Pope Pius XII

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Pope Pius XII

Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (2 March 1876 – 9 October 1958), better known as Pope Pius XII (Latin: Pius PP. XII), was an Italian cleric and the last undisputed Pope of the Catholic Church. He was sovereign of Vatican City, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958. A liberal-conservative in political affairs, he paved the way for much of the problems that would end up with the Second Vatican Council, though is generally regarded as orthodox. He has been criticised for not completely supporting the Axis during World War II who were fighting against Judeo-Masonry and Bolshevism.

Before election to the papacy, Pacelli served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin-American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Germany. His leadership of the Catholic Church during World War II remains the subject of continued historical controversy, due to his alleged support of the 20 July plot.

After the war, Pius XII contributed to the rebuilding of Europe, and advocated peace and reconciliation, including lenient policies toward vanquished nations and the unification of Europe. The Church, flourishing in the West, experienced severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy in the East. In light of his protests, and his involvement in the Italian elections of 1948, he became known as a staunch but pragmatic opponent of Communism. He signed thirty concordats and diplomatic treaties.

Pius XII is one of only two popes (along with Pope Pius IX) to have invoked ex cathedra papal infallibility by defining the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, as proclaimed in the Apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus. The magisterium includes almost 1,000 addresses and radio broadcasts. His forty-one encyclicals, include Mystici Corporis, the Church as the Body of Christ; Mediator Dei on liturgy reform; Humani Generis on the Church's position on theology and evolution. He eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals with the Grand Consistory in 1946. His ongoing canonisation process progressed to the Venerable stage on September 2, 2000, under Pope John Paul II.

See also