There is a highly interesting article penned by Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini in the recent edition of 30Giorni. For Copyright reason, only several excerpts are reproduced here. To read the article in full, please go to the online edition of 30Giorni.
Cardinal Siri, in the Synod Hall of the Vatican, in the presence of John Paul II, on 8 October 1983, said: “If we study the indices of Vatican II, one can easily see that after those taken from Holy Scripture, the most numerous quotations are those derived from the writings of this Pope”
(1) “In fact, while the convocation and holding of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council are rightly regarded as a happy and extraordinary initiative taken for the renewal of the life of the Church of our time by John XXIII, too often one ignores or fails to stress that Vatican II was carefully and diligently prepared by Pius XII from immediately after his election. That is why the final documents of the Council contain 201 quotations from or references to 92 acts of the Magisterium of his pontificate2. Solely in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium there are 58 citations referring to the Magisterium of Pius XII.
Our late dear friend and priest, Father Giovanni Caprile S.J., in his monumental work on Vatican II, wrote that “also under Pope Pius XII the idea of convening a council surfaced again, and several steps in preparing it were made”. For these steps Father Caprile cites documents, some of which, at that time, altogether unpublished.”
(2) It is quite usual, for example, to speak of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes as the Council document most open to dialogue with the contemporary world. One ignores or forgets that in 1950 the text of a Concilii oecumenici declaratio authentica was already prepared, which must be considered a precursor of the contents of the future schema 13 which became Gaudium et spes.
It is enough to read it to realize such7. Moreover, as to concern for issues and problems of contemporary society, Pius XII enhanced, through particular initiatives, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, founded on 28 October 1936 by Pius XI. It is the only academy of sciences of a supra-national and single-class character existing in the world. Pontifical academicians are selected without discrimination from the eminent scholars of mathematical and experimental sciences of each country. And among them, also in the days of Pius XII, there were distinguished Jewish scholars.
(3) In his Magisterium Pius XII wanted to eliminate claims of incompatibility between faith and science. No scientific congress of high and highest level was held to which he did not devote a perfectly informed speech, illuminating to the point of amazing the distinguished representatives of science. Speeches that he wrote personally and prepared, starting some, such as those for Holy Christmas, even months beforehand, after asking that the bibliography and all the latest information on the topic to be dealt with be provided to him. Sometimes, when he had to face subjects relating, for example, to medicine, physics, astronomy and other topics of a highly scientific nature, having drafted the speech, he would invite a person of trust, an expert in their subject matter, and asked him to stay in a room adjacent to his study to examine and correct the text prepared by him, and he was sorry if corrections were not made. I have first-hand experience of those particular circumstances. [...] It is rightly acknowledged, therefore, that with theHumani generis11 Pius XII built a bridge of extraordinary effectiveness for the meeting between science and faith. That encyclical, in fact, not only drove against serious errors, but represented a strong affirmation of full respect not only for the light that truth draws from Revelation, but also for the invaluable contribution of human reason.
(4) Social sensitivity and the issues addressed by Gaudium et Spes also found timely treatment in the Magisterium and ministry of Pius XII.
On the duty of Christians to strive for the solution of the social question, Pius XII had spoken from the beginning of his pontificate, in his radio message of 1 June 1941 in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII13.
I shall not dwell on the ACLI [Association of Italian Catholic Workers], which, from the first meeting with Pope Pius XII on 11 March 1945 up to the unforgettable 1 May 1955 in St. Peter’s Square, found in the Pope a strong and vigilant guide, concerned above all for sound training for the Catholic worker.
Rediscovering Pius XII is rediscovering not only a great Pope, a figure who left his mark on the history of the twentieth century, but is rediscovering a saint.
Father Burkhard Schneider, a Jesuit who was the co-editor of the Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la seconde guerre mondiale, in concluding his acute profile of Pius XII, wrote: “A tragic fate loomed over the life and pontificate of Pius XII: being unable, first of all, to prevent or shorten the Second World War, with all the horrors associated with it. But those who examine and ponder without prejudice the direct sources, so far recognized, will have to admit that Pius XII wanted the best and committed what was in his power and all his strength, in full, to the service of the Church of Christ and of mankind”.