.- Pope Pius XII was a heroic leader, who kept the Church intact and saved the lives of many with his wise decisions during World War II, says an Italian professor and specialist in religious geopolitics. As the debate rages on in some Jewish and Christian camps about whether the wartime Pope should be beatified, University of Florence professor Pietro De Marco says Pius XII would be “a lofty model of charismatic responsibility and rational rigor” if the Church moved ahead with the beatification.
Critics have accused Pope Pius XII of not having done enough to stop the arrest, torture and extermination of the Jews and others targeted by the Nazis during World War II. The Vatican is expected to begin reviewing documents for the former Pope’s cause for the sainthood this spring.
De Marco, who is also a professor at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy, shares his analysis of Pius’s pontificate in his article “Towards an Evaluation of Pius XII,” published by http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y
Pius XII “did what his conscience told him,” writes De Marco. “And it was the conscience of a pope, [who was] responsible for the universal Church and for the spiritual and, at that moment, even physical health of many,” he underlines.
“From the safety of his position between spiritual guide and head of state, he worked in practical ways for the good of many, and to an enormous extent, I believe,” he writes.
“It was the pope’s impenetrable brilliance and his capacity as a leader that stopped Hitler at the gates of Vatican City,” De Marco states.
The professor speculates that Hitler was probably affected by Pope Pius XII’s “extraordinary degree of political-religious charisma, and by the fear that laying hands on the pontiff would have had a delegitimizing, profaning effect upon him.
“In short, the only foundation and the only arena of political action that remained for Pius XII in the face of Hitler was his person, as the ‘Pope's body,’ and his charisma of authority,” De Marco offers. “He wanted these to remain free and operative, and he kept them so for as long as he could.”
This, De Marco believes, “saved the lives of many.”
De Marco writes that it would be too simple to state that the Pope should have acted and spoken, even at the risk of martyrdom.
“Martyrdom would have been only a liberation from the burdens of office, from the daily exercise of charisma,” De Marco says.
“In Pius XII, therefore, there is manifested the heroism of the one who works under extreme responsibility, in the exceptional situation,” he states. “It is the sanctity of the rock, the marvelous Catholic sanctity that flows from decisive action, and not from homilies.
“The miracle of Pius XII is that of the house built upon the rock (Mt. 7:24), which he kept intact in silence – and by virtue of silence – and which was thereby capable of providing shelter and protection in a place that words would have destroyed,” he concludes.