.- The Vicar Emeritus of the Diocese of Rome has penned a personal article about his childhood and adolescence during the pontificate of Pius XII, who he said reached out to the Jews and laid the foundation for the Second Vatican Council.
In the article published by the L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Camilo Ruini recounts his memories of the first Pope he remembers as a youngster, Pius XII, and how as a seminarian he felt a special closeness with the Pope. “The devotion to him and affection for him were an essential aspect of the atmosphere of the school and of our ecclesial and spiritual experience,” he wrote.
Cardinal Ruini went on to address the black legend surrounding Pius XII for supposedly not helping the Jews during World War II. “I can say that during my years as a youth (…) I never heard criticism of the Pope over this issue, only praise and gratitude,” the cardinal said, adding that one of his most vivid memories is “of everything Pius XII did to save the greatest number of Jews possible, while nobody said anything about his ‘silence.’”
For the cardinal, “it was obvious, in the atmosphere and ecclesial praxis of the time,” that if many “priests and religious communities, and the Vatican itself, had taken in and saved many persecuted Jews, that is ... it could not have been done without the encouragement and consent of the Pope.”
Since the concrete conditions of the Nazi occupation were a fresh reality, hypothesizing about the public condemnations that Pius XII could have made was not even on people's minds, Ruini recalled.
“Honestly, at that time the controversy that was to be unleashed not many years later could not have been imagined,” the cardinal said.
Referring later to the theology of Pius XII, who laid the foundation for Vatican Council II, Cardinal Ruini explained that this historical event in the Church “has inspired perspectives that were new, or better yet, more in conformity with the ancient tradition, in order to understand the Service of the Successors of Peter.”
For this reason, the cardinal said, “the Pontificate of Pius XII has a connection to the period which preceded him, which those of us who lived during both periods know by experience, but it also laid the groundwork for new developments, likewise known by experience by those of us who were nourished during our youth by his Magisterium and his testimony of dedication to Christ and care for the human race.”