.- In an article commemorating the 70th anniversary of the election of Pope Pius XII to the See of Peter, the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano recalled his great work during World War II, and his “repeated, untiring words of peace, silently working to save as many lives as humanly possible.”
This “work of peace” of Pius XII that saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews “was recognized at first but later forgotten and even obscured by orchestrated controversies that are historically unfounded,” the newspaper stated in an editorial about Pope Pacelli. Pius XII, the article reminds, was elected on March 2, 1939, after three votes in less than 24 hours.
“In an international situation that was quickly heading towards an abyss opened a pontificate that would reveal itself to be one of the most important of the 20th century. The new Pope, characterized by profound religiosity and recognized even by his most severe critics (…) was most likely the most educated and brilliant exponent of a pontifical diplomacy….”
His closest collaborators at the Secretary of State were the two extraordinary men “Giovanni Battista Montini (years later Paul VI) and Domenico Tardini, whom the Pope named to key posts.”
The editorial penned by Giovanni Maria Vian, the director of LOR, went on to note that having served St. Pius X and Pius XI, Pope Pacelli acquired unique and firsthand experience “about the Church and about international affairs.” The Pope put this experience to work for the sake of the Church, a service that grew until the end of his papacy.
After underscoring his “attention to modernity” and how Paul VI referred to him years later as the “friend of our time,” Vian explained that Pius XII’s mixture “of rigorous theological, juridical and spiritual preparation, … his international openness, … and his attention to modernity allowed Pacelli—in continuity with Pius XI and the Popes that preceded him—to help Catholicism, once the frightening tragedy of the war had been overcome, to confront the transition into a new era.”
For the Church of Rome, this was marked by “the election of John XXIII and later above all by Vatican II.”
Seventy years after the election of Pius XII, the editorial concludes, “it seems necessary to return to a long and balanced consensus on his actions during the war and on the importance of his pontificate, doing justice first to history, even before to a great Pope.”