Book Recounts Edith Stein's Opposition to Nazism

Saint Asked Pope to Intercede

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ROME, JUNE 10, 2005 ( Philosopher Edith Stein so opposed Nazism that she wrote a personal letter to Pope Pius XI that described how Jews and Catholics were being persecuted.

The letter, made public in 2003 when the Vatican Secret Archives were opened, is the topic of the book «Edith Stein e il Nazismo» (Edith Stein and Nazism), published by Città Nuova.

The book, edited by Philippe Chenaux and Angela Ales Bello, both professors of the Lateran University in Rome, analyzes the letter, its context and repercussions.

In the letter, Stein (1891-1942), a convert to Catholicism, described herself «as daughter of the Jewish people that by the grace of God has been for eleven years daughter of the Catholic Church.»

She also said that the Jews were not the only victims of Nazism. «The war against Catholicism develops stealthily and with less brutal systems than against Judaism, but it is also systematic,» she said.

«All of us, who witness the present German situation as faithful children of the Church, fear the worst for the worldwide image of the Church herself, it the silence is prolonged further,» the letter states, which the book includes in its original German version and Italian translation.

Bello commented to ZENIT that, more than an act of resistance, the future saint’s letter to the Pope was a «request to the Pope for an authoritative intervention. What this saint of Jewish origin and patroness of Europe really wanted was an encyclical.»

In fact, four years later the Pope wrote the encyclical «Mit Brennender Sorge» (1937).

The new book analyzes the historical situation and philosophical questions on Stein and Nazism. Stein authored numerous philosophical, anthropological and pedagogical books, such as «Science of the Cross» and «Finite Being, Eternal Being.»

She entered the Carmelite convent in 1934, taking the name of Sister Benedicta of the Cross, and died in Auschwitz on Aug. 9, 1942.

Edith Stein was canonized in 1998, and declared patroness of Europe, along with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bridget of Sweden, in 1999.

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