Thursday, 10 June 2010

Pius XII's Letter to US President Roosevelt

 "Spare Innocent Civil Populations and in Particular Churches"

 VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2010 ( Here is the previously unpublished letter sent by Pope Pius XII to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Aug. 30, 1943, after one of the several bombings of Rome by the Allied Forces.

 * * *

 Your Excellency,

 Recent events have naturally focused the worlds attention for the moment on Italy, and much has been said and written on what policy she would or should now follow for her own best interests. Too many, we fear, take for granted that she is entirely free to follow the policy of her choice; and we have wished to express to Your Excellency our conviction that this is far from true. Of her desire for peace and to be done with the war, there can be no doubt; but in the presence of formidable forces opposing the actuation or even the official declaration of that desire she finds herself shackled and quite without the necessary means of defending herself.

 If under such circumstances Italy is to be forced still to bear devastating blows against which she is practically defenseless, we hope and pray that the military leader will find it possible to spare innocent civil populations and in particular churches and religious institutions the ravages of war. Already, we must recount with deep sorrow and regret, these figure very prominently among the ruins of Italy's most populous and important cities.

 But the message of assurance addressed to us by Your Excellency sustains our hope, even in the face of bitter experience, that God's temples and the homes erected by Christian charity for the poor and sick and abandoned members of Christ's flock may survive the terrible onslaught. May God in His merciful pity and love hearken to the universal cry of his children and let them hear once more the voice of Christ say: Peace!

 We are happy of this occasion to renew the expression of our sincere good wishes to Your Excellency.

 From the Vatican, August 30, 1943

 Pius PP XII


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Personal Memories of Pius XII

Interview With Sister Margherita Marchione

By Carmen Elena Villa

ROME, JUNE 7, 2010 ( The future Pope Pius XII enjoyed spending his summer vacations at the beach of Santa Marinella.

Last Saturday, a bronze bust of him was placed at that beach, to honor the World War II Pope and all the "righteous of the world."

Before being placed at the site, the bust was presented to Benedict XVI. The honor of this task was held by Sister Margherita Marchione, of the community of Religious Teachers Filippini. She is one of the world's principal biographers of Pius XII.

"So many pictures were taken of me in a few seconds," Sister Marchione recounted to ZENIT while she looked at the images of her brief meeting with the Pontiff.

This nun, born the daughter of Italian immigrants in New Jersey in 1922, has a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University. In the last 15 years, she has published 10 book in English and Italian on Pius XII.

ZENIT: You met Pius XII. What was this experience like?

Sister Marchione: I met him in fact in St. Peter's Basilica in 1957; I came to Rome with his niece Elena Rossignani Pacelli. He approached us. We were in the first row. I held his hands in mine and kissed them, and spoke with him. He asked me questions. He wanted to know what I was doing in Rome. I was already a sister, but young, in a certain sense. I explained to him that I traveled and did research. I was writing my thesis on the poet Clemente Rebora. He asked me about the family. He gave me his blessing. It was such an impressive occasion for me that I can still see it again. He spoke to me as if we were friends of many years. I was struck by his kindness, his smile. The emotion I experienced, the impressions I have from this meeting are precious, indelible memories, which I have had my whole life. In fact, he exuded holiness.

ZENIT: Why did you decide to become Pius XII's principal biographer?

Sister Marchione: In 1995, almost 40 years after my meeting with Pius XII, I was here in Rome for a general chapter and I learned that our sisters, the Religious Teachers Filippini, saved 114 Jews in three convents of Rome. I was amazed and I said: How come? These are things that no one speaks about, that no one writes about. I learned this by chance. I became interested in Pius XII. I spoke with the sisters [involved] who were still alive and I was impressed by the work they -- as so many other Italians -- had done to hide the Jews. On my return to America, I began to be interested in the issue, I interviewed Jews who had been our guests and I wrote a first book. I have [now] written 10. I was able to interview some persons who had suffered, who
were here in Rome during that period. I abandoned all my other interests and I began to write only about Pius XII.

ZENIT: How were the sisters of your community able to hide the Jews?

Sister Marchione: The sisters in all the convents were very courageous in hiding Jewish women. Even if bread was lacking for themselves, they gave half of what they had to these women. There were 60 Jewish women. If the Nazis had not believed the sister who said that no one was there, not only these women but also the sisters who were hosting them would all have been sent to Auschwitz. Hence, much courage was needed. I admired what they did and I wanted to make these facts known.

ZENIT: Other works of yours speak of Pius XII's silence.

Sister Marchione: Yes. Some Jews accuse him of silence, but it isn't true. His silence was prudent. He did everything possible to save the Jews, it could be said "behind the scenes." He could not start to fight America, England, Germany, the Russians. In the book "Architect of Peace" I reported important documents. Pius XII's charitable work was universal, magnanimous, assiduous and, above all, paternal in Christian terms, in the most profound sense of the term.

Pius XII maintained a diplomatic network in the Vatican during the whole war. He was personally interested in every human case made known to him. Young people and old went to him to receive help and to find dispersed relatives. Innumerable requests arrived daily from all countries worldwide, and all received his attention.

To make possible correspondence with prisoners' families, he instituted the Office of Information for Research, a unique archive that contained information on prisoners of war. The task of Holy See employees [there] was to inform the families on the state of prisoners.

ZENIT: What do you think of the negative judgments of Pius XII?

Sister Marchione: History must tell the truth, that the Catholic Church saved more than 5,000 Jews in Rome alone. It is a disgrace not to recognize it. For me it is necessary to tell the truth. In these books I have wished to make known Pius XII's virtues, the theological and cardinal virtues. I will give a few examples: He ate very little, he did not drink alcohol or mixed it with water during meals, he did not eat deserts, he was very mortified and had a strong character. He demonstrated he had faith, hope and charity.

ZENIT: Can you tell us about this Pope's personality?

Sister Marchione: He had the gifts of the Holy Spirit to a heroic degree, with all the virtues, theological and cardinal. He was prayerful -- a serene, tranquil person dedicated to every duty as Pontiff. By nature he was a timid person, and preferred tranquil environments. Gentleness as opposed to severity, persuasion as opposed to imposition. He was very humble and sincere, for him everyone was equal. I remember him as a saint, that's all.


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Mount Sinai is Karkom in Israel's Negev, not in Egypt's Sinai Peninsular

By STEVE LINDE    05/30/2010

‘I‘m sure Karkom is the real mountain of God,’ Prof. Emmanuel Anati declares. ‘Israel should be proud.’

It has taken him more than a decade, but Italian-Israeli archeologist Prof. Emmanuel Anati now believes his controversial view that the biblical Mount Sinai is in Israel’s Negev desert rather than Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula will soon be adopted by the Vatican.

On Friday, he presented his theory in the form of a new book at a seminar at the Theological Seminary in the northeastern Italian city of Vicenza.

“Actually it’s not a theory, it’s a reality. I’m sure of it, Anati told The Jerusalem Post by telephone from his home in Capo di Ponte. “My archeological discoveries at Har Karkom over many years and my close reading of the Bible leave me with no doubt that it is the real Mount Sinai. I’m now sure that Karkom is the real mountain of God.”

In 2001, Anati published the English edition of a book that was first issued in Italian two years earlier and titled The Riddle of Mount Sinai – Archaeological Discoveries at Har Karkom. In the book, he postulated that Karkom, 25 km. from the Ramon Crater, was probably the peak at which Moses received the Ten Commandments – and not the summit in southern Sinai where Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine’s Monastery) stands.

“I know this is revolutionary,” he conceded. “I’m not only changing the location, but I’m moving Mount Sinai to Israel, and I’m sure it will anger the Egyptians. But Israel should be proud of this. The Negev is empty and  should be developed.”

“I’m also changing the date of the Exodus from Egypt to some 1,000 years earlier than previously thought,” he added. “I know this will drive everyone crazy. But I am right. I’m sure of it.”

Anati reasoned that if the account in the Book of Exodus was historically accurate, it must refer to the third millennium BCE – and more precisely to the period between 2200 and 2000 BCE.

Jewish tradition puts the Exodus around the year 1313 BCE. According to Catholic tradition, Helena of Constantinople – the mother of Emperor Constantine credited with finding the relics of Jesus’s cross – determined the location of Mount Sinai and ordered the construction of a chapel at the site (sometimes referred to as the Chapel of Saint Helen) in about 330 CE.

According to Anati, however, an abundance of archeological evidence showed that Mount Karkom had been a holy place for all desert peoples, and not just the Jews, which substantiated his case.

He said more than 1,200 finds at Karkom – including sanctuaries, altars, rock paintings and a large tablet resembling the Ten Commandments – indicated that it had been considered a sacred mountain in the Middle Bronze Age. In addition, he said, the topography of its plateau perfectly reflected that of the biblical Mount Sinai.

Finally, he concluded, the biblical tale clearly backed up his geographic argument.

“When the Children of Israel left Egypt, they reached the Arava. They couldn’t have been in Santa [Catarina], because it says in the Bible that they reached Nahal Tzin, and moved on to Hebron,” Anati said. “The whole story of receiving the Torah must have taken place in the Negev. The Children of Israel wandered in the north and not the south, in the Negev and not the Sinai.”

He was just as certain that the Holy See would officially sanction his stance, and that millions of Catholic pilgrims could soon be visiting Mount Karkom instead of Mount Sinai.

“Actually, they have already accepted my theory,” he said. “They are already organizing pilgrimages. There is already a plan, and I have meetings scheduled with theologians and others, including the Vatican pilgrimage office. They want to start pilgrimages to Karkom as soon as next year.”

Anati said he was aware that he had his detractors, especially among archeologists in Israel, several of whom were interviewed refuting his claims on a Channel 1 Mabat Sheni documentary aired on Wednesday night.

“I know there are all kinds of people – including professors – who resist my theory, and it’s natural that this occurs,” he said. “I urge them all to read my book and study the evidence before criticizing me.”

Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Israel Finkelstein, a world-renowned expert on the subject, said he could not accept Anati’s hypothesis.

“I do not see any connection between the third millennium BCE finds at Har Karkom and the Exodus story. The latter was put in writing not before the 7th or 6th centuries BCE, and as such depicts realities which are many centuries later than the finds of Har Karkom,” Finkelstein told the Post. “Roaming the desert with the Bible in one hand and the spade in the other is a 19th-century endeavor which has no place in modern scholarship.”

Anati said it had taken the Catholic Church several years to be persuaded by his argument, and recognition had been a slow process.

“About three-and-a-half years ago, I had a telephone call from the Vatican that a priest of high standing wanted to meet with me, and he arrived here with a driver. I live 500 km. from Rome, and he sat with me for a whole day and asked me a lot of questions,” Anati recalled.

“Then he disappeared, and after about a year, a group of theologians from the Catholic Church appeared and wanted to investigate the matter more deeply. Seven theologians sat here for the whole day, and I later met with them four times.

“Six months ago they spent four days with me at  Karkom, and as a result of this, the Vatican publisher –  Edizioni Messaggero Padova – asked me to write up my findings. I revised and updated my book, and they have now published it in Italian, changing the title to The Rediscovery of Mount Sinai.”

“Twenty years ago, I had a hunch that Har
Karkom was the real Mount Sinai,” Anati said.
“Three years ago I was convinced I was correct. Today I know I’m right.”

There was no official Vatican response to Anati’s claims, nor was there an immediate reaction from the Egyptians.

Anati was born in Florence in 1930 to Jewish
parents, and soon after the establishment of Israel, he moved to Jerusalem and received a bachelor’s degree in archeology from the Hebrew University. He later became a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard and was awarded a doctorate at the Sorbonne.

Fluent in Hebrew, he taught prehistory at Tel Aviv University and conducted extensive research in the Negev.

Upon his return to Italy, he founded the Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici in Capo di Ponte in 1964, and he remains its executive director today. It is believed to be the only institute in the world that specializes in prehistoric art.

Anati’s study of rock paintings in Valcamonica
spurred UNESCO to include the alpine valley in its list of World Cultural Heritage sites.

Tal Gottesman contributed to this report.