Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pope Benedict: Pius XII was a great figure

The Charlotte Observer
Associated Press Writer
Posted: Saturday, Nov. 08, 2008

VATICAN CITY Pope Benedict XVI praised Pius XII on Saturday as a great historical figure and implied that excessive attention had been paid to what the wartime pontiff did or did not do to save Jews from the Holocaust.

On Thursday his top aide, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said allegations that the pontiff was largely silent about the Holocaust were "outrageous."

The allegations by some historians and Jewish groups have sharpened as church officials consider whether to continue the process leading to possible sainthood for Pius, whose 1939-1958 papacy spanned World War II.

The Vatican maintains that Pius used quiet diplomacy to save thousands from the Holocaust.

Benedict did not specifically mention the allegations that Pius failed to use his papacy to save more Jews from the Nazi extermination campaign. But his remarks to participants in a seminar about Pius' teachings clearly referred to the sharp criticism of Pius.

"In recent years, when Pius XII is spoken of, attention is concentrated in an excessive way on only one problem, treated, for the most part, in a rather unilateral way," Benedict said Saturday.

"Leaving aside any other consideration, such (attention) has impeded an adequate approach to the figure of great historical-theological depth which Pope Pius XII was," Benedict added.

The pope called his predecessor's church teachings a "precious legacy."

He has said he hoped the process toward possible sainthood could move ahead. But he recently was reported to have said that he would consider freezing the process until the Vatican's wartime archives are opened.


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