Wanted: Pius Testimonials

Relevant to “A Rabbi Looks at Pius XII” (Weekly Book Pick, June 11-17):

The historical record shows that Pope Pius XII, through his network of apostolic delegates throughout the world, was able to save the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

As early as April 4, 1933, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli ordered the apostolic nuncio in Berlin “to intervene with the government of the Reich on behalf of the Jews and point out all the dangers involved in an anti-Semitic policy.” The Catholic Church, therefore, did not simply protest on behalf of Church interests during negotiations of the Concordat, but protested on behalf of persecuted Jews when the new Hitler regime announced a major boycott of Jewish businesses.

During World War II, in Castel Gandolfo alone, there were more than 10,000 refugees who were protected and cared for by Pius XII, who was only interested in saving people and did not keep lists of the Jews who were saved.

In order to obtain the title “Just Among the Nations” for Pius XII from Yad Vashem in Israel, two testimonials are needed from people of Jewish extraction who can testify that they knew Jews (or heard about Jews) who were saved by the Pope. Their testimony must be notarized.

Please mail the testimonial to Sister Margherita Marchione, 455 Western Ave., Morristown, NJ 07960, or fax it to (973) 539-9327. It will then be forwarded to Israel.

Sister Margherita Marchione, mpf

Religious Teachers Filippini

Morristown, New Jersey

Pro-Life Politicking

Congratulations on your excellent editorial “Let’s Be Honest” (June 25 - July 1), defining the terms pro-life, anti-abortion, pro-choice and pro-abortion in the political realm — and responding to letter-writers criticizing the Register report “Pro-Life Gains at Risk” (June 4-10). Some said the Register was biased and unfair by referring to Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., as pro-life and his Democrat opponent, Robert Casey Jr., as “nominally pro-life.”

This is the election season, and the letter-writers were obviously supporting their candidate, Casey, and objecting to your objective assessment of Sen. Santorum’s performance as senator.

A few points should be kept in mind in this discussion. First, just as none of us is perfect, there is no perfectly pro-life politician. Although we dearly need more pro-life politicians, people should not expect that politicians are the only ones who are going to restore respect for life. Actions directed by prayer are the most effective way.

Santorum is close to perfect because of his legislative record, but his support of pro-abortion Sen. Specter as a fellow Republican against a pro-life opponent in the primary election was revolting.

Second, a Sen. Casey who would filibuster pro-life judges is not “nominally pro-life”; he is pro-abortion.

Third, just about all elected Democrats are pro-abortion because they refuse to pass legislation at the federal and state levels that would provide women with information about fetal development and the many health risks abortion presents — increased risks of sterility and other physical problems, increased risks of numerous psychological disorders and increased risk of breast cancer. Even Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, speaking on a matter other than abortion, said, “... having a choice is meaningless if important information about health risks is withheld.”

Casey is not perfect and, if elected, he will be forced by the Democratic leadership to toe the pro-abortion Democrat Party line.

John Naughton

Silver Spring, Maryland

Benedictine Blessings

Joseph Pronechen’s article “Domestic Benedictines: St. Benedict’s Rule Works for Families, Too” (July 9-15) was excellent. The beautiful accompanying photo shows the statue of St. Walburga at our sister monastery, the Abbey of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale, Colo., while the caption describes their community.

I would like to point out that our community, St. Emma Monastery in Greensburg, Pa., is a group of 13 contemplative Benedictine nuns. We, too, were founded by nuns from St. Walburga’s monastery in Germany. We are on the Web at stemma.org, while the Colorado abbey is at wallburga.org.

Families, groups or individuals who are planning a trip to a Benedictine community, or just want more information, can visit osb.org. Here they will find a listing of communities, easy ways to locate a monastery, e-mail addresses of monasteries and additional information on Benedictines. It is a wonderful resource.

Thank you very much for your consideration. May God bless you.

Mother Mary Anne Noll, OSB

Prioress, St. Emma Monastery

Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Death, Doctrine, Discord

For all of the wonderful legacies left to us by Pope John Paul II, I fear that one of the unfortunate ones is a murky ambiguity regarding the current state of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty (“Death and Doctrine” and the editorial “Benedict’s ‘Well Done,’” July 9-15).

I don’t believe Church teaching can be developed or changed by omission. It is quite clear that retributive justice has been a traditional basis in Catholic thought for bestowing justifiability upon use of the death penalty. If retributive justice has now been completely forbidden on an absolutist basis by two supreme pontiffs, then the faithful are in need of an official, comprehensive magisterial document — one explicitly recognizing that retributive justice has an historical justification, that such a basis is no longer allowed, and the reasoning for such a change.

Additionally, such a document devoted to the death penalty should also make clear the latitude of acceptable prudential variances of thought that can be held to on the basis of the death penalty still having an admissibility rooted in ensuring the safety of society.

I think all need to exercise great caution on this issue at this time and not indifferently lump all death penalty supporters in with supporters of legalized abortion.

Robert Barnett

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Not Much Super About This Man

Relevant to “Does the World Need a Savior?” (June 25-July 1):

Director Bryan Singer took some serious liberties in Superman Returns. He effectively remakes Superman out of existence.

Originally the heroic protector of both physical and moral American ideals, Superman becomes instead the archetypal 21st century guy. Entangled in typical modern and murky personal struggles and issues, and credited with some serious falls (like knocking up Lois Lane and then leaving her high and dry for five years), Superman was made “just like everyone else” but for his unusual physical powers.

Rather than a champion of the American way, of truth and justice and right, of defense of the weak from the wicked, Singer’s Superman is a hypocrite, a man more resembling a soap-opera star than a hero. His face-off with the villain Lex Luthor was like a sideshow to his struggles with Lois Lane.

What is so maddening about this flick is how noiselessly it has passed for an authentic superhero remake, with almost every reviewer: This new Superman is no superhero, and the movie felt more like a tragedy.

People need heroes, today more then ever. And not just sports heroes, either, touting their amoral physical prowess as the end-all of heroism (which is the taste of heroism this Superman remake leaves in your mouth). We need to be told of people who personify the things we love and want to believe in, but are forever losing sight of in our everyday lives: justice, truth, love, sacrifice, goodness, mercy.

Superman’s physical strength is only an outward manifestation of his inner strength — an integrity passed on to him by his father, but now unable to be passed on from the new Superman to his illegitimate progeny (though this movie’s replica ending tries to let him do just that).

I thought perhaps real heroes had returned to the Hollywood screen. Not this time. Save your money, friends.

Alycia Polce

Charlotte, North Carolina

All of a Piece

Interesting, I think, that your issue of July 9-15 should have juxtaposed opinion columns on music, the Mass, Scripture, the Constitution and G.K. Chesterton. There is a thread of commonality linking these. It is this: Words and music have meaning that must be guarded closely, or else our heritage — as Catholics, as Americans — will be lost.

Your Letters page reflected approbation for Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a return to traditional music, especially Gregorian chant and, conversely, a turning away from the awful psycho-eco-babble music that focuses, horizontally, on ourselves, rather than vertically, on heaven and on God.

Part 3 of Mark Shea’s series on reading Scripture’s words (“Scripture Means What It Says”) offered invaluable insight into how God’s inspired writings must of necessity be interpreted only in accord with the Tradition of the Church. That there are now more than 30,000 individual Protestant churches with contesting views of interpreting Scripture speaks to the danger of the narcissistic impulse that says that Scripture means different things to different people.

Continuing that line of reasoning, the column by Donald DeMarco on America’s 230th birthday (“Decoding the Constitution”) quotes Chesterton: “Real development is not leaving things behind, as on a road, but it is to draw life from them, as from a root.” 

I would say that the Register has again proven its worth — defending Tradition.

May all of us look to Holy Mother Church as Jesus’ only sure guide to life. If we do, we will not go astray. The ongoing struggles within the Church and within America are, in a sense, all of a piece. Although I am not at all sure that the outcome of the struggles over our nation’s future shall prove favorable, we can all rest assured that God’s Holy Spirit — sent by Jesus — will continue to right the course of the One, the True, the Holy, the Catholic, the Apostolic Church established on earth by Jesus as our only Rock of salvation.

God bless you, and God bless your readers.


John G. Boulet, m.d.

Austin, Texas

Help Caritas Help Christians

After reading “Christians Caught in Gaza Crossfire” (July 16-22), a number of readers called in to ask how to contribute to Caritas, the Vatican’s relief organization. The group is on the web at caritas.org. It can be reached by phone at (+39) 06 698 797 99 or by e-mail at caritas.internationalis@caritas.va. And, of course, its important work can be prayed for any time and any place.

— Editor