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Supreme pontiff who led the church during the turbulence of World War II. Secretary for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs; papal nuncio to Germany; papal secretary of state.


ADS - Autograph Document Signed. An historically-important document. Seven line handwritten apostolic blessing boldly signed by Pius XII. Dated 29 September 1946. Bestowed upon Father Johan Franz Hürth, S.J., a distinguished moral theologian and influential advisor to Popes Pius XI and Pius XII. He was popularly hailed as the "Holy Ghostwriter". Reads:  To our beloved Son, Franz Hurth, SJ., we impart the Apostolic Blessing in paternal love on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee in recognition of his blessed work for the cause of the Holy Church as a pledge of the fullness of Christ's grace.


While the Vatican officially was neutral during WWII, the Reichskonkordat and Pius XII's leadership of the church during the war remain the subject of considerable controversy, including allegations of public silence and inaction about the fate of the Jews. It is known that Pius employhed diplomacy to aid the victims of the Nazi's during the war and, through directing the church to provide discreet aid to Jews and other marginalized groups, saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Pius maintained links to the German resistance and shared intelligence with the Allies. His strongest public condemnation of genocide was considered inadequate by the Allied Powers, while the Nazi's viewed him as an Allied sympathizer who had dishonored his policy of Vatican neutrality. 


In March 2020, the Vatican Secret Archives made WWII materials available to credentialed researchers.  It is hoped that, in time, we will have a clearer understanding of Pius XII and his wartime leadership.


JOHN FRANZ HÜRTH (1880-1963) was a Jesuit moral theologian. He studied philosophy and theology at the Jesuit University in Valkenburg/Netherlands and law in Berlin. From 1919 he was the successor to August Lehmkuhl as professor of moral theology in Valkenburg. Karl Rahner was one of his students there. In the discussion about the sterilization of the mentally ill in the late 1920s, he took a contrary stance to Joseph Mayer and advocated the fundamental incompatibility of Catholic moral theology and eugenics (the Right to Interfere with the Life of the Unborn). 


In the fall of 1934, Hürth was appointed by Pius XI who commissioned him to prepare a statement on National Socialist ideology for the Holy Office, working with his brother Johannes Rabeneck.  After just six months, the brothers had compiled a list of the main errors of nationalism, racism and totalinarianism -- essentially from Hitler's Mein Kampf.


After the religious college in Valkenburg was dissolved by the Gestapo following the German invasion of the Netherlands in July, 1942, Father Hürth moved to the Pontifical Gregorian Universityh in Rome as a professor of moral theology.  There he gained importance and influence primarily as a moral theological advisor to Pius XII and was appointed as a consultant to the Holy Office.  On the recommendation of Hürth, Pope John XXIII appointed the French theologians Yves Conger and Henri de Lubac as consultants to the theological preparatory commission of the Second Vatican Council.


NOTA BENE:  the image of Father Hürth is for illustrative purposes only.

PIUS XII, Venerable (1876-1958)

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