Pope Pius XII, has drawn the interest and scrutiny of many people over the last few decades, but as Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the Pave the Way Foundation at Castel Gandolfo today, he highlighted that previous investigation into the late Pope’s efforts to save Jews from the Nazis and fascists have been biased.
Around noon today at the Pope’s summer residence, he received Mr. Gary Krupp, the president of the Pave the Way Foundation and other members of the organization.
Mr. Krupp and his wife, who are Jewish, founded Pave the Way to fight against religious intolerance and prejudice through educational, cultural and technological means. As part of those efforts, Pave the Way organized a symposium to conduct an in-depth investigation into Pius XII’s life and his pastoral and humanitarian work.
Noting that 50 years have passed since the October 9, 1958 death of the Servant of God Pius XII, the Holy Father pointed out that although "so much has been written and said of him during these last five decades, ... not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light.”
The symposium aimed to address some of these deficiencies by “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,” the Pope said.
"When one draws close to this noble Pope,” observed Benedict XVI, “one can 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.”
Pope Benedict then went on to thank the foundation for “the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies,” because, as he explained “your symposium offers to the public forum the possibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes.”
One of the many aspects of the symposium that Pope Benedict praised was how the foundation’s work “had drawn attention to Pope Pius' 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."
One special event that Benedict XVI recalled, “Pius XII’s meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.”
Pope Benedict thanked the Pave the Way Foundation "for its ongoing activity in promoting relationships and dialogue between religions, as witnesses of peace, charity and reconciliation.
"It is my great hope," he concluded, "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.”