Book and essay dismantle black legend about Pius XII


Vatican analyst Sandro Magister reported last week the Vatican "has produced two new texts in defense of Pius XII, the most controversial Pope of the 20th century. Both of them are aimed at dismantling the ‘black legend’ about him."

Magister reported that the book "In defense of Pius XII. Historical Arguments," on sale now in Italy, "presents in a more elaborate and extensive form, writings that were published in recent months in the newspaper of the Holy See, L'Osservatore Romano." The book was issued by Marsilio Publishers and was "written by authors who are also of various cultural and religious backgrounds, including two Jews – but all of whom agree in exonerating Pope Eugenio Pacelli."

The authors are Paolo Mieli, a history scholar and director of "Corriere della Sera," the leading secular Italian newspaper; Saul Israel, a biologist and writer who was sheltered in a convent in Rome during the German occupation; Andrea Riccardi, a professor of contemporary history and the author of the 2008 book "L'inverno più lungo, 1943-1944. Pio XII, gli ebrei e i nazisti a Roma [The longest winter, 1953-1944. Pius XII, the Jews, and the Nazis in Rome]"; Archbishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University; Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the pontifical council for culture; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. The volume concludes with Benedict XVI's speech on November 8, 2008, to a conference on "The legacy of Pius XII's magisterium."

The second text that dismantles the black legend is an essay published in the latest edition of "La Civilita Cattolica," "the journal that is examined by the secretariat of state before publication. Its author is Jesuit Fr. Giovanni Sale, a historian who specializes in the 20th century Church. Here as well, the title goes to the heart of the question: ‘The birth of the black legend of Pius XII’."

In the essay, Sale "makes reference to those ‘Catholic-social’ circles which, already during the 1940's, were accusing Pius XII of silent complicity with the Nazi atrocities. And he quotes the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, who at the time was France's ambassador to the Holy See."

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