Judeo-Catholic Panel Has Its Limitations, Scholar Warns

Judeo-Catholic Panel Has Its Limitations, Scholar Warns - Andrea Riccardi Says Bipartisan Commission Can't Resolve Historical Problems

ROME, OCT. 26, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- The commission studying the role of Pius XII during World War II is limited by its very nature, a scholar cautions.

Andrea Riccardi, professor of contemporary history in Rome's Third University, aired his warning after hearing about the criticisms published Wednesday by the French newspaper Le Monde, relating to the work of the Judeo-Catholic Commission.

"I am upset to see the reactions of the Jewish historians of the commission created by Cardinal Edward Cassidy," he said, "although I did not expect a positive result because I do not believe that historical problems are resolved in a bipartisan commission."

"I think that the bilateral, diplomatic method must not be applied to historical research," Riccardi continued. "On the contrary, it is done through in-depth study, enlarging the sources, discussing, and organizing an important congress among scholars."

He added, "The 11 volumes, 'Actes et Documents du Saint Siège Relatifs à la Second Guerre Mondiale,' which include all the documents of the archive relating to the activities of the Holy See during the Second World War, have been an important acquisition of historiographical culture.

"I, myself, have used them a lot. ... However, we know that historiography has taken a biased critical line. We know the critical evaluation of some Jewish scholars. There must be respect for pluralism, but there cannot be sensationalism as practiced by John Cornwell, and I hope it will not be the position of our Jewish colleagues. There is need to study, but more from the position of historians.

"Instead, we are faced with a historiographical debate at the international level imposed in a manic way in regard to Pius XII. Considered in life as one of the highest interpreters of the needs and aspirations of his time, since the early '60s especially, Pope Pacelli [Pius XII] has been the object of attacks that have caused arguments both over his political action as well as the value of his entire spiritual magisterium."

--Q: Little is said, for example, of how much the Jews thanked Pius XII for his aid and charity activities.

--Riccardi: I remember that Cardinal Traglia told me how, at the end of the war, the Jews wanted to see the Pope to thank him.

In 1976 I published the book, "The Church of Rome During the Resistance," where I refer to the ecclesiastical hospitality during the occupation of Rome, which is one of the most striking aspects of the participation of the ecclesiastical world in the events lived by that part of the Roman population most scourged by the conflict.

There were many Roman ecclesiastical organizations that offered shelter in their establishments. A history also confirmed recently by Forcella, who was certainly not Catholic.

--Q: What is your opinion of Pius XII?

--Riccardi: I think this figure must be researched, discussed, studied in depth, but history is neither a court nor a diplomatic negotiation. Pius XII's history will not be made with attorneys or with office defenses. Work must be done on the documents, sources must be studied in depth.

Historians must necessarily pause for reflection in order to make progress in research and study. Otherwise, one runs the risk of committing enormous errors like those of John Cornwell, who turned a simple report into "proof" of Pacelli's anti-Semitism. ...

Papers must be studied carefully; biased simplifications cannot be made -- even though we live in a world of terrible simplifications. ... History is not about judging but about understanding." ZE00102602

ZEN - Zenit
26. oktober 2000

av Webmaster publisert 27.10.2000, sist endret 27.10.2000 - 11:25