Cardinal Bertone: Pius XII Was Friend of Humanity

Recalls His Efforts in Favor of Peace

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MONTEFIASCONE, Italy, DEC. 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's secretary of state says Pope Pius XII was a "sincere friend of humanity and a faithful servant of the Church" who is today unjustly vilified.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said this Sunday at an event marking the conclusion of the anniversary of the Pontiff's death, Oct. 9 1958.

The prelate dedicated his homily to the figure of this Pope and his efforts to promote peace during the Second World War, not only invoking an end to the violence, but also working for it, specifically "giving refuge to Jews who fled the Nazi fury."

Just days before Christmas, the cardinal recalled another very different Christmas -- that of 1942 when the Pontiff delivered a radio message making an urgent appeal for peace.

"In [the message], he indicated to the world the five essential points for constructing peace on solid bases in a new society: recognition and protection of the rights and dignity of the human person, the centrality of the family, the dignity of work and just salaries, legal security through a just legal system, and a concept of the state at the service of the person," Cardinal Bertone noted.

But, he said, Pius XII "did not limit himself to proclaiming the need for peace, but rather he brought about a recognized and intense charitable activity in favor of the families affected by the tragic military events."

In the same way, Cardinal Bertone added, "when the persecution against the Jews was unleashed, he gave precise and urgent orders to Catholic institutions in Rome so that they would open their doors to men, women and children, who were saved thanks to the courage and sensitivity of the Pope and the Church."