lives, of their fidelity to Christ.”
The cardinal thanked the security officials for their daily service at the Vatican and in St. Peter’s Square, thus facilitating “the encounter between the Pope and numerous pilgrims who arrive from all parts of the world.”