Pius XII

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Pius XII,

1876–1958, pope (1939–58), an Italian named Eugenio Pacelli, b. Rome; successor of Pius XI. Ordained a priest in 1899, he entered the Vatican's secretariat of state. He became (1912) undersecretary of state and, after becoming a bishop, was appointed (1917) nuncio to Bavaria. He stayed in Germany until 1929 and concluded concordats with Bavaria and Prussia. He was made cardinal in 1929 and papal secretary of state in 1930, succeeding his teacher, Cardinal Gasparri. He negotiated the concordat with Nazi Germany in 1933. Elevated to the papacy in 1939, Pius was the first papal secretary to be elected in centuries and the first Roman pope since 1730. In his first encyclical (Summi pontificatus, 1939) Pius made a general attack on totalitarianism. During World War II, however, he believed that the Vatican could best work to achieve peace by maintaining formal relations with all the belligerents. He was later much criticized for not speaking out against the Nazi persecution of the Jews and accused of not doing enough to protect them within Italy. After the war Pius was alarmed by the resurgence of Communism in Italy and fostered the growth of Catholic Action groups to strengthen the Christian Democratic party. In 1949 he excommunicated Italian Catholics who joined the Communist party. In retaliation for the political persecution of the church in Communist Eastern Europe, Pius excommunicated the political leaders of Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Poland. Pius issued his main directives in encyclical form; their subjects included the doctrine of the mystical body of Christ, i.e., the church (Mystici Corporis Christi, 1943); biblical studies (Divino afflante spiritu, 1943); the 14th centenary of St. Benedict (1947) and the liturgy and practices surrounding it (Mediator Dei, 1947); and the future of Africa (Fidei donum, 1957). He continued Pius XI's educational pontifical universities in South America (at Lima, Medellín, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago de Chile), and he favored the appointment of native hierarchies in overseas dioceses. In 1950, in the papal bull Munificentissimus Deus, the pope defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. He reformed (1956) the Holy Week liturgy, relaxed the rules for fasting, and increased the hours during which Mass may be said. Pius had only one secretary of state, Cardinal Luigi Maglione; after his death (1944) the pope acted as his own secretary of state. He was succeeded by John XXIII. Pope Pius was widely venerated during his lifetime, and proceedings for his beatification were begun in 1965.


See his Guide for Living, ed. by M. Guinlan (1960); biographies by K. K. Burton (1958), T. J. Kierman (1958), J. H. L. Smyth (1958), F. J. Coppa (2012), and R. A. Ventresca (2012); C. Falconi, The Silence of Pius XII (tr. 1970); J. Cornwell, Hitler's Pope (1999).

Pius XII

original name Eugenio Pacelli. 1876--1958, Italian ecclesiastic; pope (1939--58): his attitude towards Nazi German anti-Semitism has been a matter of controversy
References in periodicals archive ?
That evidence seriously undercuts arguments that are often offered against Pope Pius XII.
Everything we have found thus far seems to indicate the known negative perception of Pope Pius XII is wrong," the paper quoted Elliot Hershberg, the chairman of the Pave the Way Foundation, as saying.
She was able to do this because Pope Pius XII had ordered that the cloisters be opened so that Jews could be hidden there.
Cavalli asserts that the "campaign against Pope Pius XII is doomed to failure" and that "his detractors cannot sustain their main charges against him with evidence: that he was silent, pro-Nazi, and did little or nothing to help the Jews.
Summary: Once again, the reputation of Pope Pius XII is under scrutiny and attack.
ROME: The Vatican published an article Tuesday defending the Nazi-era pope Pius XII, as a prominent rabbi who made a landmark address to Catholic bishops added his voice to Jewish opposition to his beatification.
In his latest book, Michael Phayer both revisits ground addressed in his earlier work, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965, and expands his scope to consider the role Pope Pius XII may have played in the conflicts of the early cold war era.
So perhaps he will utter a sigh of relief to discover that a new papal biography, The Hound Of Hitler, is actually about his predecessor, Pope Pius XII.
Pope mobile: this cheeky quartet is about to set off in an old Austin taxi (complete with Daily Post bonnet sticker) from Liverpool to Rome via the French Riviera, for an audience with Pope Pius XII, in August, 1956.
Raphael Contoni, a hero of Italy's Jewish Assistance Committee, said that many more Jews would have died had it not been for the intervention of Pope Pius XII.
Rose is the inspirational story reveling the truth behind the myth of "Hitler's Pope" and what actualities grant Pope Pius XII the prestigious role he has taken on as the pope guiding millions of Catholics.
The articles on "The Great Scandal: Christianity's Role in the Rise of the Nazis," by Gregory Paul (FI, October/ November 2003 and December 2003/ January 2004) were brilliant in their focus on the tragedy of Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust.