“The authority of Scripture,” in debates on the Appointment of Protestant Thinking

The Cross : Why have you created the Appointment of Protestant Thinking (RVPP) ?

Pastor Samuel Amédro : Starting from the intuition that it is necessary to help raise a young generation of thinkers, this idea was born out of a frustration vis-à-vis a kind of fragility, of weakness, of what can come at this time in terms of protestant theology. Theologians often think only, it is now rare to see them confront their own thinking of others, even at conferences where the words are juxtaposed, opening finally little to the debate.

→ REPORT. A “new impetus” to the gospel of the protestant Federation of France

We wanted to show that something new can come from the reflection on the gap, as theorized by the philosopher François Jullien believed that when one is asked what one believes or what one thinks, it is good to compare it to something very different, and to measure the path travelled. It is this journey, even from one thought to another which is productive.

All of the trends – lutheran-reformed, evangelical… – thinking protestant are represented at this occasion. This methodology establishes a sort of brotherhood : no one feels on top of the other. Finally, there is also a discussion on the spot, in interaction with the audience, and moments of prayer and conviviality. It is important that people also accept to play something of the spiritual order, and not only intellectual.

What is it that has chaired, this year, at the choice of the theme “The authority of the Scriptures for today : issues and perspectives “ ?

P. S. A : Within French protestantism, a serious crisis has publicly exploded at the time of the synod of the Protestant Church United to France (EPUdF) in Sète (Hérault), who paved the way [en 2015, NDLR] to the blessing of same-sex couples.

It was already a sticking point, but disagreements on the reading and interpretation of the Bible are then crystallized : “This is a decision contrary to the Scriptures, “” he must not be reading too much literal texts “, ” do I have to first question the text, or leave me question for him ? “… This is a sore subject, and it is for this reason that we wanted to work on it.

→ TO READ. “The report in the Bible is dusted among the protestants “

Is it that we still listen to today, the Bible in the world ? Is that interpret is to betray ? Until where to listen to the text, and where the master ? Through all the Churches, the subject, cleaving, opens many questions that we will address in the RVPP. If there are points of blockage – and it is necessary that there is ! – this will mean that there is a real discussion, not hiding, not what everyone thinks.

How to bounce back, at the end of this new session of debates ?

P. S. A : In view of the quality of the texts [accessibles sur le site des RVPP] we have received from the hand of pairs, we can see that there are really things to dig. Likely, so we will keep this theme in the next year, in order to explore finesse this issue.

→ TO READ. Those protestants who are rediscovering the Bible

While the two faculties of theology of Geneva, Lausanne – have joined us this year and that other – Brussels, Kinshasa – have expressed their interest to do so next year, we would like to a priori give us one more year, with new pairs that would occur and would “the no more” to deepen the topic.

At the end of the RVPP, we do no obligation as to the result : we allow ourselves the freedom to publish what we find to be good, but if it is not ripe yet, we will leave the time.


In Poland, a lot of obstacles to overcome for “Laudato si'”

In Poland, local initiatives, the action of the tireless environmentalists franciscans and an important project of Caritas, launched only in 2019, begin to advance the cause of Laudato si’. But an initiative of the magnitude of the episcopate is still waiting.

Several factors have reduced the impact of the encyclical on the Church in the country. The franciscan father Stanisław Jaromi, one of the main authors of a monograph devoted to Laudato si’and the moderator of the ecological Movement of st. Francis of Assisi (REFA), recalled that four days before its publication, a great liberal, Rzeczpospolita, had stated that the Vatican’s encyclical was viewed as ” anti-Polish “. The title : “pope Francis against the coal. Poland has a problem, ” marked the spirits.

The criticism of the encyclical, it is to criticize the pope

“There is nothing anti-Polish in Laudato si’, but when one repeats a lie, there is always something “, the father said Jaromi to The Cross. All that “those who criticize the encyclical are those who do not like pope Francis in general. Among them are priests and bishops “, regrets the franciscan.

“There are, in Poland, fundamentalist forces within the Church, they reinforce and express themselves, especially on the Internet. In general, the media contribute to polarization, do not see the subtleties, so that the pope’s teaching is often complex,” confirms the jesuit Jacek Poznanski, director of the Institute of Philosophy at the university Ignatianum in Krakow and co-author of the monograph.

Also, many of those who have read Laudato si’ have they made an interpretation very political, a call environmentalist to save the environment, forgetting his side, theological ecology, integral and human. “The Church is rather conservative, so that the ecology and the environmental movement are associated with left-wing circles “, the father said Poznanski.

The image of the watermelon

In the clergy, Polish, bloomed the image of the watermelon, “green outside, red inside “. Therefore, the first reaction of the catholic faithful, in 2015, was the astonishment : “Why should the Church care about ecology ? “, recognizes the father Jaromi.

But among those who have received the message of the encyclical, the interest has been keen. Green initiatives have seen the light of day. One of the most important is Caritas Laudato si’ : the project, led by the franciscan Cordian Szwarc, aims to create a national network of facilitators and to encourage local initiatives to promote awareness of the encyclical, and in particular the ecology integral.

Another operation promising is conducted by the Association of young catholics (KSM), which combines a major educational project in concrete actions on the ground such as cleaning of the rivers in a kayak.

In addition to initiatives of local groups, dealing for example of the gardens of the parish. “Much remains to be done, sighs the father Jaromi. It lacks a national program of the Church in the matter, ” he adds. I have talked with Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, president of the episcopate, but he seems to prefer to leave for the moment the place to local initiatives. “


For the Christian Democratic Party, a legal “loophole” would already authorize the resumption of cults

In early May, the Christian Democratic Party (PCD) had already stepped up to denounce ” the threat ” weighing on freedom of worship in France, in the wake of the deconfinement plan presented, Tuesday, April 28, by the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, to the National Assembly. By filing a summary liberty with the Council of State, the right-wing party had strongly contested the government’s decision to extend the ban on public religious ceremonies beyond Monday, May 11, the date of the first phase of deconfinement of the ‘Hexagon. The high administrative court must examine in court, this Friday, May 15, its requests and those of several other associations, including Civitas.

→ READ. Deconfinement, reason for rupture between Emmanuel Macron and the Catholics?

“We believe that the maintenance of this prohibition constitutes an infringement of fundamental freedoms, explain to The cross Jean-Frédéric Poisson, president of the PCD. It also induces double discrimination with regard to freedom of worship, while many businesses are resuming their activities, and Catholic, Muslim, Jewish … religious leaders also consider themselves able to resume with the same health precautions. The second discrimination is geographic; why could cults not be restored in the green departments, not presenting massive risks of spreading the virus? “

An ambiguity in the decree

In recent days, the debate has experienced yet another legal reversal. While the executive has advanced the date of Friday, May 29, the day before Pentecost weekend, for the resumption of worship, the PCD assured, in a statement published Tuesday, May 12, that a measure of Decree No. 2020 –548, published the day before at Official newspaper, would now allow “Holding religious ceremonies in the departments where the prefects will not have prohibited them ”.

The governmental text indeed contains an ambiguity: if its article 10 establishes well that “Establishments of worship, falling under type V [concernant donc les églises, mosquées, synagogues, temples, NDLR] are allowed to stay open. Any gathering (1) or meeting within them is prohibited (…) ”, article 27 stipulates that departmental prefects would have the power to limit the pandemic derogatory “To prohibit any gathering or meeting within establishments of worship (1)”.

Prefects authorized to prohibit what is already prohibited

“This implies that the general ban no longer applies, since the prefects can only ban these celebrations by derogation, and when the health situation justifies it. Let me also explain how it might be possible to authorize prefects to ban what is already, in principle, prohibited! That does not make sense “, he calls, convinced that this interpretation therefore makes it possible to affirm that “Lfreedom of worship becomes the principle again, and its prohibition, the exception in France “. By assuming to play on the implicit, he also underlines that chapter 27 derogates from article 10 of the same decree.

Can we exclude an awkward formulation, or a lack of precision, in the official text? Either there is indeed a line missing in Article 27 to clarify its application, or the latter does not need to be. Buthe government cannot afford, in the context in which we are, to show such amateurism which would push it to write things which it does not want to write “, dismisses the former deputy. The contours of this legal vagueness should be clarified at the hearing scheduled for Friday, May 15, at 2:30 p.m. before the Council of State, which could deliver its opinion early next week.


François and Anne-Laure Peaucelle, new general commissioners of the SUF

A dart shot, thrown on a large map of France, to designate the new commissioners general of the United Scouts of France (SUF) movement? Considered in a humorous staging broadcast on Saturday May 9 on social networks, the hazardous technique – judged “Not very scout” – will have been quickly dismissed, by those responsible for the movement, in favor of a much more thoughtful internal selection process.

And it was on François and Anne-Laure Peaucelle, current regional delegates of the movement in Upper Brittany, that their choice finally came to succeed Pierre and Hélène du Couëdic, general commissioners of the organization since 2016. “This transition, which was announced in mid-May during our National Days – organized for the first time virtually this year because of the pandemic – will take place next November”, specifies Bérangère Savelli, communications manager for SUF.

A couple mission

“The status of general commissioner is particular within our organization, but this mission, like that of group leaders, is being taken more and more as a couple”, she still notes. Parents of five children, all Scouts, François and Anne-Laure Peaucelle live in Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), where they were group leaders from 2011 to 2014. He, 51, is general secretary of a company of pharmaceutical research, and she, 46, is a marriage and family counselor with Raphaël.

“We got into Scouting through our children, and we both really found ourselves in tune with the SUF movement. We wanted to continue this mission in accompanying magnificent itineraries and progressions of young people ”, do they explain to The cross. “Their enthusiasm has been a model for all of us. I am delighted that[ils] have agreed to take on this demanding mission for the next few years. Together, we will make sure to serve the movement, to continue to grow the young people entrusted to us ”, reacted, shortly after their appointment, Benoît de Vergnette, president of the SUF.

“Open to surprise”

Elected by the national council of the movement, the commissioner general’s mission is to support the National Teams, exclusively made up of young people, as well as the group leaders within the organization. “We arrive modestly, and in the continuity of everything that has already been launched: our main role will be to highlight the work of the national teams, who set the pedagogy. We have to be open to surprise, without preconceived baggage ”, continue François and Anne-Laure Peaucelle.

Several strong ideas are particularly close to their hearts in this new mission. Among “Openness to others, in the wake of Pope Francis’ exhortation to be missionary disciples and to join the thresholds of our Churches”, increased concern “Protection of the strongest over the weakest” or the capacity “To marvel at others, at a time when the eyes of others can place very heavy expectations on everyone, and thus arouse a form of disenchantment”.


Charles Ehlinger, great figure of the Catholic edition, carried away by the Covid-19

Charles Ehlinger died on Saturday, May 2, at the age of 92, of the coronavirus that affected him after his general health had deteriorated significantly since last winter. Assumptionist for nearly forty years, he was a remarkable publisher in the religious field. He is notably responsible for many works by the Jesuit François Varillon.

→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest news in France and worldwide on May 4

Born September 15, 1927 in Urbès (Haut-Rhin), he made his first profession with the Augustinians of the Assumption in 1946 and made his final vows in Lyon on November 21, 1950. Ordained priest in Lyon in 1954 after studying philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in theology and scripture, he was responsible from 1959 to 1964 for the year of pastoral training for young priests of several religious institutes and dioceses.

An engaging and influential man

Gifted with a keen sense of discernment, he leaves fond memories for those who approached him. The intellectual curiosity of this hard worker made him a reference. Charles left behind a beautiful and noble life, even if it was not always easy. The concern for truth which always animated him pushed him to courageous decisions, says Father Michel Kubler, assumptionist, former religious editor of The cross. He wielded – without really realizing it – an important influence on many people and a kind of magisterium in the world of religious publishing in his time.

Same emotion for Marc Leboucher, editor at Salvator who was previously responsible for DDB editions: He was a very big publisher, a true birth attendant. Her natural discretion went well with the backstage position inherent in this profession. It was a sharp mind, always kind, but never complacent at work.

A committed publisher

Director from 1964 to 1983 of the Centurion editions which then formed part of the Bayard group (publisher of The cross), Charles Ehlinger put together an impressive catalog of notable books and important authors. He translated the very controversial Dutch catechism (1968), launched the pastoral translation of the Bible in 4 volumes, The Bible of the People of God (1971), as well as the publication of the Acts of the Council with 200 pages of analytical table, thus constituting a first synthesis of Vatican II.

→ READ. Death of Bernard Jouanno, a religious serving the press

A man of encounter and dialogue, he created a collection of interview books with religious or lay people such as the Dominican cardinal Yves Congar, cardinal François Marty, cardinal Etchegaray, but also Alfred Grosser … and Georges Brassens! The author of major interviews himself, he was also a scrupulous translator of works of theology and exegesis in German or English.

He has mainly published successful works that have nourished the spiritual life of thousands of readers, with authors such as François Varillon (The humility of God, then The Suffering of God ; Joy of believing, joy of living; Beauty of the world, suffering of men…), the assumptionist André Sève (30 minutes for God, 1974, Try to love, 1976) or Pierre Talec (Things of faith, 1973).

Crossing the trials

In 1984, after a painful and old reflection on his faith, and after two years on leave from the congregation, Charles Ehlinger renounced “for reasons of conscience” his ministry and religious life without breaking the constant ties with the Church and with the Assumption. He then joined the Desclée De Brouwer (DDB) editions as editor and collection director, until his retirement at the very beginning of the 1990s. Finally in 2005, Charles Ehlinger, published with Michel Kubler, a last book of interviews produced with Mgr Joseph Doré under the title The Grace of Living (Bayard).

After a few years of solitude in the Paris region, he had moved closer to his family in Alsace and settled in Thann (Haut-Rhin). In December 2019, he had to leave his apartment and the thousand pounds he had left to be hospitalized in Oderen, before joining the Ehderen d’Oderen from where he was again hospitalized in intensive care for the last three weeks in Thann.


The Catholic bishop of Broome, Chris Saunders, stands out from the position News in Australia

One of the tallest members of the Catholic Church in Australia, Bishop of Broome Chris Saunders, voluntarily distinguished himself from his position amid serious accusations.

On Wednesday, the archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe, said Saunders “voluntarily moved away” from his position after the Vatican announced an internal investigation into the diocese.

It arrives as reported by Seven News on Wednesday that Western Australian police have investigated allegations of sexual misconduct against the bishop since October 2018. The Guardian confirmed that investigations are underway into a complaint of a historic sexual assault, however no expected charges were filed.

In a report sent on Wednesday night, Saunders vehemently denied the claims. He said: “It is extraordinary. Without any doubt, without reservation, this has never happened and will never happen.”

In a statement, Costelloe said that Saunders had “voluntarily pushed aside” after Rome appointed an “apostolic visitor” to review the management of the diocese of Broome.

Costelloe said that the Vatican made the decision “aware of the particular situation in the diocese of Broome and concerned about the pastoral care of the clergy, religious and lay people in the diocese”.

“In order to allow the apostolic visitor the freedom to fulfill his duties, Bishop Christopher Saunders voluntarily distinguished himself from the ordinary administration of the diocese for the duration of the visit,” Costelloe said in a statement.

An apostolic visitor is an official appointed by the church to conduct what a Catholic official has described as an internal “health check” of the diocese.

In a statement the WA police said they would investigate “any allegation of criminal sexual misconduct”.

“WA police forces will not comment on allegations against specific individuals,” said a spokesman.

Saunders first joined the Broome parish of the Catholic church in 1975 and was appointed bishop in 1995.


George Pell appeal: cardinal’s lawyers say jury was wrong to dismiss defense arguments | News in Australia

High-profile lawyer Bret Walker SC argued that jurors who sentenced Cardinal George Pell for child sexual abuse were wrong to dismiss his defense’s arguments about the improbability of the offense.

On Wednesday morning, Pell’s last chance to appeal his verdict began in front of the bench of seven Canberra judges. The court has yet to grant Pell permission to appeal for his conviction – first, he is listening to Walker’s arguments as to why the appeal should be allowed. You can grant or reject the appeal at any time.

Off the pitch, Pell’s supporters who arrived together on a bus gathered with crosses and a sign saying “We are praying for you, Daddy”. A victim lawyer raised a sign saying “Go to Hell Pell”.

Walker opened by telling the bench, led by the chief judge, Susan Kiefel, that questions about the complainant’s credibility, combined with the improbability of the crime, should have prompted the jurors who sentenced Pell to have reasonable doubt about his guilt. The jury’s perception of the complainant’s credibility should not have convinced them on their own beyond reasonable doubt, Walker said.

Pell was born in the Victorian city of Ballarat.

Pell supports Ridsdale in a court appearance for child sexual offenses. Ridsdale is eventually convicted of abusing over 60 children.

Pell is appointed archbishop of Sydney.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces the royal commission in institutional response to child sexual abuse.

Pell is appointed prefect of the Secretariat for Economic Affairs, in effect the treasurer of the Vatican.

Australian investigators interview Pell in Rome on allegations of child sexual abuse. Pell considers them “absolute and shameful rubbish”.

Pell is accused of multiple sexual offenses.

Pell has been ordered to be tried on multiple charges. Details may not be disclosed at this time for legal reasons. Pell says he will plead guilty. The charges are divided into two trials. The first concerns allegations that Pell sexually abused two choirs in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997. The second concerns allegations that Pell molested boys in Ballarat’s pool in the 1970s.

The jury in the first trial fails to reach a verdict. A mistral is declared.

The new trial jury finds Pell guilty of all the charges.

Pell’s appeal against his conviction for sexual abuse of minors is rejected by the Victorian court of appeal. The appellate court of three judges rejected Pell’s first appeal grounds – which the jury unreasonably acted to find him guilty – by a two-to-one margin. The other two grounds were rejected unanimously. He will remain in prison at least until October 2022.

“It is an extreme mistake for anyone to assume the complainant’s credibility which will provide an answer to the reasonable doubts raised through evidence to which the complainant says nothing,” Walker said.

Judge Virginia Bell told Walker that the high court did not care about credibility, since it was up to jurors to decide. If the court decides to hear the appeal, Bell says it would proceed with the acceptance that “the witness impressed the jury as a true witness”.

Walker said he was “in trouble to point out” that the conviction in a complaint did not eliminate the reasonable coexistence of the defendant’s guilt.

Doubt “… it was not possible to eliminate it [just] because the jury had been clearly affected by the complaint, “Walker said. He said this was due to the fact that the complainant’s evidence, although impressive and credible, did not address issues of doubt raised by the defense, such as the lack of opportunities for offenses to have occurred.

Who is Cardinal George Pell?

Pell was essentially the treasurer of the Vatican and the Holy See in Rome. He has also long been confidant with Pope Francis. Prior to his appointment to the Vatican in 2014, Pell held senior positions within the Catholic Church in Australia, including the Archbishop of Sydney and the Archbishop of Melbourne. He is known for his strong conservatism on issues such as matrimonial equality and abortion. Pell is now also the highest Catholic official in the world to have been convicted of child sexual abuse.

What was he convicted of?

In June 2017 Pell was accused of crimes of sexual assault on minors by the Australian police. Pell took his leave of the Vatican and detached himself from his position to return to Australia and fight the charges, which were divided into two trials. The first group referred to the offense in 1996 in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne when he was archbishop. The second group referred to alleged crimes in a swimming pool while he was a priest in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat in the 1970s.

The trial at the cathedral was held in August and led to a suspended jury. A mistral was declared and the trial was held a second time, starting in November. On December 11 the jury issued a guilty verdict with five charges; a count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four of indecent assault of a child under the age of 16. The convictions refer to Pell’s offense against two 13-year-old choirs.

Why are the details just coming out now?

An order of repression was in place so that jurors in the trial of the second group of alleged crimes were not affected by the reporting of the first trial. But the pool charges were dropped by prosecutors on February 26 after the evidence they relied on to build their case was deemed inadmissible by the judge. As a result, the order of deletion was revoked.

What happens next?

Pell is expected to be sentenced on March 13th. His defense attorney has indicated that his client will appeal. Now that the trial is over, the Royal Commission for Child Sexual Abuse in Australia could also disclose its conclusions regarding Pell, which were drafted when the five-year survey delivered its final report in 2017, in order not to prejudice court proceedings.

The court also addressed the question of whether the Victorian court judges, who rejected Pell’s first appeal with a majority of three to one, may have been unduly influenced by the complainant’s testimony by watching a recorded video rather than simply reading the transcript. Walker said it may have prompted the judges who dismissed the appeal to place too much weight on the evidence of the complaint rather than on the evidence in its entirety.

Pell’s master of ceremonies at the time of the infringement, Charles Portelli, demonstrated during the trial that Pell would remain on the steps of the cathedral after greeting the parishioners for up to 20 minutes. If so, Walker said, Pell would have no chance of offending the sacristy. Prosecutors argued at the trial that while on the steps it became Pell’s custom, it was not yet customary after becoming archbishop in 1996, and other witnesses showed that there were occasions when this meeting could be skipped or shortened.

Walker told the court that the prosecution had not discredited Portelli’s evidence. His evidence was “material on the basis of which it is not possible to eliminate the possibility that the archbishop was on the front steps”. This “forensic” has put a “firm point” on any possibility of offending, Walker said. “This is another point that says it wasn’t open to blame, on balance, beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.

He claimed that it was not the role of the defense to prove that Pell was innocent, but “to demonstrate that there were possibilities that were not excluded from proving that it was not possible to condemn the jury”.

Judge Michelle Gordon asked Walker: “What is the evidence that gives rise to the possibility that it was on the front steps?”

Walker replied that the evidence Portelli and others gave “shows at least the possibility that it was with the archbishop who met and greeted at the opposite end of the cathedral [from] where it was supposed to be at the time of the alleged crime “.

Pell, 78, is serving a six-year prison sentence, with an unconditional three-year and eight-month term. In December 2018, a jury found him guilty of four acts of an indecent act with a child under the age of 16 and a sexual penetration count with a child under the age of 16.

They believed Pell had sexually assaulted two choirs in the priest’s sacristy after the solemn Sunday mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996. Pell orally raped one of the boys, the complainant in the case, during this incident and attacked them indecently. Pell offended a second time against the complainant a month later, when he grabbed the boy’s genitals in a church corridor, once again after Sunday’s solemn mass.

When the complainant spoke to the police in June 2015, the other victim had died of an accidental heroin overdose at the age of 30.

The hearing continues.


The dissimulation of the Vatican archives will finally reveal the truth about “Hitler’s pope” | World news

A new light will be cast on one of the most controversial periods in Vatican history on Monday when the archives on Pope Pius XII – accused by critics of being a Nazi sympathizer – will not be sealed.

A year after Pope Francis announced the move, saying that “the church is not afraid of history”, the documents of the papacy of Pius XII, which began in 1939 on the brink of World War II and ended in 1958, will be opened, initially in a small number of scholars.

Pius XII’s critics accused him of keeping silent during the Holocaust, without ever publicly condemning the persecution and genocide of Jews and others. His defenders claim to have quietly encouraged convents and other Catholic institutions to hide thousands of Jews and that public criticism of the Nazis would have risked the lives of priests and nuns.

“The opening of the archives is decisive for the contemporary history of the church and the world,” said Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, archivist and librarian of the Vatican last week.

Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archive, said that scholars should express a “historical judgment”. He added: “The good [that Pius did] it was so great that it will make the few shadows pale. “Evaluating the millions of pages in the archives would take several years, he said.

Over 150 people have applied to access the archives, although only 60 can be hosted in offices simultaneously. Among the first to view the documents will be representatives of the Jewish community of Rome and scholars of Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

David Kertzer, an American expert on the relationship between the Catholic church and fascism, who will begin reviewing the newspapers this week, said there were “signs of nervousness” in the Vatican about what would emerge from the archives. The Vatican archives allegedly provided an “immense amount of fresh material from millions of pages,” he said Observer.

“On the big question, it’s clear: Pius XII never publicly criticized the Nazis for the mass murder they were committing against the Jews of Europe – and knew from the outset that a mass murder was taking place. Various clerics and others urged him to speak, and refused to do so.

“Although there are many testimonials showing that the church protected the Jews in Rome, when more than 1,000 were gathered on October 16, 1943 and kept for two days adjacent to the Vatican [before deportation to the death camps]Pio decided not to publicly protest or even to send an appeal to Hitler privately not to send them to death in Auschwitz. Hopefully what we will find from these archives is why he did what he did and what discussions took place behind the Vatican walls. “

Mary Vincent, professor of modern European history at Sheffield University, said that many criticisms of Pius Xll lacked nuance. “He was an attentive, austere and unpleasant man who tried to guide a path through almost impossible circumstances. He had a clear vision of what he considered the threat of Soviet communism and his vision of Italian fascism was somewhat softer. But classifying it as good or bad isn’t useful: it’s about the decisions he made and the space he had to make those decisions. “

Pope Pius XII in 1951.

Pius XII in 1951.

Pius – whose birth name was Eugenio Pacelli – was Vatican secretary of state under his predecessor, Pope Pius XI, and a former papal nuncio, or envoy, to Germany. In 1933, he negotiated a concordat between the Catholic church and Germany. After being elected pope, six months before the outbreak of the war, the Vatican maintained diplomatic relations with the Third Reich and the new pontiff refused to condemn the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.

In December 1942, Pius XII spoke in general terms of the suffering of the Jews, although he had known for several months about the Nazi extermination plans. In 1943 he wrote to the bishop of Berlin, claiming that the church could not publicly condemn the Holocaust for fear of causing “greater evils”.

Hitler Pope, a controversial biography of Pius XII by British author John Cornwell, published in 1999, stated that the pope was an anti-Semite who “was not taken out of moral outrage at the plight of the Jews.” He was also narcissistic and determined to protect and advance the power of the papacy, the book claimed. Pius XII was “the ideal pope for Hitler’s unspeakable plan. He was Hitler’s pledge. He was Hitler’s pope”.

Cornwell’s claims have been contested by some scholars and authors. He later admitted that Pius XII had “a field of action so small that it is impossible to judge the reasons for his silence during the war”, although the pontiff never explained his position.

In 2012, Yad Vashem changed the text of an exhibition on the papacy of Pius XII, from “did not intervene” to “did not publicly protest”. The new text acknowledged several assessments of the pope’s position and Yad Vashem said he “looks[ed] waiting for the day when the Vatican archives will be open to researchers so that we can arrive at a clearer understanding of the events “.

Pope Benedict, Francis’ predecessor, in 2009 declared that Pius XII had lived a life of “heroic” Christian virtue, a step towards possible holiness. But in 2014 Francis said that no miracle – a prerequisite for beatification, the last step towards canonization – had been identified. “If there are no miracles, he cannot go on. He is stuck there,” said Francis after visiting Yad Vashem. Last year, Francis said that Pius XII had led the church during one of the “saddest and darkest periods of the 20th century”. He added that he is confident that “serious and objective historical research will allow for evaluation [of Pius] in the correct light “, including” appropriate criticism “.