Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Hypocrisy's new name -- Benedict defends the indefensible
One way to tell it's Christmas time in Rome is when Vatican leaders start overdoing the eggnog! How else to explain Pope Benedict XVI's decision to push Pope Pius XII toward sainthood before opening the records of his papacy to scrutiny, and with the pope's World War II-era participation in the Hitler Youth in Germany still a matter of controversy? Of course, this issue comes up because of statements today from a Vatican spokesman defending Benedict's decision, according to the New York Times. Benedict spoke of the "heroic virtues" of Pius XII and Pope John Paul II on Saturday, the next step in advancing both men to sainthood if it is found that they performed miracles. The spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, responded to criticism from Jewish groups who allege that Pius XII, who was the Vatican's ambassador to Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, did not try to prevent or stop the Holocaust before or after he became pope and helped many former Nazis escape to South America after the war, the Times said. Pius XII was pope from 1939 to 1958. Advancing Pius toward sainthood "should not in any way be read as a hostile act against the Jewish people, and we hope it will not be considered an obstacle in the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church," Lombardi said. But how could it be seen as anything but? And how else to see the decision to beatify Pius XII before opening the church's extensive document archive from his papacy than a blatant attempt at obfuscation? Let's not forget that Benedict, the first pope with a Nazi background, still has a lot of explaining to do about his decisions to lift the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop and to not mention the Nazis or Germany in remarks he gave at a visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial earlier this year.