Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - When one approaches the figure of Pius XII "free from ideological prejudices", one must recognize his "courageous and paternal dedication" to saving, wherever possible, the greatest possible number of Jews, which included working "secretly and silently". A congress organized by the Pave the Way Foundation 50 years after the death of Pope Pacelli gave Benedict XVI the opportunity to recall the "historical truth" about Pius XII's efforts to save Jews, which were recognized after the war by many Jewish figures, including 80 delegates of concentration camp survivors.
"So much has been written and said" about Pius XII, the pope noted, over the past five decades, "and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light". "When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices", he continued, "in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also 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".
"Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered", Benedict XVI told those present, "supported by many authoritative testimonies, 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 understands, then, that wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. In the proceedings of your convention you have also drawn attention to his 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 need only recall 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".
Benedict XVI finally expressed the "great hope" that this year "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".