"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Aleteia: Meet the Only Nun Sentenced to Death by a Nazi Court

Defiant Sister Maria Restituta hung crucifixes on the walls of her hospital, and wouldn't take them down

LARRY PETERSON APRIL 12, 2016
Source: Aleteia


Sister Maria Restituta began Lent of 1942 under arrest. She was taken on Ash Wednesday. Her crime: “hanging crucifixes.” She was sentenced to death. The following year, on Tuesday of Holy Week, she was executed.

May 1, 1894, was a happy day for Anton and Marie Kafka. Marie had just given birth to her sixth child and mom and daughter were both doing fine. The proud parents named their new baby girl Helena. Devout Catholics, Anton and Marie had Helena baptized into the faith only 13 days after her birth.

The ceremony took place in the Church of the Assumption, in the town of Husovice, located in Austria. Before Helena reached her second birthday, the family had settled in the city of Vienna.

Helena was a good student and worked hard. She received her First Holy Communion in St. Brigitta Church during May of 1905 and was confirmed in the same church a year later. After eight years of school she spent another year in housekeeping school and, by the age of 15, was working as a servant, a cook, and being trained as a nurse.

At age 19, she became an assistant nurse at Lainz City Hospital. This was Helena’s first contact with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and she was immediately moved to become a sister herself, and on October 23, 1915, became Sister Maria Restituta. She made her final vows a year later and began working as a nurse.

By the end of World War I, Sister Restituta was the lead surgical nurse at Modling Hospital in Vienna. She had never heard of Adolf Hitler and could never have imagined that one day, because of this man, her beloved nation would be annexed into the German Republic.

On March 12, 1938, the Austrian Nazi Party pulled off a successful coup d’etat taking control of the government. The unforeseen and unimagined had come to pass, and Hitler now controlled the once proud Austrian nation.

Sister Restituta was very outspoken in her opposition to the Nazi regime. When a new wing to the hospital was built she hung a crucifix in each of the new rooms. The Nazis demanded that they be removed. Sister Restituta was told she would be dismissed if she did not comply.

She refused. The crucifixes remained on the walls.

One of the doctors on staff, a fanatical Nazi, would have none of it. He denounced her to the Party and on Ash Wednesday, 1942, she was arrested by the Gestapo as she came out of the operating room. The charges against her included, “hanging crucifixes, and writing a poem that mocked Hitler.”

The Nazis promptly sentenced her to death by the guillotine for “favouring the enemy and conspiracy to commit high treason.” They offered her freedom if she would abandon the Franciscans she loved so much. She adamantly refused. Although many nuns lost their lives in the extermination camps, Sister Restituta would be the only Catholic nun ever charged, tried, and sentenced to death by a Nazi court.

An appeal for clemency went as far as the desk of Hitler’s personal secretary and Nazi Party Chancellor, Martin Bormann. His response was that her execution “would provide effective intimidation for others who might want to resist the Nazis.” Sister Maria Restituta spent her final days in prison caring for the sick. Because of her love for the crucifix — or rather, the One who was died upon it — she was beheaded on March 30, 1943.

The day she died happened to be Tuesday of Holy Week. She was 48 years old.

Pope John Paul II visited Vienna in 1998 and there beatified Helena Kafka, the girl whose destiny was service. She was declared Blessed Maria Restituta. She had learned how to serve others extremely well. But the One she served best of all was her Savior. She gave Him her life.

Blessed Marie Restituta, please pray for us.

Larry Peterson is a Christian author, writer and blogger who has written hundreds of columns on various topics. His books include the novel The Priest and the Peaches and the children’s book Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes. His latest book, The Demons of Abadon, will become available during the spring of 2016. He has three kids and six grandchildren, and they all live within three miles of each other in Florida.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This Agnostic Scientist Converted After Witnessing a Miracle at Lourdes

Source: ChurchPop

Alexis Carrel was born into a Catholic family in a small town in France in 1873. He attended Mass regularly and went to Catholic schools run by Jesuits. Unfortunately, by the time he went to college he was an agnostic. He completely rejected the Catholic faith and wasn’t even sure if there was a God.

However, he wouldn’t stay that way. And an extraordinary miracle from Lourdes helped lead him back.

As an agnostic, Carrel studied biology and medicine and went on to become a world famous scientist. He developed a way to allow organs to live outside the body, a huge step toward organ transplants, and he developed new techniques for cleaning wounds. Most importantly, though, he invented techniques for suturing large blood vessels, which earned him a Nobel Prize in 1912.

This is why his opinion about alleged miracles at Lourdes mattered so much.

Although the original apparitions at Lourdes had occurred in 1858, people in the early 20th century (as they are today) were still claiming to be cured by the water there. Despite the large number of alleged cures, the French medical establishment was firmly against the possibility that anything supernatural was happening.

Carrel himself was also a strong skeptic. That is, until he met a girl named Marie Bailly.

He was on a train to Lourdes with a doctor friend to see the hysteria for himself in 1902 when he came across Bailly, who apparently had something called tuberculous peritonitis. It was a fatal disease. She was only half-conscious and had a swelled belly. Trying to help, Carrel gave her morphine, but said he didn’t think she’d even survive the rest of the trip to Lourdes. Other doctors on the train came to the same conclusion.

When they arrived, her friends carried her to the grotto, and three pitchers of water from Lourdes was poured on her. With each pour, she said felt a searing pain throughout her body. To the amazement of the doctors present, her belly started to flatten back to a normal size almost immediately and her pulse returned to a normal rate.

By that evening, she was well enough to eat a normal dinner.

The scientist in Carrel didn’t know what to make of it all. He had to admit that everything he knew about medicine made it seem like her cure was indeed miraculous. But he knew that publicly claiming to have witnessed a miracle would ruin his career. So he just stayed quiet about it all. He didn’t even want people to know he had gone to Lourdes.

However, Bailly’s cure quickly became national news. News outlets reported that Carrel had been present, but that he didn’t think there was anything miraculous about what happened. This wasn’t exactly accurate, so he was forced to publish a public reply. In it, he scolded religious believers for generally being too quick to claim something unusual was miraculous, but he also criticized the medical establishment for ruling out the possibility of miracles, saying that Bailly may indeed have been cured miraculously.

This was a public scandal! How could someone so steeped in science and so accomplished in medicine say that Bailly’s cure might have been miraculous? His career in France was over. Unable to work in hospitals any longer, he moved to Canada, and eventually the United States. He joined the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research in New York and spent the rest of his career there. (Marie Bailly, for her part, joined a convent.)

So he had been convinced the woman’s cure could have been miraculous – what did that mean for him spiritually?

He didn’t know what to do with it exactly, since fully admitting to himself that he had witnessed a true miracle at Lourdes would require him to rethink his religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

It took him 25 years of working it out in his heart and mind, but finally, in 1939, he decided to meet with a Catholic priest in order to seriously consider returning to the Church. They became friends, and three years later he announced, “I believe in the existence of God, in the immortality of the soul, in Revelation and in all the Catholic Church teaches.”

And just two years after that, he died. But not without receiving Last Rites on his deathbed.

God had brought him back just in time.

Pray for Alexis Carrel, may he rest in peace!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

YES! JESUS WAS BORN IN DECEMBER 25! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

In one his articles in a local broadsheet, Rev. Fr. Ben San Luis, SVD, in my opinion publicly conceded to one or two lists of objections raised by Protestant anti-Catholics on the issue of Jesus' birth date.

My source HERE

Since December 25 as the birth date of our Lord Jesus IS NOT a doctrine, it is always open to friendly and intelligent discussion (by experts only). Therefore no ordinary Catholic should accuse Fr. Ben of schism or declare his opinion 'anathema'. 

Below is Dr. Taylor Marshall's brilliant defense on WHY ALL CATHOLIC MUST not succumb to historically unfounded Protestant objections on Jesus' birthdate (DECEMBER 25). His argument is more plausible compared to Fr. Ben's opinion. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Yes, Christ Was Really Born on December 25: Here’s a Defense of the Traditional Date for Christmas
by Dr Taylor Marshall


The following is adapted from Taylor Marshall’s new book: The Eternal City: Rome & and Origins of Catholic Christianity.


The Catholic Church, from at least the second century, has claimed that Christ was born on December 25. However, it is commonly alleged that our Lord Jesus Christ was not born on December 25. For the sake of simplicity, let us set out the usual objections to the date of December 25 and counter each of them.

Objection 1: December 25 was chosen in order to replace the pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia. Saturnalia was a popular winter festival and so the Catholic Church prudently substituted Christmas in its place.

Reply to Objection 1: Saturnalia commemorated the winter solstice. Yet the winter solstice falls on December 22. It is true that Saturnalia celebrations began as early as December 17 and extended till December 23. Still, the dates don’t match up.

Objection 2: December 25 was chosen to replace the pagan Roman holiday Natalis Solis Invicti which means “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.”

Reply to Objection 2: Let us examine first the cult of the Unconquered Sun. The Emperor Aurelian introduced the cult of the Sol Invictus or Unconquered Sun to Rome in A.D. 274. Aurelian found political traction with this cult, because his own name Aurelian derives from the Latin word aurora denoting “sunrise.” Coins reveal that Emperor Aurelian called himself the Pontifex Solis or Pontiff of the Sun. Thus, Aurelian simply accommodated a generic solar cult and identified his name with it at the end of the third century.

Most importantly, there is no historical record for a celebration Natalis Sol Invictus on December 25 prior to A.D. 354. Within an illuminated manuscript for the year A.D. 354, there is an entry for December 25 reading “N INVICTI CM XXX.” Here N means “nativity.” INVICTI means “of the Unconquered.” CM signifies “circenses missus” or “games ordered.” The Roman numeral XXX equals thirty. Thus, the inscription means that thirty games were order for the nativity of the Unconquered for December 25th. Note that the word “sun” is not present. Moreover, the very same codex also lists “natus Christus in Betleem Iudeae” for the day of December 25. The phrase is translated as “birth of Christ in Bethlehem of Judea.”[i]

The date of December 25th only became the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” under the Emperor Julian the Apostate. Julian the Apostate had been a Christian but who had apostatized and returned to Roman paganism. History reveals that it was the hateful former Christian Emperor that erected a pagan holiday on December 25. Think about that for a moment. What was he trying to replace?

These historical facts reveal that the Unconquered Sun was not likely a popular deity in the Roman Empire. The Roman people did not need to be weaned off of a so-called ancient holiday. Moreover, the tradition of a December 25th celebration does not find a place on the Roman calendar until after the Christianization of Rome. The “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” holiday was scarcely traditional and hardly popular. Saturnalia (mentioned above) was much more popular, traditional, and fun. It seems, rather, that Julian the Apostate had attempted to introduce a pagan holiday in order to replace the Christian one!

Objection 3: Christ could not have been born in December since Saint Luke describes shepherds herding in the neighboring fields of Bethlehem. Shepherds do not herd during the winter. Thus, Christ was not born in winter.

Reply to Objection 3: Recall that Palestine is not England, Russia, or Alaska. Bethlehem is situated at the latitude of 31.7. My city of Dallas, Texas has the latitude of 32.8, and it’s still rather comfortable outside in December. As the great Cornelius a Lapide remarks during his lifetime, one could still see shepherds and sheep in the fields of Italy during late December, and Italy is at higher latitude than Bethlehem.

Now we move on to establishing the birthday of Christ from Sacred Scripture in two steps. The first step is to use Scripture to determine the birthday of Saint John the Baptist. The next step is using Saint John the Baptist’s birthday as the key for finding Christ’s birthday. We can discover that Christ was born in late December by observing first the time of year in which Saint Luke describes Saint Zacharias in the temple. This provides us with the approximate conception date of Saint John the Baptist. From there we can follow the chronology that Saint Luke gives, and that lands us at the end of December.

Saint Luke reports that Zacharias served in the “course of Abias” (Lk 1:5) which Scripture records as the eighth course among the twenty-four priestly courses (Neh 12:17). Each shift of priests served one week in the temple for two times each year. The course of Abias served during the eighth week and the thirty-second week in the annual cycle.[ii]However, when did the cycle of courses begin?

Josef Heinrich Friedlieb has convincingly established that the first priestly course of Jojarib was on duty during the destruction of Jerusalem on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av.[iii]Thus the priestly course of Jojarib was on duty during the second week of Av. Consequently, the priestly course of Abias (the course of Saint Zacharias) was undoubtedly serving during the second week of the Jewish month of Tishri—the very week of the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of Tishri. In our calendar, the Day of Atonement would land anywhere from September 22 to October 8.

Zacharias and Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist immediately after Zacharias served his course. This entails that Saint John the Baptist would have been conceived somewhere around the end of September, placing John’s birth at the end of June, confirming the Catholic Church’s celebration of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24.

The second-century Protoevangelium of Saint James also confirms a late September conception of the Baptist since the work depicts Saint Zacharias as High Priest and as entering the Holy of Holies—not merely the holy place with the altar of incense. This is a factual mistake because Zacharias was not the high priest, but one of the chief priests.[iv]Still, the Protoevangelium regards Zacharias as a high priest and this associates him with the Day of Atonement, which lands on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri (roughly the end of our September). Immediately after this entry into the temple and message of the Archangel Gabriel, Zacharias and Elizabeth conceive John the Baptist. Allowing for forty weeks of gestation, this places the birth of John the Baptist at the end of June—once again confirming the Catholic date for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24.

The rest of the dating is rather simple. We read that just after the Immaculate Virgin Mary conceived Christ, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. This means that John the Baptist was six months older that our Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 1:24-27, 36). If you add six months to June 24 you get December 24-25 as the birthday of Christ. Then, if you subtract nine months from December 25 you get that the Annunciation was March 25. All the dates match up perfectly. So then, if John the Baptist was conceived shortly after the Jewish Day of the Atonement, then the traditional Catholic dates are essentially correct. The birth of Christ would be about or on December 25.

Sacred Tradition also confirms December 25 as the birthday of the Son of God. The source of this ancient tradition is the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. Ask any mother about the birth of her children. She will not only give you the date of the birth, but she will be able to rattle off the time, the location, the weather, the weight of the baby, the length of the baby, and a number of other details. I’m the father of six blessed children, and while I sometimes forget these details—mea maxima culpa—my wife never does. You see, mothers never forget the details surrounding the births of their babies.
Now ask yourself: Would the Blessed Virgin Mary ever forget the birth of her Son Jesus Christ who was conceived without human seed, proclaimed by angels, born in a miraculous way, and visited by Magi? She knew from the moment of His incarnation in her stainless womb that He was the Son of God and Messiah. Would she ever forget that day?[v]

Next, ask yourself: Would the Apostles be interested in hearing Mary tell the story? Of course they would. Do you think the holy Apostle who wrote, “And the Word was made flesh,” was not interested in the minute details of His birth? Even when I walk around with our seven-month-old son, people always ask “How old is he?” or “When was he born?” Don’t you think people asked this question of Mary?

So the exact birth date (December 25) and the time (midnight) would have been known in the first century. Moreover, the Apostles would have asked about it and would have, no doubt, commemorated the blessed event that both Saint Matthew and Saint Luke chronicle for us. In summary, it is completely reasonable to state that the early Christians both knew and commemorated the birth of Christ. Their source would have been His Immaculate Mother.

Further testimony reveals that the Church Fathers claimed December 25 as the Birthday of Christ prior to the conversion of Constantine and the Roman Empire. The earliest record of this is that Pope Saint Telesphorus (reigned A.D. 126-137) instituted the tradition of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Although the Liber Pontificalis does not give us the date of Christmas, it assumes that the Pope was already celebrating Christmas and that a Mass at midnight was added. During this time, we also read the following words of Theophilus (A.D. 115-181), Catholic bishop of Caesarea in Palestine: “We ought to celebrate the birthday of Our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen.”[vi]

Shortly thereafter in the second century, Saint Hippolytus (A.D. 170-240) wrote in passing that the birth of Christ occurred on December 25:

The First Advent of our Lord in the flesh occurred when He was born in Bethlehem, was December 25th, a Wednesday, while Augustus was in his forty-second year, which is five thousand and five hundred years from Adam. He suffered in the thirty-third year, March 25th, Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, while Rufus and Roubellion were Consuls.[vii]

Also note in the quote above the special significance of March 25, which marks the death of Christ (March 25 was assumed to corresponded to the Hebrew month Nisan 14 – the traditional date of crucifixion).[viii] Christ, as the perfect man, was believed to have been conceived and died on the same day—March 25. In his Chronicon, Saint Hippolytus states that the earth was created on March 25, 5500 B.C. Thus, March 25 was identified by the Church Fathers as the Creation date of the universe, as the date of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Christ, and also as the date of the Death of Christ our Savior.

In the Syrian Church, March 25 or the Feast of the Annunciation was seen as one of the most important feasts of the entire year. It denoted the day that God took up his abode in the womb of the Virgin. In fact, if the Annunciation and Good Friday came into conflict on the calendar, the Annunciation trumped it, so important was the day in Syrian tradition. It goes without saying that the Syrian Church preserved some of the most ancient Christian traditions and had a sweet and profound devotion for Mary and the Incarnation of Christ.

Now then, March 25 was enshrined in the early Christian tradition, and from this date it is easy to discern the date of Christ’s birth. March 25 (Christ conceived by the Holy Ghost) plus nine months brings us to December 25 (the birth of Christ at Bethlehem).

Saint Augustine confirms this tradition of March 25 as the Messianic conception and December 25 as His birth:

For Christ is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.[ix]

In about A.D. 400, Saint Augustine also noted how the schismatic Donatists celebrated December 25 as the birth of Christ, but that the schismatics refused to celebrate Epiphany on January 6, since they regarded Epiphany as a new feast without a basis in Apostolic Tradition. The Donatist schism originated in A.D. 311 which may indicate that the Latin Church was celebrating a December 25 Christmas (but not a January 6 Epiphany) before A.D. 311. Whichever is the case, the liturgical celebration of Christ’s birth was commemorated in Rome on December 25 long before Christianity became legalized and long before our earliest record of a pagan feast for the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. For these reasons, it is reasonable and right to hold that Christ was born on December 25 in 1 B.C. and that he died and rose again in March of A.D. 33.

Taylor’s new book The Eternal City also makes an argument in defense of the traditional BC/AD dating as being 100% accurate.

______________________________________________

[i] The Chronography of AD 354. Part 12: Commemorations of the Martyrs. MGH Chronica Minora I (1892), pp. 71-2.
[ii] I realize that there are two courses of Abias. This theory only works if Zacharias and Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist after Zacharias’ second course – the course in September. If Saint Luke refers to the first course, this then would place the birth of John the Baptist in late Fall and the birth of Christ in late Spring. However, I think tradition and the Protoevangelium substantiate that the Baptist was conceived in late September.
[iii] Josef Heinrich Friedlieb’s Leben J. Christi des Erlösers. Münster, 1887, p. 312.
[iv] The Greek tradition especially celebrates Saint Zacharias as “high priest.” Nevertheless, Acts 5:24 reveals that there were several “chief priests” (ἀρχιερεῖς), and thus the claim that Zacharias was a “high priest” may not indicate a contradiction. The Greek tradition identifies Zacharias as an archpriest and martyr based on the narrative of the Protoevangelium of James and Matthew 23:35: “That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar.” (Matthew 23:35)
[v] A special thanks to the Reverend Father Phil Wolfe, FSSP for bringing the “memory of Mary” argument to my attention.
[vi] Magdeburgenses, Cent. 2. c. 6. Hospinian, De origine Festorum Chirstianorum.
[vii] Saint Hippolytus of Rome, Commentary on Daniel.
[viii] There is some discrepancy in the Fathers as to whether Nisan 14/March 25 marked the death of Christ or his resurrection.
[ix] Saint Augustine, De trinitate, 4, 5.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

CNS News: Acclaimed Atheist Poet Becomes Catholic: 'My Tears Just Stopped'

By Mark Judge | November 30, 2016
For CNS News

Poet Sally Read (Ignatius Press/
Used with permission)
“If you’re there, you have to help me.”

Those are the words that poet Sally Read said to an icon of Jesus in 2010. Read, a British poet and atheist, had stopped into a church in Santa Marinella, Italy. She felt burdened. Her young daughter was having health issues. Her husband Fabio was enduring some stress at work.

“There was this incredible experience where this presence almost came down, and my tears just stopped, just dried,” Read tells CNSNews.com. “I felt almost physically carried up. It was as if someone walked into the room. I knew this person. I knew that I was a Christian.”

Up to that point Read, now 46, had been an atheist. “I was brought up an atheist,” Read notes in her just-published memoir, “Night’s Bright Darkness: A Modern Conversion Story.” “At ten I could tell you that religion was the opiate of the masses; it was [driven] into me to never kneel before anyone or anything…As a young woman I could quote Christopher Hitchens and enough of the Bible to scoff at.”

Read was born in 1971 and raised in Suffolk, England. As a young woman she worked as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital and became a critically acclaimed poet, winning the Eric Gregory Award in 2001. A few years later Read married an Italian man, Fabio, and the couple, along with new daughter Florenzia, moved to Santa Marinella, a town 30 miles from Rome.

In her 30s and raising her daughter, Read began working on a book on women’s health and sexuality. Wanting to interview a wide swath of women for the book, Read contacted orthodox Catholic women. When the women declined to be interviewed, largely due to the graphic nature of Read’s subject matter, Read approached a Byzantine-Catholic priest, Fr. Gregory Hrynkiw, for advice. Fr. Gregory and Read became friends, with the priest answering questions the author had about faith.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Miss Universe Donated to Caritas Manila

Photo Source: Inquirer Online

STAR POWER Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle thanks Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach for her donation of cash and goods for Caritas Manila's Bazaar. Story on http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/852814/pia-wurtzbach-pays-courtesy-call-on-cardinal-tagle

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Catholic Herald: BBC admits it underestimated the Church’s opposition to Hitler

By Dan Hitchens for Catholic Herald
posted Friday, 9 Dec 2016

BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London (PA)
The BBC conceded it was false to describe the Church as being 'silent' in the face of Nazism

The BBC’s internal watchdog has found that a programme wrongly accused the Catholic Church of “silence” about the Holocaust.

After Pope Francis’s visit to Auschwitz in July, BBC One’s 6pm news bulletin carried a report which stated: “Silence was the response of the Catholic Church when Nazi Germany demonised Jewish people and then attempted to eradicate Jews from Europe.”

In response, the cross-bench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool and Fr Leo Chamberlain, the former headmaster of Ampleforth, made an official complaint.

Nearly six months later, the BBC’s editorial complaints unit has now concluded that the item was unfair. According to the unit, the BBC reporter “did not give due weight to public statements by successive popes or the efforts made on the instructions of Pius XII to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution, and perpetuated a view which is at odds with the balance of evidence.”

Pope Pius XII, who was the pontiff during World War II, has been accused of silent acquiescence to the Holocaust, most famously by a 1999 book, Hitler’s Pope, which sparked a major controversy among historians. Its author, John Cornwell, has since backed down on some of his claims.

In a blog post criticising the BBC report, Lord Alton pointed out that several historians had praised Pius’s achievements in the fight against Nazism. The peer quoted Pinchas Lapide, a Jewish historian and Israeli diplomat, as saying that Pius XII “was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands.”

Through its diplomatic network, the Holy See under Pius XII helped Jews to travel safely out of Eastern Europe. It also issued baptismal certificates to Hungarian Jews to help them escape. Thousands of Jews were also sheltered in the Vatican itself.

Lord Alton quoted the Jewish Chronicle’s praise of Pius (“Such actions will always be remembered”) and Albert Einstein’s remark in 1940 that “only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth … I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.”

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