Daily Archives: October 9, 2008

Pius XII: What do we need to do?

While rejoicing that Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen of Haifa was invited to speak to the Synod of Bishops (read his address here and see pictures here), I must say that I am disappointed that he is still of the opinion that Pius XII in some way betrayed the Jewish people during the dark years of the Shoah.

By a strange twist of fate, today is both Yom Kippur and the 50th anniversary of the late Pontiff’s death.

Today I listened to a couple of very good reports on the question of Pius XII’s war time record from Vatican Radio. These include:

Interview with Fr Gumpel, relator of the cause for the beatification of Pius XII.
Comments by Pope Benedict at the end of a symposium on Pius XII, by Pave the Way Foundation

I also have a much longer Vatican Radio program, which unfortunately is no longer on their website, in which they play recordings of his Christmas announcements, including the 1942 message in which he condemned the persecution and near extinction of peoples simply on the basis of their race. He has been criticised for the fact that this pronouncement did not specifically mention the Jews, but his intended audience did not misunderstand him. The Gestapo reported to their master:

“in a manner never known before…the Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order. It is true, the Pope does not refer to the National Socialists in Germany by name, but his speech is one long attack on everything we stand for. …Here he is clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews.”

That is only one example.

It is sad that his name is still maligned today, 50 years after his death, when most of those who so malign him have done no study of the matter at all, but simply listen to the myth. Interestingly, this program points out that very few people have asked for access to the now available archival records for the period leading up to the war itself.



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The other Debating Hall – The Synod of Bishops on the Word of God

While the debate on the abortion bill continues here in Victoria, we ought not lose sight of the important event in the Vatican at this time, the 12th Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.

There, Bernie-Finn-style filibustering is totally out of order – in fact, each bishop gets to make a 5-minute intervention – and his microphone is turned off exactly at the 5 minute mark!

There are some interesting things already coming out of this, such as Rabbi Cohen’s comments about Pius XII’s WWII record in the memory of the Jewish people (today is both Yom Kippur and the 50th anniversary of the late pontiff’s death – a separate blog about this in a minute), but also the fact that (HT to Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia) this is the first meeting to have a blogging-bishop participant!

Yes, folks, you can get an insider’s perspective by going to the World Synod of Bishops blog belonging to Tucson Arizona Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas. Here’s a taste:

I found my seat — section II, row G, seat 14 — right in the center of the hall. The guidelines for the Synod are most interesting. They state that delegates are expected to be at every session no matter what. If you want to be excused, you need to see the General Secretary and you have to state your excuse. (I think we might have to introduce that note for our priest and vicariate gatherings.) The message was clear: presence matters.

(I have been wondering how many members of the Legislative Council have sat out the full 4.5 hours of Bernie’s filibustering!).

Interestingly, he came across our own Bishop Michael Putney:

Bishop Michael Ernest Putney of Townsville in Australia talked with me about the importance of preparing our lectors to proclaim the Word effectively. He told me about a young man who was an actor who proclaimed the Word so eloquently at Mass that people listened more attentively than usual. People thought his eloquence was because of his acting ability, but in talking with him afterward, the young man said that in preparing himself to proclaim God’s Word as a lector that he fasts. That is what made his proclamation so engaging. He was living the Word he read.

For those who like their reporting a little more conventional, there is always John L. Allen Jnr.

Also providing an insiders look at the Synod is Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the Vatican’s English-language press attaché for the 2008 world Synod of Bishops. His reports are being covered by Zenit as the “Synod Diary” in their daily issue (the first three can be found here (Day One), here (Day two), and here (Day Three). A funny story about the technology glitches at the beginning:

Yesterday and today the synod fathers tried out the newly installed electronic voting machines, which revealed a number of glitches that need to be ironed out. The malfunctions gave way to much humor in the assembly as the audience was told several times by some unseen voice booming through the sound system: “Those on the left (sinistra) are not voting properly.” Or, “the patriarchs are not registering.”

Even the Pope seemed to enjoy the humorous moments as he watched his brother bishops from throughout the entire world attempt to use the “new technology” that wasn’t delivering!

Well, funny by Synod of Bishop’s standard!

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What the human mind can rationalise…

Bernie Finn’s still going for it in the Legislative Council against the Abortion Law Reform Bill. He just said that he went down to the shops and saw a packet of cigarettes with “Smoking harms unborn babies” written on it. Yes, they do, he said. And by law that warning has to be put on every packet of cigarettes. He went on:

And I know something else that hurts unborn babies. And you know what? WE’RE LEGISLATING FOR IT!

This is good stuff… Pray that someone listening to him is convinced enough to change their vote on this wretched bill.



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The other marathon reading…

Bernie is still talking in the Legislative Council [actually, they’ve taken a breather and gone for lunch, he will resume again at 2pm – no end in sight yet], but we pause to remember that other “marathon reading” – the reading of scripture from begining to end mentioned here.

And here is the video of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, kicking the whole thing off with the reading from Genesis 1 – literally “opening the word”!


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