19 febbraio 2010

Barcelona Invites Pope to Consecrate Gaudí Church

Cardinal Notes Benedict XVI's Appreciation for Art

BARCELONA, Spain, FEB. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Barcelona is affirming that Benedict XVI expressed interest in an invitation to consecrate the Sagrada Familia Church in that city, though he has not yet confirmed.

The church, designed by Antoni Gaudí, has been under construction since 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026.

However, this September, a portion of the building's completed interior is set to be opened for worship and tours.

Barcelona's archbishop, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, invited the Pope to consecrate the church before it is opened for use.

He reported this Wednesday in a press conference at his episcopal palace, which was held for the beatification of Venerable José Tous y Soler, a Capuchin priest and founder who died in 1871 in Barcelona.

The cardinal stated that "the Holy Father was interested in the invitation because of what the Sagrada Familia is and signifies as a church of the universal genius of architect Antoni Gaudí, whose cause of canonization is under way."

He added that this church, named after the Holy Family, also has special significance "given the extreme importance the family has for the Holy Father, since the good of persons, of society and of the Church are directly related to the protection, defense and promotion of the family."

The Sagrada Familia is a religious monument which has been declared patrimony of humanity. It draws some 3 million visitors every year.

The archbishop of Barcelona clarified that "there is still no confirmation of this trip of the Pope to Barcelona to dedicate or consecrate the Sagrada Familia, as it depends on the Holy Father's calendar of trips."

The cardinal noted that the Pontiff "gives much importance to art, to beauty as a way to God."

He recalled, for example, Benedict XVI's Nov. 21 meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel, and his address to them that was "very rich in content and very affectionate."

Cardinal Martínez Sistach noted that the Pope affirmed on that occasion that "artists speak to humanity's heart." He asked them to be, through their art, "witnesses and heralds of hope for humanity."

17 febbraio 2010

Blair Saw Catholic Ban as "Ridiculous"

Comments on Requirement for UK Envoy to Holy See

LONDON, FEB. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Tony Blair overturned British government policy to ban Catholics from representing the nation to the Holy See because he considered the ban "the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard."

This is what the former prime minister -- now himself a Catholic -- reveals on a documentary to be aired Wednesday by the BBC Northern Ireland.

In the documentary, titled "Our Man in the Vatican," Blair recounts his surprise at learning in 2005 of the policy, when the ambassador post became vacant.

"I said, 'It's the Vatican, the Pope, he's a Catholic. You mean we actually as a matter of policy ... say you can't have a Catholic?' I said, 'What is this? It's the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard,'" Blair said, as reported by the BBC.

"Can you imagine we say for years and years and years the one category of person we shouldn't have as ambassador to the Holy See is someone who shares their faith?" he added. "I don't think that is very sensible -- not in this day.

"Quite apart from being discriminatory, how stupid is it?"

Formal diplomatic links between England and the Holy See were first established in 1479; in fact, the ambassador position before the Holy See is the oldest in the United Kingdom's diplomatic service.

However, when England's relationship with the Vatican went sour under Henry VIII, ties were broken and were not restored until 1914.


The BBC noted how in 1917, a Foreign Office memorandum stated Britain's Holy See representative "should not be filled with unreasoning awe of the Pope."

The Blair administration's selection of Francis Campbell, still the British ambassador, finally broke that trend.

Now, the embassy is considered a "vital part of the UK’s overseas network," as explained on the embassy's site. "The mission works jointly with the Holy See on international development, interfaith and climate change. But those examples are replicated many times over in ecumenism, conflict prevention, disarmament and human rights, not to mention the value of the Holy See as a global listening post.

"In an era when religion has once more emerged in international relations, the Vatican is key to the continuing policy debate on the proper boundary between faith and politics. The Vatican is a key stabilizing influence in the global faith/politics debate and helps keep discussion rational."

Faith and politics

Campbell's role as ambassador will be unique this year as he prepares for Benedict XVI's trip to Great Britain in September.

The Holy Father already caused a stir in England when he told the nation's bishops Feb. 1 that some legislation designed to protect equality imposes "unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs," and sometimes "actually violates the natural law."

British government is considering the Equality Bill, defended as protection from discrimination due to sex or sexual orientation.

Critics caution that it could restrict the Church from selecting staff or even priests who live according to Church teaching and morality.


New Prague Bishop Endured Communist Prison

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, FEB. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A bishop who was forced to work in a factory instead of as a priest, and who endured time in a Communist prison, has been named the archbishop of Prague.

Bishop Dominik Duka of Hradec Kralove, 66, succeeds Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, 77, who has retired for reasons of age.

Dominik Duka was born in 1943. He entered the Dominican Order, making his temporary profession in 1969, and receiving priestly ordination the next year.

For five years he worked in several parishes in Prague, and made his perpetual vows in 1972.

Three years later, he was deprived of authorization to exercise his priestly ministry, and was forced to work in a car factory in Plzen for almost 15 years (until 1989).

Meanwhile, he worked in secret within his congregation as master of novices and professor of theology.

He was imprisoned in Plzen between 1981 and 1982, according to the biography issued by the Vatican press office.

After the fall of Communism, he was elected president of the Federal Conference of Major Superiors and, from 1992 to 1996 was vice-president of the Union of European Conferences of Major Superiors.

From 1990 to 1999 he was a professor in the faculty of theology of Palacky University in Olomouc. On June 6, 1998, Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of Hradec Kralove.

Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-28359?l=english

15 febbraio 2010

Vatican Secret Archives Documents Going Online

Pave the Way Foundation Proposal Approved

By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is planning to publish on the Internet, free of charge, several documents from the Vatican Secret Archives in relation to World War II.

The initiatives is partially in response to a petition from Pave the Way Foundation, an organization dedicated to bridging gaps between religions.

The foundation proposed making digital files of, and later publicizing, some 5125 descriptions and copies of documents from the closed section of the Vatican archives, from the period of March 1939 to May 1945.

Gary Krupp, the foundation's president and founder, told ZENIT that "the 'Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs a la Seconde Guerre Mondiale [Acts and Documents of the Holy See relative to the Second World War],'" which were "previously published and mostly ignored," will "shortly be available for worldwide scrutiny and study online, free of charge."

He explained that these documents will be available on the Web site of his foundation as well as that of the Vatican.

This project is part of the mission of the foundation, a non-sectarian organization that works to remove obstacles between religions, foster cooperation and to end the misuse of religion for private agendas.

The organization's president, who is from New York but of Jewish decent, stated, "In the furtherance of our mission we have recognized the papacy of the war time Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) as a source of friction impacting over one billion people."

A plot

"Controversy abounds on whether he did enough to prevent the slaughter of Jews at the hands of the Nazis," Krupp affirmed.

He continued: "Our research has revealed that five years after Pius XII's death, the KGB hatched a plot to discredit their enemy, the Roman Catholic Church, called 'Seat 12.'

"A dirty trick, which condemned Pope Pius XII for his 'silence' during the Holocaust in the form of Rolf Hochhuth's fictitious 1963 play 'The Deputy.' The result was the worst character assassination of the twentieth century."

Based on his foundation's research, Krupp stated that in 1964, Pope Paul VI asked a team of three Jesuit historians, Father Pierre Blet, Father Burkhart Schneider, and Father Angelo Martini, to "conduct intensive research to identify relevant documents from the war years from the closed section of the Vatican Secret Archives."

He added: "A few years later Father Robert Graham joined the group. The first volume was published in 1965, the last in 1981."

Krupp explained that in 1999, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, at that time the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, called for a special commission of Jewish and Catholic scholars to come together to study these documents.

"This positive advance unfortunately ended July 21, 2001 in failure," he added, "partly because the scholars simply did not read the languages of the collection."

"They issued a list of 47 questions and demanded the opening of the yet un-catalogued archives" from the 1939-1958 period, the foundation president said.

He stated that his foundation "sought to gain permission to digitize this collection, making it broadly available for study" so as to further "our mission to publicly disclose as many documents as possible to help to move this obstacle between Jews and Catholics into the light of documented truth."

Black legend

Krupp explained that "this effort is simply to show clear evidence of Pope Pius XII's efforts to mitigate suffering during the war and that the 'black legend,' which besmirched his name, is simply not true."

He added that this initiative is "not meant to be a substitute for the full access" to the archives, "but will absolutely show the unique efforts of Pope Pius XII and the dangers he was forced to operate under a direct threat from the Nazi regime."

"Ironically," he said "the Vatican Secret Archives [from the period prior] to 1939 were opened over two years ago," and they showed that "65% of Pacelli's ministry has simply been ignored by the critics who call for the war years to be opened."

On behalf of the foundation, the president expressed gratitude to the Pope's Secretary of State and the Libreria Editrice Vaticana "for their confidence in us by allowing us this unprecedented privilege."

He continued: "We sincerely hope that international historians will carefully scrutinize these records. We expect the digitization process of over 9000 pages will take about four weeks to complete [at which time] we will announce their posting on Internet."

In the meantime, the foundation already has thousands of documents and eyewitness videos available on their Web site for study.

Krupp concluded by requesting that "French, Italian and German scholars consider helping us by translating documents into English and forward this work to Pave the Way Foundation so that we can make the information available to more scholars for research."

He added, "We also would like to receive any comments, positive or negative, relative to the content of these documents."

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Pave the Way Foundation: http://www.ptwf.org

12 febbraio 2010

The BBC and Anti-Catholic Bias

Director Mark Thompson Defends Its "Rounded" Approach

By Edward Pentin

ROME, FEB. 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is not known to be one of the Catholic Church's closest friends.

Although it has a worldwide reputation for high quality programming, the vast state-funded broadcaster has often been accused of treating the Church and the Catholic faith unfairly at best, and maliciously at worst.

Many examples back up this accusation, beginning with a number programmes over the past 10 years that have been blasphemous and highly offensive to Catholics.

In 2003, the BBC broadcast -- to a large international audience -- a documentary entitled "Sex and the Holy City," which intentionally misrepresented the Church and its teaching on condoms and AIDS. Two years later, it aired "Jerry Springer the Opera," a blasphemous and very offensive programme that ridiculed Jesus and the faith in general. Earlier, the BBC had spent £2 million ($3.13 million) on a program called "Popetown" -- an animated series set in the Vatican that mocked the Church and included plotlines about bestiality. Due to protests, it was banned in Britain but broadcast overseas and sold in Britain on DVD.

The BBC has also been accused of failing in other areas when it comes to Catholicism. The persecution of Catholics in the Middle East or Asia is rarely covered or warranted adequate attention; the immense good work that Catholic priests, religious and laity do around the world is generally passed over; and the Church's invaluable contribution to Western culture tends to be disparaged in favour of focusing on the sins of Church members in the past.

The BBC has also been blamed for more subtle instances of anti-Catholic bias. Discussion panels, news reports and web articles tend to focus on the sensational; they also often comprise contributions from secular figures or dissenting Catholics but hardly ever from orthodox Catholics who will properly convey the Church's teaching.

The corporation's treatment of clergy not infrequently involves interrogations by disparaging and dismissive presenters who seem to view them as guilty until proven innocent. Stephen Glover, a non-Catholic British newspaper columnist, wrote how a BBC television interviewer, quizzing English Archbishop Vincent Nichols in 2007, "treated him like a member of some extreme sect, interrupting him continually, and sneering at him as though he were a half-wit."


Most of this bias is attributed to a predominantly secular mindset in the corporation that embraces, or is sympathetic to, the culture of death, whether it be abortion, radical feminism, the homosexual agenda, euthanasia, or unethical science such as embryonic stem cell research. "The BBC," Glover once wrote, "represents a materialist, mechanistic consensus which has rejected God, and deludes itself that science is capable of providing a complete explanation of existence."

Even one of the BBC's most accomplished journalists, Andrew Marr, admitted the difficulty the corporation has in offering unbiased coverage. "The BBC is not impartial or neutral," he told a secret summit of BBC executives in 2006. "It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias."

At that same meeting, one veteran BBC executive was reported in the British press as saying there was "widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness" and that much of this mentality is "so deeply embedded in the BBC's culture, that it is very hard to change it." It was also reported that "nearly everyone" at the summit agreed the Bible could be thrown into the bin on a comedy show, but not the Koran for fear of offending Muslims.


The BBC's managers are, of course, quick to publicly reject most allegations of anti-Catholic bias. Last week, Mark Thompson, the corporation's director-general -- essentially its editor-in-chief -- gave a speech at Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross on the theme "Broadcasting and Civil Society." Disappointingly and perhaps revealingly his speech didn't specifically mention religion at all but rather focused on how well the BBC is performing as an independent state broadcaster, and how a forthcoming review promises to deliver better quality programmes.

But during the question and answer session afterward, he admitted some anti-Catholic bias "may be the case" in relation to news coverage, although as far as the corporation's religious broadcasting was concerned, he said the BBC tries and generally succeeds in giving "a rounded picture."

He then gave examples of BBC documentaries and live coverage of the Church, from the funeral of Cardinal Basil Hume, the former archbishop of Westminster, to the exposition in Britain of the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux. Asked if he believed the BBC tends to favour an ideology at odds with the Church's teaching, he replied: "No, I really don't," and recalled another programme, this time on the Passion shown at Easter in 2008.

Mother's advice

This wasn't the first time he'd had to confront such criticism. Speaking on the theme of religious broadcasting at a London lecture in 2008, Thompson, who is a Catholic, recalled how his mother shook her head when told her son had been appointed director-general. "The BBC is anti-Catholic and anti-God," she told him in no uncertain terms.

But such anti-God labels, he explained to the audience in London, were "not just too sweeping; they are not even directionally true." He said that naturally, inside the BBC are many people "who take a strongly sceptical view of religion," but you'd also find "thousands of people for whom religion plays a central role in their lives." He accepted that coverage of religion as "faith and lived experience" rather than as a story or controversy was "unusual" but noted there is more interest in "high profile" religious affairs programming than there was 25 years ago.

And yet on his watch, BBC television coverage of religious affairs has fallen, from 177 hours in 1987-88 to 155 hours in 2007-08. This week the Church of England's governing body, the General Synod, is debating whether the BBC marginalises Christianity, treating it like a "freak show" or a "rare species" to be studied on a nature programme.


At last week's lecture, Thompson said he didn't address religion specifically because he didn't want to put it into a special category, preferring instead to include religion in his comments on history, knowledge and culture. Yet such a vision risks sidelining it further, and is perhaps one reason why the BBC rarely airs programmes aimed at a particular faith but instead lumps them together into a relativist muddle.

As one priest asked after hearing Thompson's speech: Why not have programmes dedicated to each religion, for example one made up of a group of Catholic theologians discussing the role of works in justification, or another of Muslim scholars debating the interpretation of the Koran?

Speaking with Thompson later on, he appeared open to having an honest dialogue with the Church and to listening to ideas on how to improve coverage. The main purpose of his visit was to meet the Holy Father and Vatican officials to discuss the Pope's visit to Britain later this year.

A hopeful sign, though how genuinely serious BBC management takes the Church remains very much open to doubt.

Should any reader wish to propose ideas to Mark Thompson on how to improve coverage of the Church on the BBC, e-mail me and I'll send you details on how you can drop him a line.

11 febbraio 2010

Chilean Maternal Mortality Study Undercuts Pro-Abortion Claims

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D. and Piero A. Tozzi, J.D.

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) Preliminary findings by a prominent biomedical researcher examining the dramatic decrease in maternal mortality, over the past fifty years in the Latin American nation of Chile, appear to undercut claims by global abortion lobbyists that liberal abortion laws are necessary to reduce maternal mortality rates.

According Dr. Elard Koch, an epidemiologist on the faculty of medicine at the University of Chile, Chile's promotion of "safe pregnancy" measures such as "prenatal detection" and accessibility to professional birth attendants in a hospital setting are primarily responsible for the decrease in maternal mortality. The maternal mortality rate declined from 275 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1960 to 18.7 deaths in 2000, the largest reduction in any Latin country.

Because Chile is a nation that protects unborn life in its penal laws and constitution, the decline is therefore not attributable to access to legal abortion. In fact, the preliminary study shows, maternal mortality in Chile declined over the last century regardless of whether abortion was legal or illegal. Chile tightened its restrictions on abortion in the late 1980s.

According to Dr. Koch, "From 1960 onwards, there has been a breakthrough in the public health system and primary care" in Chile, with resources devoted to the development of "highly trained personnel, the construction of many primary health centers and the increase of schooling of the population.” Education appeared to be a primary factor in the country’s improved maternal health. Chile today touts a maternal health record comparable to those of developed nations.

Statistics released the World Health Organization (WHO) support such conclusions. In South America, according to WHO, Chile boasts of the lowest rate of maternal mortality, whereas Guyana, which significantly liberalized its laws in the mid-1990s citing concern over maternal deaths, has the highest.

Indeed, perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the decline of maternal death rates in the developed world, a peer-reviewed article by Irvine Loudon appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000 confirms that the “sudden and dramatic decline in maternal mortality rates, which occurred after 1937, took place in all developed countries and eliminated the previously wide country-level differences in national mortality rates. The main factors that led to this decline seem to have been successive improvements in maternal care.”

As with Chile today, these strides in the developed world occurred at a time before access to abortion had been liberalized. Thus it appears that improving access to quality maternal health care, rather than permissive abortion laws, is what drives reductions in maternal death during pregnancy and delivery.

Maternal health experts such as noted obstetrician Donna Harrison, MD, point out that introducing abortion in a developing world setting without first improving basic maternal health care increases the risk of maternal death since health systems cannot adequately respond to complications from invasive surgical procedures such as abortion. Indeed, nations such as South Africa, which has one of the continent’s most liberal abortion regimes, has seen an increase in maternal deaths attributable in part to complications arising from legal abortion.

Dr. Koch presented his initial findings at the inaugural meeting of the International Working Group for Global Women's Health Research last month in Washington, DC.

02 febbraio 2010

The Obama Spell Is Broken

Unlike this president, John Kennedy was an ironist who never fell for his own mystique.

Wall Street Journal Online

The curtain has come down on what can best be described as a brief un-American moment in our history. That moment began in the fall of 2008, with the great financial panic, and gave rise to the Barack Obama phenomenon.

The nation's faith in institutions and time-honored ways had cracked. In a little-known senator from Illinois millions of Americans came to see a savior who would deliver the nation out of its troubles. Gone was the empiricism in political life that had marked the American temper in politics. A charismatic leader had risen in a manner akin to the way politics plays out in distressed and Third World societies.

There is nothing surprising about where Mr. Obama finds himself today. He had been made by charisma, and political magic, and has been felled by it. If his rise had been spectacular, so, too, has been his fall. The speed with which some of his devotees have turned on him—and their unwillingness to own up to what their infatuation had wrought—is nothing short of astounding. But this is the bargain Mr. Obama had made with political fortune.

He was a blank slate, and devotees projected onto him what they wanted or wished. In the manner of political redeemers who have marked—and wrecked—the politics of the Arab world and Latin America, Mr. Obama left the crowd to its most precious and volatile asset—its imagination. There was no internal coherence to the coalition that swept him to power. There was cultural "cool" and racial absolution for the white professional classes who were the first to embrace him. There was understandable racial pride on the part of the African-American community that came around to his banners after it ditched the Clinton dynasty.

The white working class had been slow to be convinced. The technocracy and elitism of Mr. Obama's campaign—indeed of his whole persona—troubled that big constituency, much more, I believe, than did his race and name. The promise of economic help, of an interventionist state that would salvage ailing industries and provide a safety net for the working poor, reconciled these voters to a candidate they viewed with a healthy measure of suspicion. He had been caught denigrating them as people "clinging to their guns and religion," but they had forgiven him.

Mr. Obama himself authored the tale of his own political crisis. He had won an election, but he took it as a plebiscite granting him a writ to remake the basic political compact of this republic.

Mr. Obama's self-regard, and his reading of his mandate, overwhelmed all restraint. The age-old American balance between a relatively small government and a larger role for the agencies of civil society was suddenly turned on its head. Speed was of the essence to the Obama team and its allies, the powerful barons in Congress. Better ram down sweeping social programs—a big liberal agenda before the people stirred to life again.

Progressives pressed for a draconian attack on the workings of our health care, and on the broader balance between the state and the marketplace. The economic stimulus, ObamaCare, the large deficits, the bailout package for the automobile industry—these, and so much more, were nothing short of a fundamental assault on the givens of the American social compact.

And then there was the hubris of the man at the helm: He was everywhere, and pronounced on matters large and small. This was political death by the teleprompter.

Americans don't deify their leaders or hang on their utterances, but Mr. Obama succumbed to what the devotees said of him: He was the Awaited One. A measure of reticence could have served him. But the flight had been heady, and in the manner of Icarus, Mr. Obama flew too close to the sun.

We have had stylish presidents, none more so than JFK. But Kennedy was an ironist and never fell for his own mystique. Mr. Obama's self-regard comes without irony—he himself now owns up to the "remoteness and detachment" of his governing style. We don't have in this republic the technocratic model of the European states, where a bureaucratic elite disposes of public policy with scant regard for the popular will. Mr. Obama was smitten with his own specialness.

In this extraordinary tale of hubris undone, the Europeans—more even than the people in Islamic lands—can be assigned no small share of blame. They overdid the enthusiasm for the star who had risen in America.

It was the way in Paris and Berlin (not to forget Oslo of course) of rebuking all that played out in America since 9/11—the vigilance, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the sense that America's interests and ways were threatened by a vengeful Islamism. But while the Europeans and Muslim crowds hailed him, they damned his country all the same. For his part, Mr. Obama played along, and in Ankara, Cairo, Paris and Berlin he offered penance aplenty for American ways.

But no sooner had the country recovered its poise, it drew a line for Mr. Obama. The "bluest" of states, Massachusetts, sent to Washington a senator who had behind him three decades of service in the National Guard, who proclaimed his pride in his "army values" and was unapologetic in his assertion that it was more urgent to hunt down terrorists than to provide for their legal defense.

Then the close call on Christmas Day at the hands of the Nigerian jihadist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab demonstrated that the terrorist threat had not receded. The president did his best to recover: We are at war, he suddenly proclaimed. Nor were we in need of penance abroad. Rumors of our decline had been exaggerated. The generosity of the American response to Haiti, when compared to what India and China had provided, was a stark reminder that this remains an exceptional nation that needs no apologies in distant lands.


A historical hallmark of "isms" and charismatic movements is to dig deeper when they falter—to insist that the "thing" itself, whether it be Peronism, or socialism, etc., had not been tried but that the leader had been undone by forces that hemmed him in.

It is true to this history that countless voices on the left now want Obama to be Obama. The economic stimulus, the true believers say, had not gone astray, it only needed to be larger; the popular revolt against ObamaCare would subside if and when a new system was put in place.

There had been that magical moment—the campaign of 2008—and the true believers want to return to it. But reality is merciless. The spell is broken.

Mr. Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is the author of "The Foreigner's Gift" (Free Press, 2007).

Nothing Novel Seen in New Pius XII Documents

Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-28224?l=english

L'Osservatore Romano Gives Context of Two Texts From 40s

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Two more documents regarding Pope Pius XII and his handling of the Third Reich and the Holocaust have resurfaced, refueling allegations that he was silent and bringing historians to his defense.

The Vatican's semi-official daily, L'Osservatore Romano, today took up the news generated by researcher Giuseppe Casarrubea, who has analyzed two documents found in an English archive.

The Italian press is reporting Casarrubea's presentation of a brief document from Oct. 19, 1943, and a letter of Nov. 10, 1944.

The first document reports on a meeting between Pius XII and U.S. diplomat Harold Tittmann. Though the meeting took place just three days after the deportation of Roman Jews, the document makes no mention of that tragedy.

It does speak about the Pope's concern to keep Rome in peace.

Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, retired prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, who entered Pius XII's diplomatic service in 1953, told the Italian newspaper La Stampa today that although the Pope did not raise his voice in face of the deportation, he dedicated himself to concrete actions.

In the interview, cited by L'Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said the Holy Father's activity on behalf of the Jews would not have been possible should relations with the Germans have grown tense.

"In that tragic period, the Pope was concerned that the Germans leave Rome in peace and respect its sacred character," Cardinal Silvestrini explained.

"And this was not an option against the Jews. On the contrary. Precisely that attitude of prudence made it possible to act in an effective and concrete manner in favor of the Jews and many others who were persecuted. Every gesture of protest or rebellion with a lot of publicity would have been counterproductive," the L'Osservatore Romano article stated.

"At the same time the Pope mobilized so that Catholic churches and institutions would receive the greatest possible number of Jews," Cardinal Silvestrini said. "But an explicit protest would have caused more damages than advantages."

Cardinal Silvestrini recalled how Pius XII was no stranger to German affairs, having been nuncio in Munich and in Berlin from 1917 to 1929: "He knew what Nazism was."

A time to speak

The other document, a letter of Nov. 10, 1944, makes reference to a dialogue between British ambassador Francis D'Arcy Osborne and Pius XII on the massacres of Jews in Hungary. Osborne urged a public condemnation of the tragedy.

The Holy Father noted how the Apostolic See was receiving continual appeals to denounce the crimes of Stalin in the Baltic countries and in Poland.

In this regard, however, the ambassador suggested silence, to protect public opinion of the allies.

For both situations, Pius XII chose his customary prudence.

Cardinal Silvestrini explained that "Pius XII considered what happened to the Dutch bishops as a warning not to be repeated."

He observed: "Holland's episcopate wrote a letter condemning 'the cruel and unjust treatment of Jews.' That document was read in Dutch churches in July of 1942.

"The intentions were excellent, but the results were disastrous."

"Precisely in the country in which the priests had denounced the Jewish persecutions most harshly, there were more deportations than in any other state of Western Europe," Cardinal Silvestrini said. "In face of the Shoa the Allies kept silent as did all the others, but only Pius XII is called to account. The others are never up for discussion."

Much-maligned pontiff

By Dimitri Cavalli, Haaretz.com

Some things never go away. The controversy over Pope Pius XII's actions during World War II was recently reignited when Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree affirming that his predecessor displayed "heroic virtues" during his lifetime. When the pope visited the Great Synagogue of Rome on Sunday, Riccardo Pacifici, president of Rome's Jewish community, told him: "The silence of Pius XII before the Shoah still hurts because something should have been done."

This was not the first time the wartime pope, who is now a step closer to beatification, has been accused of keeping silent during the Holocaust, of doing little or nothing to help the Jews, and even of collaborating with the Nazis. To what extent, if any, does the evidence back up these allegations, which have been repeated since the early 1960s?

On April 4, 1933, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the Vatican secretary of state, instructed the papal nuncio in Germany to see what he could do to oppose the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies.

On behalf of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Pacelli drafted an encyclical, entitled "Mit brennender Sorge" ("With Burning Anxiety"), that condemned Nazi doctrines and persecution of the Catholic Church. The encyclical was smuggled into Germany and read from Catholic pulpits on March 21, 1937.

Although many Vatican critics today dismiss the encyclical as a light slap on the wrist, the Germans saw it as a security threat. For example, on March 26, 1937, Hans Dieckhoff, an official in the German foreign ministry, wrote that the "encyclical contains attacks of the severest nature upon the German government, calls upon Catholic citizens to rebel against the authority of the state, and therefore signifies an attempt to endanger internal peace."

Both Great Britain and France should have interpreted the document as a warning that they should not trust Adolf Hitler or try to appease him.

After the death of Pius XI, Cardinal Pacelli was elected pope, on March 2, 1939. The Nazis were displeased with the new pontiff, who took the name Pius XII. On March 4, Joseph Goebbels, the German propaganda minister, wrote in his diary: "Midday with the Fuehrer. He is considering whether we should abrogate the concordat with Rome in light of Pacelli's election as pope."

During the war, the pope was far from silent: In numerous speeches and encyclicals, he championed human rights for all people and called on the belligerent nations to respect the rights of all civilians and prisoners of war. Unlike many of the pope's latter-day detractors, the Nazis understood him very well. After studying Pius XII's 1942 Christmas message, the Reich Central Security Office concluded: "In a manner never known before the pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order ... Here he is virtually accusing the German people of injustice toward the Jews and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals." (Pick up any book that criticizes Pius XII, and you won't find any mention of this important report.)

In early 1940, the pope acted as an intermediary between a group of German generals who wanted to overthrow Hitler and the British government. Although the conspiracy never went forward, Pius XII kept in close contact with the German resistance and heard about two other plots against Hitler. In the fall of 1941, through diplomatic channels, the pope agreed with Franklin Delano Roosevelt that America's Catholics could support the president's plans to extend military aid to the Soviet Union after it was invaded by the Nazis. On behalf of the Vatican, John T. McNicholas, the archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, delivered a well-publicized address that explained that the extension of assistance to the Soviets could be morally justified because it helped the Russian people, who were the innocent victims of German aggression.

Throughout the war, the pope's deputies frequently ordered the Vatican's diplomatic representatives in many Nazi-occupied and Axis countries to intervene on behalf of endangered Jews. Up until Pius XII's death in 1958, many Jewish organizations, newspapers and leaders lauded his efforts. To cite one of many examples, in his April 7, 1944, letter to the papal nuncio in Romania, Alexander Shafran, chief rabbi of Bucharest, wrote: "It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the supreme pontiff, who offered a large sum to relieve the sufferings of deported Jews ... The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance."

The campaign against Pope Pius XII is doomed to failure because his detractors cannot sustain their main charges against him - that he was silent, pro-Nazi, and did little or nothing to help the Jews - with evidence. Perhaps only in a backward world such as ours would the one man who did more than any other wartime leader to help Jews and other Nazi victims, receive the greatest condemnation.

Dimitri Cavalli is an editor and writer in New York City. He is working on books on both Pope Pius XII and Joe McCarthy, the late manager of the New York Yankees.

01 febbraio 2010

Haitian diary

To All,

I just returned from Haiti with Hebler. We flew in at 3 AM Sunday to the scene of such incredible destruction on one side, and enormous ineptitude and criminal neglect on the other.

Port au Prince is in ruins. The rest of the country is fairly intact. Our team was a rescue team and we carried special equipment that locates people buried under the rubble. There are easily 200,000 dead, the city smells like a charnal house. The bloody UN was there for 5 years doing apparently nothing but wasting US Taxpayers money. The ones I ran into were either incompeyent or outright anti american. Most are French or French speakers, worthless every damn one of them. While 1800 rescuers were ready willing and able to leave the airport and go do our jobs, the UN and USAID ( another organization full of little OBamites and communisrts that openly speak against America) These two organizations exemplared their parochialism by:

USAID, when in control of all inbound flights, had food and water flights stacked up all the way to Miami, yet allowed Geraldo Rivera, Anderson Cooper and a host of other left wing news puppies to land.

Pulled all the security off the rescue teams so that Bill Clinton and his wife could have the grand tour, whilst we sat unable to get to people trapped in the rubble.

Stacked enough food and water for the relief over at the side of the airfield then put a guard on it while we dehydrated and wouldnt release a drop of it to the resuers.

No shower facilities to decontaminate after digging or moving corpses all day, except for the FEMA teams who brought their own shower and decon equipment, as well as air conditioned tents.

No latrine facilities, less digging a hole if you set up a shitter everyone was trying to use it.

I watched a 25 year old Obamite with the USAID shrieking hysterically, berate a full bird colonel in the air force, because he countermanded her orders, whilst trying to unscrew the air pattern. " You dont know what your president wants! The military isn’t in charge here, we are!"

If any of you are thinking of giving money to the Haitian relief, or to the UN don't waste your money. It will only go to further the goals of the French and the Liberal left.

If we are a fair and even society, why is it that only white couples are adopting Haitian orphans. Where the hell is that vocal minority that is alweays screaming about the injustice of American society.

Bad place, bad situation, but a perfect look at the new world order in action. New Orleans magnified a thousand times. Haiti doesn't need democracy, what Haiti needs is Papa Doc. That's not just my opinion , that is what virtually every Haitian we talked with said. The French run the UN treat us the same as when we were a colony, at least Papa Doc ran the country.

Oh, and as a last slap in the face, the last four of us had to take US AIRWAYs home from Phoenix. They slapped me with a 590 dollar baggage charge for the four of us. The girl at the counter was almost in tears because she couldn't give us a discount or she would lose her job. Pass that on to the flying public.

Nick Brockhausen

via email