June 17, 2008

Events marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII, the World War II pope

VATICAN CITY, (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present two initiatives to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Pope Pius XII: a congress on his Magisterium and a photographic exhibition.

Participating in the conference were bishop Salvatore Fisichella, rector of Rome's Pontifical Lateran University; Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda S.J., rector of Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University; Msgr. Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper, and Giovanni Morello, president of the Foundation for the Artistic Patrimony and Activity of the Church.

Referring to Pius XII and the years of his pontificate (1939-1958), Bishop Fisichella highlighted the Pontiff's "great stature, especially in spiritual terms, but also intellectually and diplomatically."

"Various different historical situations of great significance came together in the life of Pius XII," he said: "the genocide of the Jews, the communist occupation of various Christian nations, the Cold War, new advances of science, and the innovations of certain schools of theology."

Bishop Fisichella pointed out that, although many aspects of the pontificate have already been studied, "what remains largely unknown is Pius XII's influence on Vatican Council II." In this context, he mentioned the 43 Encyclicals "which marked his pontificate, and the many discourses in which he examined the most controversial questions of his time.

"In this Magisterium,",Bishop Fisichella added, "it is easy to identify certain particular traits which we may summarise in three points: firstly the promotion of doctrine, the definition of the dogma of the Assumption in 1950 being particularly memorable; ... secondly defending doctrine and indicating errors," such as in the Encyclical Humani Generis of 1950 where Pope Pius examines "the serious problem of theological relativism. ... Finally," said Bishop Fischella, "Pius XII never failed to make his voice heard clearly and explicitly when circumstances required it."

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