Divine Providence and Papal Diplomacy: The Case of Pius XII in World War II

Of the Christian Mysteries, the concept and reality of the Permissive Will of God is one of the most challenging doctrines, and a great personal test of the Faith of a Catholic. For, it is believed that God (the Holy Trinity) does not intend evil but, instead, allows evil. And the reflectively faithful Catholic’s attitude becomes something like this, expressed as “a correlative relative proposition”: the greater the evil that God allows, the greater the good He intends to bring out of it. Therefore, we must promptly and generously co-operate with that divine intention and strive to bring about a greater good from what God has allowed to happen. Moreover, it is believed that there is both God’s General Providence for mankind, and also God’s Particular Providence for each of us individually.

One test of the often subtle operation of this Divine Providence in history is to consider the conduct and motives of the divinely founded Papacy (both individual Popes and the Holy See itself) during war, especially during a great war, and a protracted war, such as World War II. One may learn much not only from a Pope’s acts of commission, but also from his acts of omission, which are often consequential, too.

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