Theologian Calls Latest Pius XII Controversy "Artificial"

Cardinal Cottier Assails What He Labels Calumny

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ROME, JAN. 13, 2005 ( The theologian of the Pontifical Household described as “artificial” and “disagreeable” the controversy that followed the manipulation of a historical document attributing alleged anti-Semitic attitudes to Pius XII.

The debate arose when the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera on Dec. 28 published a 1946 document that it attributed to the Holy Office.

The document, according to Il Corriere, instructed bishops and priests not to return Jewish children that the Church had baptized and saved from the Holocaust, to their original families.

However, when another newspaper, Il Giornale, published the original document, it was clear that Il Corriere was mistaken about the document’s author, date and content. The document was, in fact, from the apostolic nunciature in France.

In statements to the Italian agency AdnKronos, Cardinal Georges Cottier, theologian of the Pontifical Household, referred to the controversy triggered by the Italian press as “a disagreeable episode, which has only caused an artificial controversy.”

“The search for the historical truth is not helped by fueling controversies and suspicions,” he added.

The controversy, which impinges on the reputation of Pius XII, “must be judged in a severe manner,” said Cardinal Cottier.

“It is a calumny to make public the suspicion that Pius XII acted, at the height of World War II, moved by anti-Semitic feelings,” affirmed the theologian, a close aide of John Paul II and former secretary of the Historical-Theological Commission of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

“To accuse Pope Pius XII of anti-Semitism is unjust and undue,” the Swiss cardinal said. “And the accusations that for some time have been launched against the person of Eugenio Pacelli go beyond the field of historiography and enter that of sterile controversy.”

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