Pope Pious XII

In March 1939 Pope Pious XII began his rule as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Roman Catholic Church, pontificate that lasted until October 1958. He had the responsibility to head the Church through World War II, which pitted the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, Japan, etc.) against the Allies (United States, United Kingdom, France, etc.), with both camps fighting to expand their respective spheres of influence in order to achieve global hegemony. Pious XII’s precise role during the conflict is still the subject of scholarly debate.

Evidentiary documentation from a British spy agency emerged as a matter of study in 2012 in the article titled “New Perspectives on Pious XII and Vatican Financial Transactions during the Second World War,” authored by Patricia McGoldrick and published in a Cambridge University history journal. It indicated that the Holy See contributed to the Allies’ victory by moving its investments to the American military-industrial complex, as General Dwight Eisenhower called it. These transactions were under the direct supervision of Bernardino Nogara, chief financial officer (CFO) of the Catholic Church, who is alleged to have also been involved in shady deals on behalf of the Roman Curia, claims that are discussed in Gerald Posner’s book “God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican,” among others. It’s not immediately clear whether or not the city-state under Pope Francis still holds this profit-seeking stake in the U.S. war machinery.

After the defeat of fascism at the end of World War II Pious XII’s global popularity grew as he was hailed as a hero. He received numerous public tributes. For one, on April 9, 1956, the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Most Holy Trinity Congregation decided to honor the then reigning Holy Father by naming a school in Peru after him. This congregation of nuns is special in that it’s one of the few founded in a Latin American country, in this case, Mexico. In response to a request from Latin American bishops, the congregation extended its work of evangelization and catechism from Mexico to Bolivia and Peru.

So, what’s the educational philosophy of Pious XII School at the pre-school level, for instance? It can be found in its official literature: “We form children with solid values inspired by Christian principles, by which their development unfolds safely, autonomously and integrally, enhancing at all times their intellectual and value-based abilities, basing ourselves on the development of their capabilities and abilities, giving a personalized education where parents and teachers work as a team. 

“Children are protagonists of their own learning, taking into account the proper sensitive periods of each age, providing them with sensory motor activities by which they develop through play their multiple intelligences with an adequate socialization, having an innovative and vanguard vision that will help them face with success, respect and tolerance the various challenges that society poses. We attach importance to adequate socialization and interaction on the basis of the development of multiple intelligences.

“We are a group highly qualified to detect, guide and make timely follow-ups to achieve the optimal integral development of our students.”

This philosophy seems to be at least partly inspired by the aphorism “know thyself” allegedly inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Professor Luis Felipe Guerra of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru attributed this maxim to Greek philosopher Socrates but Socrates’ disciple Plato in his treatises makes it clear that, although his mentor used the saying profusely, he was not its original source. Professor Guerra indicated that Socrates employed the phrase to mean that people should know their potentialities and limitations.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).

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