Posts Tagged “catholic church”

In a decision so bizarre that I have to wonder about the sanity of those behind it, the Vatican has announced that it’s asserting copyright control over use of the image, name, title, etc. of the Pope (as the Catholic News Agency reports):

Holy See declares unique copyright on Papal figure

The Vatican made a declaration on the protection of the figure of the Pope on Saturday morning. The statement seeks to establish and safeguard the name, image and any symbols of the Pope as being expressly for official use of the Holy See unless otherwise authorized. …

The declaration alludes to attempts to use ecclesiastical or pontifical symbols and logos to “attribute credibility and authority to initiatives” as another reason to establish their “copyright” on the Holy Father’s name, picture and coat of arms.

“Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff… and/or the use of the title ‘Pontifical,’ must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See,” concluded the message released to the press.

I’m not sure what this means for me as someone who occasionally comments on the actions of the Pope© and the Holy See©. Must I always use copyright or trademark symbols when talking about the office of the Pope©, the current officeholder Benedict XVI©, or the Vatican© itself?

I’m no lawyer, but it would seem to me that someone as public as Pope Benedict XVI© is … and since the office of Pope© has existed for many centuries already … I’m not sure how the Holy See© could even begin to enforce its copyright. But since the Roman Catholic Church is the wealthiest non-government entity on the planet, it’s safe to assume they can hire whole armies of attorneys to try to do so, and perhaps use lawsuits to coerce cooperation, even if they are not legally entitled to it by the letter of international copyright law.

Finally, I’m not sure what the point of all this is. Surely the Vatican© has much more compelling concerns, especially given the most recent revelations on the Irish clerical child-abuse saga, which to date has led to the resignations of two Irish bishops, and may yet end more careers (including police and government officials in Ireland who had acceded to the Church’s will and did not stop the abuse).

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

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In a move that is sure to anger Jews around the world, the Vatican appears on track to canonize Pope Pius XII, who ran the Roman Catholic Church during World War II, and whose relations with the Third Reich were at best ambivalent, and remain a point of contention. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on this development:

Pope Benedict XVI moved two of his predecessors closer to sainthood Saturday, signing decrees on the virtues of the beloved Pope John Paul II and controversial Pope Pius XII, who has been criticized for not doing enough to stop the Holocaust.

The decrees mean that both men can be beatified once the Vatican certifies that a miracle attributed to their intercession has occurred. Beatification is the first major step before sainthood.

The Vatican had an odd relationship with the Nazi regime in Germany. In 1933 the R.C. Church became the first institution and sovereign state (i.e. Vatican City) to arrive at an explicit agreement with the Third Reich, called the Reichskonkordat. This agreement went a long way toward legitimizing the then-new regime in Germany. The Reichskonkordat was, in essence, a diplomatic coup for Hitler and his cronies. Also, although he was not Pope at the time this concordat was made, Pius XII was the papal nuncio who helped broker it. Later the R.C. Church appeared reluctant to do anything, even faced with the growing Nazi menace and the onset of the Holocaust.

Naturally, this backstory means that not everyone is thrilled with this development:

Some Jews and historians have argued that Pius should have done more to prevent the deaths of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. As a result, the German-born Benedict’s surprise decision to recognize Pius’ “heroic virtues” sparked immediate outcry from Jewish groups. …

“While it is obviously up to the Vatican to determine who its saints are, the church’s repeated insistence that it seeks mutually respectful ties with the Jewish community ought to mean taking our sensitivities into account on this most crucial historical era,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

The Church has long insisted that it was not, in fact, dormant in the face of Nazi atrocities:

The Vatican insists Pius used quiet diplomacy to try to save Jews. Pius, a Vatican diplomat in Germany before being elected pope, did denounce in general terms the extermination of people based on race and opened Vatican City up to war refugees, including Jews, after Hitler occupied Rome in 1943.

But he didn’t issue scathing public indictments of Jewish deportations, and some historians say he cared more about bilateral relations with Nazi Germany regarding the rights of the Catholic church there, than saving Jewish lives.

The problem with the Church’s position is that, even if it’s true, it’s still not really a very flattering potrait of the papacy at that time. The Vatican’s “quiet diplomacy” was, quite obviously, totally ineffective in doing anything to quell the Third Reich’s excesses. At some point Pius XII — if he were truly committed to stopping the Nazis — should have recognized the utter failure of his several years of “quiet diplomacy,” and tried a different tactic.

But he never did.

The reasons for this are not clear, but it was likely because, as one of the forgers of the alliance between the Church and the Third Reich, he was trying to salvage what remained of his own personal dignity.

At any rate, the impending canonization of Pius XII is yet another source of Jewish irritation with Pope Benedict XVI, who’s already in hot water over the re-admittance to Catholicism of bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St Pius X, who has denied the Holocaust, and about whom I’ve blogged already. Benedict stands at the edge of alienating the world’s Jews … and not for any good reason that I can see.

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