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December 1, 2008 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking at the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Rome, which was badly damaged by Allied bombing in July 1943, again praised Pius XII, a pope seen by Jewish leaders and other critics as having turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, and who is nonetheless on his way towards beatification, a step towards sainthood. The Vatican contends that Pius XII worked behind the scenes to help many escape the Holocaust, although many Catholics question the beatification.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (96 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Oh whatever, he's already dead.
posted by ageispolis at 6:00 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Like a lot of Europe's Jews.
posted by rodgerd at 6:07 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


The pope could've, and should've, done more. However, if we're going to point fingers then the protestant movement is just as tainted as the Catholic church, perhaps more so.
posted by mullingitover at 6:10 PM on December 1, 2008


I have no doubt a modern day Dante would put Pacelli in hell. Beatification should be out of the question for what he did with the Centre Party and Cardinal Stepinak alone.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:30 PM on December 1, 2008


Pff. Current Popes an ex nazi, what do you expect?
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


However, if we're going to point fingers then the protestant movement is just as tainted as the Catholic church, perhaps more so.

The Protestant movement isn't a monolithic organization with more money than God and a strong hierarchical chain of command with a large presence and (particularly pre-war) enormous respect in every nation in Europe. If any organization was well-positioned to stand up against the Nazis, it was the Catholic Church, and the Vatican's refusal to do so despite being in perhaps the best place to do so constitutes collaboration.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:33 PM on December 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


Jeepers, if you're going to hang someone out to dry for the Holocaust, how about the whole people of Germany? Not to mention Austria, Poland, France, Hungary -- all of whom willingly sent Jews to their deaths. To pick on one lousy pope, as if the whole thing rested on his shoulders seems to let the GERMAN PEOPLE (Hitler's Willing Executioners) off the hook. There are plenty of elderly Germans and their children and grandchildren walking the streets today, carefree and enjoying life, whose hands are a billion times bloodier than Pope Pius's. If we still want to punish someone for the Holocaust, let's bulldoze the whole nation of Germany and sow the ground with salt. THEN, we'll go after the popes.
posted by Faze at 6:33 PM on December 1, 2008


Or, you know, just not make them saints.
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on December 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


Better links here. And you can't have a post that doesn't talk about Mit Brennender Sorge, the only papal letter ever written in the vernacular (German), distributed to and read aloud in every German parish in 1937.

And the quote, "How many divisions does the pope have?" comes to mind with the "could've done more" angle. Tell us all, what might he have done?
posted by resurrexit at 6:36 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Vatican's refusal to do so despite being in perhaps the best place to do so constitutes collaboration.
posted by Pope Guilty


eposysterical?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:44 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or, you know, just not make them saints.

Sainthood seems like a bit of a slippery slope. At first it was really hard to get in. And then they made a lot of people saints retroactively. Now there are so many it seems like an insult to not be beatified.

And what are the qualifications beyond the whole three miracles thing? Is there a character test or some sort of Senate review committee? Are their any disqualifying criteria?
posted by GuyZero at 6:46 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have no doubt a modern day Dante would put Pacelli in hell

That's the difference between then and now: Dante had no problem seeing the pope as a fallible administrator, as capable of evil as anyone else. Now popes have to be beatified, and to do so, we're expected to ignore or excuse their actual behavior.
posted by rottytooth at 6:51 PM on December 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


And what are the qualifications beyond the whole three miracles thing?
The first requirement is that the candidate must have been deceased for at least 50 years before they can be considered for sainthood. This shows the `staying power' of the saint, in that if he or she is forgotten within this time limit, then they were probably just nice people. Then, two specific characteristics must be established through the testimony of credible witnesses- eminent virtues (or virtues to a `heroic degree'), and the performance of at least two authentic miracles. Once these two qualifications are satisfied, the pope assigns the cause to a committee of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and this introduction into the official process is called Beatification.*
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:52 PM on December 1, 2008


Ah well, I'm sure they've made worse people saints.
posted by Artw at 6:54 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's the difference between then and now: Dante had no problem seeing the pope as a fallible administrator, as capable of evil as anyone else. Now popes have to be beatified, and to do so, we're expected to ignore or excuse their actual behavior.

Not to mention the first Vatican council made popes "infallible". Then, Dante was doing what all sensible Christians should do: question the human leadership of their divine church. Now Dante would be a simple heretic.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:00 PM on December 1, 2008


Faze writes "Jeepers, if you're going to hang someone out to dry for the Holocaust, how about the whole people of Germany?"

I completely agree. Luther was German, and I think that, like Hitler, a lot of his tortured rhetoric about the Jews was just an attempt to legitimize or capitalize on the overt anti-semitism already present in the population. At the time of Luther, and of Hitler as well, the population was impoverished and ignorant, and that's the type of culture media that racialbigotcillus thrives on.

Regardless, collective punishment is always wrong. However, it happened anyway as the German population was crushed, their nation torn asunder by their conquerers, and they get to spend the next century or more kvetching helplessly about the actions of their ancestors just like we do here in the US over slavery.

resurrexit writes "Tell us all, what might he have done?"

Excommunicate everyone with innocent blood on their hands who doesn't immediately repent and work to stop the slaughter. This is brain-dead simple if you actually care about humanity and have any principles whatsoever. They're threatening similar actions even now for something as trifling as artifically ending a pregnancy. Imagine what good would've been wrought if they had been pro-life when it counted.
posted by mullingitover at 7:00 PM on December 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


And what are the qualifications beyond the whole three miracles thing? Is there a character test or some sort of Senate review committee? Are their any disqualifying criteria?

The term "Devil's Advocate" (or "advocatus diaboli") comes from the canonization process, in which someone would argue that the candidate for sainthood wasn't worthy of the honor. John Paul ditched it back in the 80's.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:00 PM on December 1, 2008


A papal condemnation of the Holocaust in pointed rather than general terms would likely have resulted in more dead Catholics and no fewer dead Jews. Pacelli may have succumbed to human weakness when presented with the opportunity to put his neck on the line for general principles, but I can't condemn him for electing not to martyr his constituents for the sake of burnishing his own moral credentials.
posted by Makoto at 7:04 PM on December 1, 2008


I thought Hitchens got to play Devil's advocate for Mother Theresa, and that would have been past the 80's.
posted by piratebowling at 7:04 PM on December 1, 2008


Oh, some searching shows that while he had that role, the term was no longer in use. There we go.
posted by piratebowling at 7:06 PM on December 1, 2008


He was invited (pretty much for the appearance of it, as far as I can tell- it's useful to be able to say "Well, they gave the extremely serious and well-documented charges of her being an inhuman monster a hearing!", even if the Vatican didn't really care what he had to say) to testify against her, but not in the formal role of Devil's Advocate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:08 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pacelli may have succumbed to human weakness when presented with the opportunity to put his neck on the line for general principles, but I can't condemn him for electing not to martyr his constituents for the sake of burnishing his own moral credentials.

If he believed half of what he preaches, he'd cheerfully go to the slaughterhouse for his faith. Like nearly all religious leaders, however, he was much happier living in luxury on earth than taking the risk that he was wrong.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:10 PM on December 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Not to mention the first Vatican council made popes "infallible". Then, Dante was doing what all sensible Christians should do: question the human leadership of their divine church. Now Dante would be a simple heretic.

Wha?

Excommunicate everyone with innocent blood on their hands who doesn't immediately repent and work to stop the slaughter. This is brain-dead simple if you actually care about humanity and have any principles whatsoever. They're threatening similar actions even now for something as trifling as artifically ending a pregnancy. Imagine what good would've been wrought if they had been pro-life when it counted.

Ever heard of something called due process? People aren't just summarily deprived of their rights in the Catholic church. (Unless you're a post-scandal priest accused of impropriety.) Excommunication is a vindicative penalty, and may only be imposed after a long process. You don't just willy-nilly excommunicate someone, much less everyone with "blood on their hands". The 1917 code, in effect at the time, permitted excommunication for homicide (1917 CIC 2354.) Arguably, one places one's self outside of the church by such an act, rendering a formal ferendae sententiae excommunication unnecessary.
posted by resurrexit at 7:13 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, he's not a... - oh dear.
posted by Artw at 7:13 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


If he believed half of what he preaches, he'd cheerfully go to the slaughterhouse for his faith.

It's one thing to bring this upon one's self; quite another to invite it upon others.
posted by resurrexit at 7:14 PM on December 1, 2008


Religious leader does something of questionable morality, film at 11.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:17 PM on December 1, 2008


"There are more than 10,000 Roman Catholic saints. The older term for saint is martyr, meaning someone who would rather die than give up their faith, or more specifically, witness for God. "
posted by Artw at 7:19 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Who was the worst catholic saint?
posted by Artw at 7:20 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Makoto writes "Pacelli may have succumbed to human weakness when presented with the opportunity to put his neck on the line for general principles, but I can't condemn him for electing not to martyr his constituents for the sake of burnishing his own moral credentials."

So you're saying he screwed up their chances to go to heaven as martyrs? *sigh*

I'd find these religions to be a lot more credible if the purportedly faithful really believed them. If I believed in an awesome afterlife, I'd be dying to get in by any means possible.
posted by mullingitover at 7:27 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The baby Jesus wept.
posted by chinston at 7:28 PM on December 1, 2008


Well because our understanding of the holocaust in 2008 after decades of annual million dollar blockbusters with it as its subject is the same understanding as those had living contemporaneous with it.

To parse that out a little bit, I'm not sure anybody at the time was aware the holocaust was going to be any more significant than any other pogrom which used to be all the rage back then when people were poor and had nothing better to do. Blaming the pope for his human interpretative skills is being dogmatic. Of course, the whole notion of sainthood and the bureaucracy and political bickering thereof is pretty retarded too.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 7:33 PM on December 1, 2008


I'm no fan of the Pope, but some of these comments strike me as glib. Let's try and remember that our perspective on the issue has the benefit of decades of hindsight. I've never heard anyone from that time period say that they had any inkling of the scale of the atrocities until (well) after the war was won.

Sure, everyone knew there had been pogroms, and toward the end I think it was becoming clear to people in positions of power that some state-sponsored mass killings had happened in some places, but the idea that there was a massive, reich-wide, systematic, assembly-line genocide would have been hard for normal people of that time to even imagine, let alone discover. Remember that even Roosevelt refused to take in Jewish refugees when he had the chance (so it's doubtful even he knew the full extent of things).

Besides that, the Pope may honestly have believed he could be more helpful by maintaining the illusion of neutrality and condemning race-based violence in a general way. And who knows? He might have been right. We don't know. If he had just flat-out come out against Nazism, it's entirely possible the Vatican would have been razed to the ground just to make a point (please do remember that Mussolini was not a nice man, and not always a particularly good strategist either). Regardless, it's virtually certain that Catholics would have been persecuted for their allegiance to the pope after such a decree, and/or forcibly converted to Protestantism. The scale of the bloodshed may have increased even further.

These are excerpts from one of those links:

On July 20 that same year, Pacelli and German diplomat Franz Von Papen signed a concordat that granted freedom of practice to the Roman Catholic Church. In return, the Church agreed to separate religion from politics.

I think that's pretty clear. "If you don't denounce us, we won't kill all the Catholics." An offer you can't refuse. Or at least I don't think I could. Here's another:

In October 1941, the Assistant Chief of the U.S. delegation to the Vatican, Harold Tittman, asked the Pope to condemn the atrocities. The response came that the Holy See wanted to remain "neutral," and that condemning the atrocities would have a negative influence on Catholics in German-held lands.

There you have it. "WTF dude?! You want me, the sovereign leader of Catholicism, whom all Catholics are required to obey, to diss these Nazis we're all surrounded by? You want I should paint targets on their backs too?"

Maybe he made the wrong choice. OK, probably it was the wrong choice. A lot more people would have died at the time, but the war would have ended a lot quicker because the Nazi state, pressed for people, would have a harder time killing and suppressing so many. But who are we to make that judgement now, at our own leisure, in a time and place where we aren't in imminent danger, and with our nearly complete historical knowledge of the situation at that time, and condemn a man of those times for arguably making the wrong call? Sainthood isn't a tawdry merit badge for good strategy, it's a tawdry merit badge for being all Christianey and moral and stuff. A person can make bad chess moves and still have the right intentions.
posted by Xezlec at 7:36 PM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Pope Benedict XVI is my man. If the jackboot fits....

If only Francis Bacon was still around.

I wrote The Des Moines Art Center and asked to "borrow" their painting by Francis Bacon titled, "Study After Velasquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X" when I was told that another piece I was interested in seeing was "on loan." They wrote back, but that's another story.

I also offered the kid (a museum page) making $7 an hour $400 bucks to help me load it in my car. He refused

I'm an atheist, but I love me some palpal history. Dragged from their graves, put on trial, beheaded, drawn and quartered, (or at least that's the story I choose to remember, but can't find a cite for). Female Popes.

The whole Cadaver Synod thing.

The last Pope and the Signoracci clan.

Oh Popes are so much fun!

By the way, John Paul II was a playwright!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:39 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]



Did you ever wonder if a pip REALLY believes in the God he prays to? I mean these guys are always well on in years. Don't you think that eventually they begin to think for themselves?
posted by notreally at 7:47 PM on December 1, 2008


Hell, why not just make this guy a saint!
posted by Artw at 7:49 PM on December 1, 2008


Imagine what good would've been wrought if they had been pro-life when it counted.

The religious basis for the sacredness of life is a non-starter in ethical arguments like this. If the Baal-worshipping Phoenicians had the numbers to beat the Romans, maybe we'd be sacrificing a holocaust of babies every year. Supreme Generals, but spiritually stunted.

Not to get all theological up in hurr, but Catholicism's anti-abortion stance is only about 150 years old. Augustine and Aquinas thought it blue chip. They contended it wasn't murder until the fetus had acquired form, and until then, it's but a piece of property belonging to dad. I guess they got that part wrong, but when the only biology you have is semen and some wacky science from the Greeks, its somewhat understandable they viewed the woman as a fertile environment of a human form contributed by the male (which persisted well into the 17th century). So it's not just paternalistic, it's bad biology. (Germanic tribes thought the major organ was the stomach, not the heart)

Anyways, the Sacred Congregation of the Faith in the 1860s (a reformation of the Inquisition) citing Aquinas on un-procured abortions is a misreading of what he meant by form, which I think is strictly Aristotelean meaning not the 'shape' of a human but by definition the 'understanding' component of the tripart soul, making human's the kind they are, which one could argue begins at 20-24 weeks, or if you take knowledge/understanding beginning at experience, you may argue its ethically appropriate right up until birth, and you'd still be keeping with historical Catholic doctrine.

Interesting. For you cannot be a saint if you say something doctrinally false. Its strange that kings lost their divine right and popes gained their own. Presidents and executives in general seem to be rediscovering their divine right as well. There's no pronouncement ex cathedra on abortion, if so, we'd have to say Aquinas and Augustine are grave sinners for leading us into such a grave believe. Yet, the censor deputatus says "nihil obstat", interprets Catholic faith in lieu of making clumps of cells sacred, then imprimatur.

And Judaism? Fetus is an unjust pursuer
Islam? Fetus has provisional personhood

Christianity, until recently, is no different.
posted by ageispolis at 7:51 PM on December 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


The older term for saint is martyr, meaning someone who would rather die than give up their faith, or more specifically, witness for God.

That's what I, as a non-Catholic, am not getting about this. What I picked up from Sister Wendy's The Mystery of Love is that in order to become a saint, someone has to kill you for your unrepentant belief in the divinity of Jesus. That book is full of gorgeous paintings of people who died horribly at the hands of... whatever the Catholic equivalent of a gentile is. A lot of them are actually dying in said paintings, although some of them are just hanging around near the things that killed them, which is how saints were often depicted back in the day.

The "modern" requirements [where saints =/= martyrs] strike me as odd. I guess they had to revise them, once those nasty executions became a thing of the past and the murderous intolerance moved on to other religions. One has to be dead for at least fifty years, but have credible eyewitnesses to one's two or more miracles? No eyewitness account is reliable fifty years later! That's why we have statutes of limitations for crimes.
posted by cirocco at 7:53 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


A person can make bad chess moves and still have the right intentions.

Wasn't there a saying about paving and Hell?
posted by Alnedra at 7:53 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Excommunicate everyone with innocent blood on their hands who doesn't immediately repent and work to stop the slaughter. "

Sure, because the set of devout Catholics that would take the threat of excommunication seriously enough to defy the will of a dictator with a large army and a complete disregard for humanity completely overlaps the set of Germans that carried out the genocidal dictates of said dictator.
posted by oddman at 7:59 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


While no one can dissuade church-hating knee-jerkers from rallying around this set-piece of anti-Catholicism, if you're on the fence on this one or just generally uninformed, please read this article--and maybe even the book it reviews? The quotes at the end of the article are worth it if you read nothing else.

"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?"
posted by resurrexit at 8:03 PM on December 1, 2008


LOL ageispolis. Are you a staffer for Senator Pelosi? That is some tortured shit.

Metafilter, where every atheist is a dogmatic theologian/Christian philosopher/Church historian.
posted by resurrexit at 8:11 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not that irreligiosity breeds knowledge of theology and the church, but rather the other way 'round.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:17 PM on December 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


While no one can dissuade church-hating knee-jerkers from rallying around this set-piece of anti-Catholicism . .

Whoah, hang on. I purposefully included the Vatican's arguments - all of which are covered by your "better links" incidentally - specifically because I do believe there is a strong case to be made that Pius XII did help in other ways. But it's important to understand exactly why his beatification is controversial to many.

Not to mention the fact that being against the beatification of Pius XII is not necessarily anti-Catholic. There are, as pointed out in the last link, Catholics who disagree with the process, not to mention Catholics who don't recognize Vatican II, or even the current lineage.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:24 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


In the end I personally don't mind Pius being sainted, but only because it's a meaningless gesture. Sainthood is a cheap facade for the open practice of idolatry (not that that's any different to me than worshipping an invisible sky wizard, but some people like to get hung up on pedantic differences). I don't recall a single mention of a 'saint' anywhere in the bible, but I do remember some things being said about graven images.
posted by mullingitover at 8:36 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


And people think the Mormon Church is fucked up.
posted by tkchrist at 8:42 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do remember some things being said about graven images.

Me too! But maybe the one you were thinking of doesn't mean what you think it means?

"In the ark you are to put the commandments which I will give you. "You shall then make a propitiatory of pure gold, two cubits and a half long, and one and a half cubits wide. Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the propitiatory, fastening them so that one cherub springs direct from each end. The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, covering the propitiatory with them; they shall be turned toward each other, but with their faces looking toward the propitiatory. This propitiatory you shall then place on top of the ark. In the ark itself you are to put the commandments which I will give you. There I will meet you and there, from above the propitiatory, between the two cherubim on the ark of the commandments, I will tell you all the commands that I wish you to give the Israelites."

I don't recall a single mention of a 'saint' anywhere in the bible

Well . . .

Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
posted by resurrexit at 8:44 PM on December 1, 2008


At least Catholicism produces better literature.
posted by Artw at 8:44 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm no atheist. I'm afraid I'm a fellow Catholic with ya resurrexit. Baptized, consecrated, reconciled, confirmed, molested, self-excommunicated. Oh the heresy! And dogmatic? I've just liberated us Catholics from a wholly stupid ethical issue! Abortion, regardless of creed or culture, boils down to whether or not the fetus is a person. Catholic doctrine, interpreted through the Aristotelean lens by Aquinas and Augustine, albeit corrupted from translation as it banged along from Baghdad, allows the fetus to be a person only when it has acquired the form of a human being. Not something created immediately by God at conception. Those who repudiate this by quoting Aquinas's Summa Theologica are committing the same hermeneutic fallacy. Church fucked up, straight up.
posted by ageispolis at 8:45 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


While no one can dissuade church-hating knee-jerkers from rallying around this set-piece of anti-Catholicism, if you're on the fence on this one or just generally uninformed, please read this article-

Uh. For the uninformed the "article"is:

The Myth of Hitlers Pope by Rabbi David G. Dalin.

Jeebus. Are you fucking kidding me? Theis Rabbi who is a so-called "history" "professor" Florida’s Ave Maria University? The university founded by the nut-bag who owns Dominos Pizza, Thomas Monaghan?

That guy is total a right wing god damned hysterical mouth breather and not the least bit credible. And niether is his completely fabricated piece of propaganda.
posted by tkchrist at 8:55 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


resurrexit writes "Well . . .

"
Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. "

I can't find the part which instructs the faithful to make graven images of the saints and pray to them.
posted by mullingitover at 8:58 PM on December 1, 2008


ageispolis, the Church isn't infallible on matters of biology, and two theologians who got their biology wrong--and only parts of whose theology has found its way into the sum of magisterial teaching (i.e., while a good bit of Augustine's and nearly all of Aquinas' thought is co-existent with what the Church teaches, not all of it is)--NEVER considered abortion anything less than a horrible sin. Your fallacy is equating Augustine and Aquinas with magisterial teaching.
posted by resurrexit at 9:04 PM on December 1, 2008


After the war members of the catholic church helped to smuggle Nazi war criminals out of Europe to South America. When I say members I mean people like Bishop Alois Hudal and Monsignor Karl Bayer. I don't know that there's direct incontrovertible evidence that their activities were supported by the Vatican but here's what the always completely unreliable wikipedia says:

Furthermore, since the works of Graham and Blet were published, historian Michael Phayer, a professor at Marquette University (a Catholic, Jesuit University), has alleged the close collaboration between the Vatican (Pope Pius XII and Giovanni Battista Montini, then "Substitute" of the Secretariat of State, and later Paul VI), on the one side and Draganović and Hudal on the other, and has sustained that Pius XII himself was directly engaged in ratline activity. Against these allegations of the direct involvement of Pope Pius XII and his staff there are some opposing testimonies and the denial by Vatican officials of any involvement of Pius XII himself. But according to Michael Phayer, the American Bishop Aloisius Muench, Pius XII's own envoy to occupied western Germany after the war, "wrote to the Vatican warning the pope to desist from his efforts to have convicted war criminals excused". The letter, written in Italian, "is available in the archives of the Catholic University of America", according to Michael Phayer

This stuff happened after the collapse of Nazi germany when the extent of the Nazi crimes against was known and there was no threat from the defunct German regime.
posted by rdr at 9:22 PM on December 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


All I'm saying is that Augustine and Aquinas are beatified Saints, and for better reason than Pius XII as they were brilliant thinkers and I look up to them quite fondly. I've seen the Catholic Church take misstep after misstep (or at least it seems as such since the Enlightenment) and its heartbreaking but inevitable that systems, sacred or not, either adapt or fail. The First Vatican Council may have marked the beginning of the end, which coincides with the Sacred Congregation I spoke of above. It's also not a matter of biology, but philosophy (or a Supreme Court) that argues when a human being is a person. And I'm not sure there is a good answer to the question, but according to Augustine and Aquinas' understanding, from an Aristotelean perspective, personhood certainly does not begin at the potentiality of conception, where any "person" is nothing but a zygote of totipotent, unspecialized cells.
posted by ageispolis at 9:27 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't find the part which instructs the faithful to make graven images of the saints and pray to them.

But is it then forbidden in the absence of a positive, affirmative prohibition? (Catholics don't read the scripture like this; we don't believe the Church comes from the Bible--we believe that the Bible came from the Church.)

Perhaps your trouble with prayer to saints generally is that--for Protestants, and perhaps for you?--the fullness of worship can only ever be prayer (which includes song). Prayer IS the sum of worship. They just pray to an invisible God and that's worship and they're done. They can do this from home, and you are dead-on if you say that you don't need a church to do that. And not that Catholics don't believe that prayer directed to God isn't worship; it most certainly is. But Catholics have the Eucharist. That little piece of bread that we believe becomes God Incarnate at the Mass--and we kneel down and adore that and worship it in our hearts and minds and souls. (Crazy, I know.) Non-Catholics just don't have that. Worship (cf. dulia and latria) of saints--or anything other than God--is heresy and never has been tolerated and never will be (the whole first commandment thing).

I have wondered if that explains the mistaken equation of prayer with worship among many non-Catholics?
posted by resurrexit at 9:28 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Though we do Hail Mary)
posted by ageispolis at 9:37 PM on December 1, 2008


Sainthood is a cheap facade for the open practice of idolatry (not that that's any different to me than worshipping an invisible sky wizard, but some people like to get hung up on pedantic differences). I don't recall a single mention of a 'saint' anywhere in the bible, but I do remember some things being said about graven images.

Interesting. Last summer, I had the privilege of visiting The Vatican. Although a secular Jew, I was bowled over by the beauty of the place. However, a few things about St. Peter's Basilica struck me as odd.

First, the whole place is filled with statues of former Popes. Granted, I don't really know a lot about Catholicism, but I couldn't help but think, "is this a temple to their god, or to their former church leaders?"

Then you have the people lining up to touch the feet of the bronze St. Peter statue. Apparently, doing so is of religious significance. This also struck me as odd. I was brought up Jewish, and one of the first stories I remember from Hebrew school was the one about Abraham breaking the idols in his father's workshop.

So, when I returned to the States, I asked one of my friends (who was raised Catholic) about the statues in the Basilica.

Me : "All those statues of the former Popes, and all those people lined up to touch St. Peter's feet. Isn't that a bit like idolatry?"

Him : "(shrug) Well, Catholics are still a bit pagan like that."

Don't get me wrong, visiting the Vatican was an amazing experience. Inside the Basilica, I felt more connected to the Hebrew god than I have in many Jewish synagogues. If I ever were to convert to Christianity, I think the Catholics would have me on the basis of artwork alone.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:51 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


You could always say "fuck it" and go voodoo.
posted by Artw at 9:53 PM on December 1, 2008


resurrexit writes "But is it then forbidden in the absence of a positive, affirmative prohibition?"

You're being deliberately obtuse.

resurrexit writes "(Catholics don't read the scripture like this; we don't believe the Church comes from the Bible--we believe that the Bible came from the Church.) "

Ah, I see. My personal faith does the same thing, which is how I got my special edition of the Bible which says I can do whatever I want and go to Super Heaven, which is like regular Heaven but also offers the Stripper Factory and Beer Volcano of the Pastafarians.
posted by mullingitover at 10:15 PM on December 1, 2008


Hitler's Pope

(by a Catholic who, upon starting his investigation preparing for writing a book about Pius, fully expected to exonerate him)
posted by Flunkie at 10:25 PM on December 1, 2008


LOL ageispolis. Are you a staffer for Senator Pelosi? That is some tortured shit.

LOL She's not a senator.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Um, weren't millions of non-Jewish people killed too? Perhaps they need a smart Jewish lawyer to present their case.
posted by Cranberry at 11:42 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


After the war members of the catholic church helped to smuggle Nazi war criminals out of Europe to South America.

That's nothing. The French Catholic Church sheltered Vichy Jew-killers in France into the 70s and 80s, hiding them in monastaries.

Flunkie: The author has backtracked on some of his claims in Hitler's Pope. But it's certainly disingenious to argue Pius acted only to save Catholics - his deals with Nazi-aligned regimes across Eastern Europe were aimed at winning Catholic conversions at the expense of the Orthodox Church; he seemed quite happy to work with the Croatian Facists who were butchering Serbs, for example (helping sow the seeds of the genocides of the Yugoslavian break-up a couple of generations down the road...). Likewise the alignment of the Catholic Church to the Facist regimes of Spain and Portugal, both guilty of numerous atrocities.

The pope could've, and should've, done more. However, if we're going to point fingers then the protestant movement is just as tainted as the Catholic church, perhaps more so.

I don't notice too many Protestant churches rushing to bestow their highest honours on their members accused of collaboration some 60 years later.
posted by rodgerd at 11:47 PM on December 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Um, weren't millions of non-Jewish people killed too? Perhaps they need a smart Jewish lawyer to present their case.

Yes, there were. I fail to see how this could be considered as making the case against anyone accused of collaboration with the Nazis any less serious, so I'm not sure what your point is.
posted by rodgerd at 11:48 PM on December 1, 2008


There's a wide gap between holding the Pope personally responsible for the Holocaust, which I don't think anyone alleges, and saying that perhaps his actions in collaboration or, to put it more mildly, propitiation, perhaps should disqualify him from sainthood.

Seems like a few people here can't seem to tell the difference.
posted by miss tea at 3:42 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um, weren't millions of non-Jewish people killed too? Perhaps they need a smart Jewish lawyer to present their case.

Smart, Jewish, AND a lawyer? Don't you think you're being a tad redundant? Or maybe redundant's not the word... sorry, what the fuck are you on about?
posted by gman at 3:48 AM on December 2, 2008


To pick on one lousy pope, as if the whole thing rested on his shoulders seems to let the GERMAN PEOPLE (Hitler's Willing Executioners) off the hook.

It does nothing of the sort. The fact that a select few Nazis were actually punished for the atrocities does not mean that the GERMAN PEOPLE as a whole were let off the hook. Similarly, refusing to grant a man an additional honor posthumously does not mean that the wrongdoing of the others is overlooked.
posted by Tullius at 4:01 AM on December 2, 2008


Sure, everyone knew there had been pogroms, and toward the end I think it was becoming clear to people in positions of power that some state-sponsored mass killings had happened in some places, but the idea that there was a massive, reich-wide, systematic, assembly-line genocide would have been hard for normal people of that time to even imagine, let alone discover.

December 17th, 1942, British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden informs the House of Commons of Mass Exterminations of the Jews.


"Mr Eden described how the German authorities, who have already stripped the Jews of their basic human rights, were now carrying out "Hitler's oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe"."
posted by Tullius at 4:08 AM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is being made a saint going to convince the devil to let Pius XII out of hell? I doubt it.
posted by chillmost at 4:26 AM on December 2, 2008


A papal condemnation of the Holocaust in pointed rather than general terms would likely have resulted in more dead Catholics and no fewer dead Jews.

Yeah, any competent pope would tell you how stupid martyrdom for the Jewish people would be.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:33 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


At least one Jew had a different take on the whole thing..

"Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks….

Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."

- Albert Einstein, Time magazine, 23rd December, 1940 p. 38


...Just sayin'.
posted by spirit72 at 5:40 AM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


GuyZero writes: Sainthood seems like a bit of a slippery slope. At first it was really hard to get in. And then they made a lot of people saints retroactively. Now there are so many it seems like an insult to not be beatified.

From the time sainthood became institutionalized in the 12c. it actually became increasingly difficult for a saint to get canonized, at least up through Vatican I. The process came about because Rome wanted to rein in the 'undersupervised' proliferation of cults. Though, naturally, the process also became increasingly politicized to the point where papal allied mendicants and members of aristocratic families had pretty good odds of being canonized if it was politically expedient.

This newer trend where, as you say, "it seems like an insult to not be beatified," seems to me to be related to recent attempts by Rome set itself apart by underscoring the consistent 'holiness' of its leadership, but maybe I'm over-reaching by saying that.

-

resurrexit writes: NEVER considered abortion anything less than a horrible sin.

Here is a nice summary of the historical evolution of doctrine on abortion within the Roman Church.

-

Artw writes: Who was the worst catholic saint?

The worst saint (not listed) is Saint Guinefort.
posted by prosthezis at 6:26 AM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


But he's such a forward thinkin' guy.
posted by gman at 7:45 AM on December 2, 2008


Our Catholic Army at War:
The tough, grizzled Pope Rock and the psalm happy Joes of Easy Diocese slog through every obstacle and dire trial a war can throw at them. “Nuthin’s easy in Easy,” said Rock, the topkick, as he marched off to war and glory against the Nazi menace with Archbishop Bulldozer, Ice Cream Cardinal, Deacon Wildman, Friar Sure Shot, and Father Hot Head.

“And what are the qualifications beyond the whole three miracles thing?”

Two of them can be card tricks.

I’m willing to cut folks some slack. Oh, sure we’d all have been total fuck you hard asses against the Nazi’s yeah? Because we’re all so serious about oppenly opposing genocide and paying with our lives, but sometimes you have to do the underground railroad thing.
Or y’all think it was a coincidence Italy did a 180 in the middle of the war?
However it played out, a lot of Italians risked their lives covering their fellow (Jewish) citizens and taking in refugees. They must have had some means of communication other than the mass media, radios, etc. controlled by the fascist government.
And they must have met somewhere, whether clandestinely or openly. Not saying they absolutely had to do this at a church, but it’s a logical cover.

And there were plenty of anti-clerical governments in Italy before WWII. The Lateran Pacts weren’t signed until 1929 (and Mussolini was a liberal way back when - and Grandi was a leftist) and the popes considered themselves prisoners in the vatican (not literally true of course).
Other than Fascism, the only thing really holding Italy from collapsing again into little separate states was a common religion.

Plenty of things to critizise the catholic church on. This isn’t one. Unless you want to believe the Chick tracts.

If you want to blame someone for complicity for the holocaust (other than y’know, Mussolini), or complicity by silence blame Victor Emanuel.
He didn’t say anything when the racial purity laws were signed and he was pretty much the only one with any real juice in a position to do anything about it.
Still, sometimes standing up openly means you get hammered down.

Insofar as the beatification, meh.
I’ve got a card from the Discordians that says I’m a Pope myself. I s’pose I could print up something that says I’m a saint. Who cares?

“First, the whole place is filled with statues of former Popes... I couldn't help but think, "is this a temple to their god, or to their former church leaders?"”

Kind of like the Hall of Fame in football. You got your Lombardi, your papa bear Halas...
St. Peter is a Bronko Nagurski or Jim Thorpe type of deal as a charter inductee, and they’re running backs types y’know, so you touch their feet.
...maybe I’m straining the metaphor there.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:45 AM on December 2, 2008


I’m willing to cut folks some slack. Oh, sure we’d all have been total fuck you hard asses against the Nazi’s yeah? Because we’re all so serious about oppenly opposing genocide and paying with our lives, but sometimes you have to do the underground railroad thing.

I don't tell people from a position of authority that being killed for your beliefs is a good thing. I can save my own life at the expense of others and remain ethically consistent. Catholics, and especially the fucking Pope, cannot.

However it played out, a lot of Italians risked their lives covering their fellow (Jewish) citizens and taking in refugees. They must have had some means of communication other than the mass media, radios, etc. controlled by the fascist government.
And they must have met somewhere, whether clandestinely or openly. Not saying they absolutely had to do this at a church, but it’s a logical cover.


I'm not willing to give an organization as a whole credit for what some of its members might have done, especially when the organization's leadership were essentially collaborators.

Still, sometimes standing up openly means you get hammered down.

And when you refuse to stand up and get hammered down, it's kind of an indicator that you don't really believe that getting hammered down is the blessed and holy thing that you publicly proclaim it to be.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:40 AM on December 2, 2008


Smedleyman writes "...maybe I’m straining the metaphor there."

Uh, yeah. What's up, guys? The jews and the muslims don't mess around with that stuff, because it's blatant idol worship. You're not fooling anyone, but that's ok. Why not just own it? The Catholic church has spent a metric fuckload of money building awesome idols, and even resurrexit admits the church has no qualms with modifying the scriptures as needed. So just change things around in your bible to say "Make ye no graven images Make ye AWESOME graven images for yourselves, and worship them in a flirty way that says, 'I normally wouldn't worship idols, but you're special.'"
posted by mullingitover at 10:43 AM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


'I normally wouldn't worship idols, but you're special.'

94 more and you can nail it to a door!
posted by GuyZero at 10:50 AM on December 2, 2008


Does this really have to be a "generic bashing on Catholicism" thread rather than a "discussion of the Church and fascism" thread?

I mean, this is me talking here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I apologize, that was the espresso typing.
posted by mullingitover at 10:53 AM on December 2, 2008


I'm not willing to give an organization as a whole credit for what some of its members might have done, especially when the organization's leadership were essentially collaborators.

Unless that action is a bad one, of course, and that organization is the Catholic Church. Then we can shift responsibility all day. I give up.
posted by resurrexit at 11:00 AM on December 2, 2008


Unless that action is a bad one, of course, and that organization is the Catholic Church. Then we can shift responsibility all day. I give up.

What action are you trying to imply?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:01 AM on December 2, 2008


Yeah, we kinda hijacked Marisa's thread.

Personally, I did it for the sulz.
posted by resurrexit at 11:02 AM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, we kinda hijacked Marisa's thread.

Hey, don't sweat it. The subject of the post wasn't even Catholicism and fascism per se; just that, look, there's this former long-dead pope who was either silently complicit with the Nazis, or was fighting fascism behind the scenes, and he's on his way towards sainthood.

But Catholicism is always a fascinating subject to me. I think it's ironic that "Catholic" means "universal", when there are numerous different types of Catholics out there - Catholics totally in line with the Vatican, Catholics who don't recognize Vatican II, Catholics who believe the current pope is a heretic and the seat of Peter therefore vacant, and even Catholics who claim they follow a totally different pope. There's never a shortage of things to discuss when you're talking about Christianity's largest denomination.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:20 AM on December 2, 2008


“I don't tell people from a position of authority that being killed for your beliefs is a good thing”
&
“I'm not willing to give an organization as a whole credit for what some of its members might have done,”

So, no credit for spreading the ethos on risking your life to help others, but blame for not taking the risk openly as a whole and endangering members who do?
That’s ethically consistent?

“And when you refuse to stand up and get hammered down, it's kind of an indicator that you don't really believe that getting hammered down is the blessed and holy thing that you publicly proclaim it to be.”

Since I’ve actually seen genocide firsthand, I can say that most people, y’know, duck. And damn few open their hands much less their houses.

But I’m not defending the hypocracy of the church, I’m saying I understand human nature and not wanting to screw up the guys actually doing the good work.
What was said upthread about pinning a target on the back of catholics is solid.
And, looking at the Pope’s moves from an organizational standpoint - that is - as someone trying to preserve an organization (regardless of stated dogma - could be freemasons, could be model railroad enthusiasts) and given the history there, yeah, smart move keeping your mouth shut.

Further accusations I can’t comment on because I haven’t seen much evidence. I know the history of the conflict and some of the politics, but not so much the Church’s angle.

Someone says this Pope and other members were complicit in some way, I can’t argue. Certainly that would be wrong and they should be held accountable.

But operationally, no, I wouldn’t have made the decision to open defy the Nazis and the fascists as the top executive.
It makes no sense to destroy something in order to preserve it (a’la My Lai) anymore than it does to sacrifice others in order to preserve an organization’s PR.
If I’m operating clandestinely against the Fascists, I’d want the church being neutral so I can look like I’m meeting with a bunch of my fellow catholics (whether I am one or not) rather than conspiring to oppose the government.
Really, there’s not a lot of other places they could have assembled en masse. Everything else was fascist controled, schools, etc.
Churches were instrumental in the underground railroad in the U.S. (again - I’m speaking of churches in general and structure in clandestine operations, not one specific church or, in this case, the catholic church) and lines of communication and social organization were developed in much the same way. And they maintained the same kind of plausible deniablity. “Oh, sure, we’re Baptists, but we’re not ‘those’ kind of Baptists like just over the mason-dixon line there.”

Of course, the Quakers did stand up. And they got the hell knocked out of them. I do respect them though.

But again, your argument is against the hypocrisy of the Catholic church (if I’m reading you correctly), I’d say there’s a plethora of examples of that, as well this instance.

But this sainthood thing....I mean either way I don’t have any buy in. You’ve got the church hiding priests who molested children if you want to talk moral failure.
There’s this ‘maybe/maybe not’ argument with the Nazis. Which, again, organizationally, I understand the moves if you want to survive, maybe give cover to your people.

But sheilding even one guy you know raped a child from the law pretty much invalidates your moral high ground as an organization.

Who the hell would even want high praise from such an outfit?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:30 PM on December 2, 2008


So, no credit for spreading the ethos on risking your life to help others, but blame for not taking the risk openly as a whole and endangering members who do?
That’s ethically consistent?


If you believe that it is sacred to be harmed, persecuted, and killed for your faith, and yet you decline to do so, one must question your committment to holiness.

Since I’ve actually seen genocide firsthand, I can say that most people, y’know, duck.

Good for them. Most people aren't telling the entire world that being hammered down is a good thing, which pretty much every Christian sect preaches.

But I’m not defending the hypocracy of the church, I’m saying I understand human nature and not wanting to screw up the guys actually doing the good work.

Sounds like an excuse to me. "We could totally get martyred and go to Heaven, but instead we'll stick around for awhile to... uh... do good works!

But operationally, no, I wouldn’t have made the decision to open defy the Nazis and the fascists as the top executive.

What a coincidence, neither did Pious.

It makes no sense to destroy something in order to preserve it

Fine, but nobody's talking about that.

anymore than it does to sacrifice others in order to preserve an organization’s PR.

This isn't about fucking PR. This is about the leaders of an organization which claims to be the seat of holiness for a religion which claims dying for your faith is a good thing flat-out declining to do exactly that. The point isn't that it would've been good PR, the point is that if they really believed what they preach, they'd have behaved differently. The Church fathers love to go on about the terrible persecution of Christians and about how the victims are in Heaven, but when given the opportunity to act like they mean it, they decline. So fuck 'em.

If I’m operating clandestinely against the Fascists, I’d want the church being neutral so I can look like I’m meeting with a bunch of my fellow catholics (whether I am one or not) rather than conspiring to oppose the government.

Yep, that's Jesus for you. He was always hiding the extent of his opposition to his political enemies so that he'd be more capable of effectively opposing them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:45 PM on December 2, 2008


I could be wrong here, but I’m not sure he’s actually a saint.

Maybe if he’d stuck around and been pope or something.
posted by Artw at 1:08 PM on December 2, 2008


“If you believe that it is sacred to be harmed, persecuted, and killed for your faith, and yet you decline to do so, one must question your committment to holiness.”

From standpoint of criticising the pope and the church as a religion, I agree.
From the standpoint of organizational leadership, I disagree.
I wouldn’t put SOMEONE ELSE in a position where they will be killed for their faith or have to deny their religion simply because I might think it’s a good idea.

Joe Catholic might think it’s a great thing to die for the faith, but he might have mouths to feed or just lack the courage.
I don’t hold that against him. (So long as he doesn’t kick over my tea wagon for not living the way he thinks I should either.)

Or maybe he thinks it’s a great idea and he’s willing to try it. But that’s not a decision that should be made for him. He shouldn’t be forced into that position.
Again - my point is practical, not ethical.
I oppose the draft on the same grounds. No one should be forced to defend their country. It’s not something that can (or should, if you want to talk ethics) instill.

“Sounds like an excuse to me. "We could totally get martyred and go to Heaven, but instead we'll stick around for awhile to... uh... do good works!”

Really? Care to see the excuses all over my leg? I’ve got some on my back too. Learned quite a bit about human nature. Most people are cowards. You want to go pointing fingers, check yourself first. Been through my own trial by fire, thanks. Learned a lot about clandestine operation as well.

Think the folks on the underground railroads stood up and said “Hey, we’re smuggling slaves to freedom, just you try and stop us!”
The church - whatever. But from the guy actually conducting the slaves or the Italians hiding the Jews, no, I’d want them to keep quiet.

“the point is that if they really believed what they preach, they'd have behaved differently”

Again - the hypocracy of the church, I’m not in contention with.
I don’t much care for being compared with someone who is, in your estimation, a Nazi sympathizer when I try to make a point about method in organization.

Want to clear your head and recognize what I’m trying to say here or you want to continue to insult me?
It’s not like I’m actually disagreeing with you here.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:43 PM on December 2, 2008


From the Jewish virtual library link:

“Pius XII knew that Jewish deportations from Italy were impending. The Vatican even found out from SS First Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein the fate of those who were to be deported.(20) Publicly, the Pope stayed silent. Privately, Pius did instruct Catholic institutions to take in Jews. The Vatican itself hid 477 Jews and another 4,238 Jews were protected in Roman monasteries and convents.(21)”

So, could have done more? Sure. Maybe should have come out publically? Maybe. Hypocrites? Yeah.
But organizationally - avoiding public condemnation served a purpose.
Want to praise them or condemn them for that? Ok.
My only point being as a matter of strategy, as an organization, this was a smart move which did save some lives while minimizing exposure for the people in the field doing the work of hiding folks.
Could operating publically saved more lives? In retrospect, I’d have to say yes.
But looking at the judgement in it’s own time, it was a smart move to remain a clandestine operation (if not ethically consistient) because at the time Germany was kicking the crap out of everyone, the U.S. wasn’t in the war, and the Soviets were allied with the Nazis. The only folks with any real hardware and manpower were the British and they were getting the crap pounded out of them.
So by no means would anyone have thought the war was a done deal meanwhile the Pope had been talking to other countries and moving Jews out so he was doing more than almost any other NGO at the time.
Enough? Whole other deal.
But if the Nazis had won, the church would likely have still been in operation and would still have been able to take in Jewish refugees and maybe get them passports somewhere.
If they openly opposed them, perhaps not.
IMHO he was playing for time.
Perhaps not the most Christ-like move.
But then, Judas was the guerilla, wasn’t he.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:21 PM on December 2, 2008


Hey Smed, we're not arguing, just agreeing loudly. And sure, Pius saved almost 5,000 lives, which is almost 0.001% of the holocaust body count. Gold star. It's not like the church had been spreading hate against the jews for centuries or anything.
posted by mullingitover at 2:49 PM on December 2, 2008


In October of 1943, Germans rounded up thousands of Italian Jews, just outside the the Vatican, where Pacelli could SEE them being rounded up. He said nothing. He did nothing.

Shortly after the Germans began rounding up Italian Jews, Padre Ruffino Niccacci of the Damiano monastery was asked by his bishop to find homes and hiding places for more than 300 Jews just arrived from Trieste.

Padre Niccacci managed to have many of the refugees sheltered in buildings on the monastery grounds and dressed them as monks and nuns to hide their true identities during frequent Nazi searches. Others were placed in parishioners’ homes and blended into the community. Not a single refugee was captured while staying at Assisi. In 1979 Alexander Ramati along with Father Niccacci wrote "The Assisi Underground", a book about this remarkable episode in the Italian resistance.

Father Niccacci was an example of what Pacelli should have, could have done. Sainthood? Bah. The Pope is supposed to be the shepherd of God's flock, which includes ALL people of all creeds.

The pope previous to Pacelli, Pope Pius XI, spoke out strongly against the Nazis, starting in 1938. He was a forceful critic of Fascism and asserted one could not be both Catholic and Fascist.

The Einstein quote...he was talking about XI, not XII.

Pacelli was cut from the same clerical cloth as the current occupant of the pope mobile. They're the Dick Cheneys of the Catholic world, and to even consider beatifying them is an insult to the millions of people who have ever accepted the Eucharist. (Disclosure: I am an ex-Catholic.)
posted by dejah420 at 2:54 PM on December 2, 2008


I think it's ironic that "Catholic" means "universal", when there are numerous different types of Catholics out there

Marisa, not only that:

The Eastern Orthodox Church is the second largest single Christian communion in the world. It has between 225 and 300 million living members worldwide. It is considered by its adherents to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Christ and his Apostles nearly 2000 years ago

As the bolded words come from the Nicene Creed, this must go for all the denominations that follow it.
posted by ersatz at 3:23 PM on December 2, 2008


Eh, pretty much all Christian denominations regard themselves as Jesus's special chosen flock. Nothing unique about that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:35 PM on December 2, 2008


It is considered by its adherents to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Christ and his Apostles nearly 2000 years ago

As the bolded words come from the Nicene Creed, this must go for all the denominations that follow it.


Two things the Eastern Church has over the Catholic one, in my mind:

First, they do not accept the a human being can be infallible. Hence one of the reasons for the first Great Schism. Granted, the roots of this stem from Constantinople not wanting to take orders from Rome, but even today, the Orthodox church is divided by country, each with its own priest under a patriarch - even the Ecumenical Patriarch, the "leader" of all Orthodox Christians, has no direct jurisdiction over other patriarchs or churches. He acts as a mediator between disputing churches and bishops, presides at pan-Orthodox synods, and serves as a "spiritual example" for Orthodox Christians.

Second, Orthodox mass makes Catholic mass seem plain and lackluster.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:00 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


“It's not like the church had been spreading hate against the jews for centuries or anything.” - mullingitover

Well, yeah. But, your gist is what, that saving that small bit of lives was incidental?
That it wasn’t the church’s point to try to save lives? Should they have picked up weapons? Then they’d really be hypocrites (although better for it, in my estimation).

I’m not arguing the church’s standing here.
I’m arguing this from the perspective of what is useful to a resistance movement.
And they did resist. Otherwise why risk even saving 1 Jew?
(And they did hide many in monistaries, et. al. Open opposition would have risked that)

Y’know, I write too damned much, but I think perhaps I’m assuming some knowlege of history.
The Wehrmacht and SS tactic for dealing with resistance organizations was to level the place.
The only state of affairs in which a guerilla can’t hold out is one where the regular opposing forces are willing to commit massive genocide and destroy all cover.

In the Warsaw ghetto uprising for example the Nazis didn’t succeed (I won’t say ‘win’) until they systematically destroyed by fire and explosives the entire ghetto (sewers included).

You lose a big advantage as a resistance fighter if the enemy is willing to destroy the people - all of them - and all the surrounding real estate to get to you.
(And the vatican was most certainly surrounded.)

Appearing to acquiesce is one way to nullify those tactics. You then appear to be part of their people. It’s seduction rather than even oblique confrontation. And once they accept you, you can start to resist.

For example - the Danish government in 1940 capitulated to the Axis and became a ‘model protectorate.’
Were they collaborators?
Well, they had about 8,000 Jews (almost 0.002% of the holocaust body count?)
And for three years the Danes had an underground resistance movement building in strength and organizational resilience while they delayed sending them to the camps.
After the Nazis lost north Africa the underground started operating more boldly and so the Danish government was folded by the Nazis, who then took over and the Jews lost their protection.
So the resistance had to act fast and saved a whole lot of them
(great, but it’s been my experience that if you have to do something ‘heroic’ you didn’t plan far enough in advance or something went seriously awry)
In either case they lost about 500-odd to capture or other death.
Still, valiant and noble effort on their part, but they did pretty much roll over at first.

So, what, no gold star for the Danish government? Or the resistance? Or what? Didn’t do enough?

Point being, it’s not as simple, from the POV of resistance, as it seems. And a lot of folks seem to be asserting that they’d be all up in the Nazi’s faces (in Darfur now are ya? This “you should have done more” crap points both ways). Or that it’s actually better to value selfishness as a virtue and not even try to live to a higher standard. Even if you fail.

The Danish government, as an organization, did the same thing, actually more, than the church did in terms of collaboration.
(But Smedley! the Danish government didn’t say they were trying to be Christ-like, blah blah blah, yeah, we’ve been over that, no contest)

Want to say the catholic church is evil or hypocritical or some such? Whole other conversation as far as my comment goes.
As a religious matter this is an entirely different thing. (But if the catholic church came out and explicitly said “Jews are filthy scum” wouldn’t affect me at all, other than to criticise the comment and be looking for ways to cover my Jewish friends.)

I’m talking about the moves made as a matter of practical resistance of an organization, not whether the church lived up to its principles or whether what the pope did was morally right or wrong.

Hell, the church outright tortured Jews (or ‘secret’ Jews anyway) during the inquisition. That was a holocaust in and of itself.

And I’ve pretty much repeated that being cannonized is, for me, a weightless issue. Were I to have any investment in that issue at all I’d say it was wrong. But again, why should I care if it has no value to me in the first place?

Far as I’m concerned it’s just another organization with its own agenda.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:36 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If we still want to punish someone for the Holocaust, let's bulldoze the whole nation of Germany and sow the ground with salt. THEN, we'll go after the popes.

Uh, dude. May I just say as a descendant of German Jews who emmigrated during the Recent Unpleasantness, who has family who has moved BACK to the homeland and has herself lived in Germany... the German people of today are not the ones who need to be bulldozed. Sure, there are plenty of Nazis with blood on their hands who survived the war and went on to lead normal lives. However, today's Germans are largely their children and their grandchildren and are no more responsible for the Holocaust than any of the rest of us who were not alive at that time. They've done the best that they can to, as a nation, get past a terrible stain on their history and no, they shouldn't be let off the hook easily for what their government did, but nor should they be BULLDOZED. Where on earth would that end? Then, you'd have to bulldoze US for the innocent slaughter of millions of people who weren't even ALIVE when the Holocaust happened. Endless bulldozing. There's no point.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.

Or, you know, just not make them saints.

Seems a bit unlikely when they've already made one POPE.

I still maintain that "Anyone not in the Hitler youth" would have been a better PR move for the Catholic church. I got into a heated debate with someone about "Well, should involvement in the Hitler youth affect your career afterwards? Can't you just move on from something you were forced into? Why should it affect the rest of your life?" And that's a fair point, unless the career move is BECOMING POPE, in which case yes, I feel like it should totally disqualify you.

Like I said, the German people have come a long way, but I don't think it means that anyone who was involved in the Nazi party should have it glossed over.

Imagine what good would've been wrought if they had been pro-life when it counted.

Yes, definitely. People credit Pope John Paul II with helping to bring down communism in the former USSR. Pius XII could easily have spoken out against the Holocaust, which in and of itself would have been enough to make a positive impact.

I also totally, totally agree that he was acting in what he believed was the best interest of German Catholics. I just think that it's not something that's worthy of sainthood.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


People credit Pope John Paul II with helping to bring down communism in the former USSR. Pius XII could easily have spoken out against the Holocaust, which in and of itself would have been enough to make a positive impact.

I think this is an excellent point. John Paul II was staunchly and very openly anti-communist. As a Pole himself, he gave a lot of vocal support to the Solidarity movement and Lech Walesa. About half of eastern Europe is Catholic, so the Pope had every chance to hide behind the excuse of reprisals and keeps his language meek, but he didn't. He also apologized, on behalf of the Catholic church, for the church's inactivity and silence during the Holocaust, among other things. Not saying that makes it a-ok, mind you. Also, it should be noted John Paul II also supported the beatification of Pius XII.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:23 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


John Paul did have U.S. troops between him and the Soviets though.

Second, Orthodox mass makes Catholic mass seem plain and lackluster.

If you chance upon a good cantor, yes. As far as I'm concerned, Lutherans have the best piece of religious music in Bach's St. Matthew's Passion.
posted by ersatz at 7:15 AM on December 3, 2008


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