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For the last year, the marvelous John Rose and Mary Angelita Ruiz have been our Junior Fellows at the magazine, and they seem to have had a good time, despite having to put up with such shady characters as Joseph Bottum and Richard John Neuhaus.

NOW F IRST T HINGS has two Junior Fellowship positions available, beginning in the late summer or early fall of 2006. These are one-year internships for young writers and scholars interested in religion and public life. The positions offer the opportunity to participate in the magazine’s writing and production, the theological and political discussions the magazine sponsors, and the religious, cultural, and intellectual events that cluster around F IRST T HINGS in New York City. The positions offer free housing and a modest stipend. Send applications with résumé, writing sample, and references to: Erik Ross, Managing Editor, F IRST T HINGS , 156 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, New York 10010.

Pius XII seems to have had a pretty good year in 2005, which is a considerable feat, given the run of books attacking him over the last decade. I have an interest¯or maybe "hobby" is the better word¯in the cycles of reputation by which Pius went in fifty years from near-universal acclaim to being routinely called "Hitler’s Pope," but I’ve been too busy during the last year to do more than cheer from the sidelines. Still, my friend William Doino¯who is something far beyond a hobbyist in these matters¯has emailed to say that "2005 was a banner year for Pius XII studies," beginning with what he calls "America’s Pius XII trilogy."

The first, Bill is kind enough to note, was The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII , issued early in the year from Lexington Books. An anthology I co-edited with David Dalin, it featured the reviewers’ response to the books attacking Pius XII¯including work by such F IRST T HINGS authors as Robert Louis Wilken, Russell Hittinger, Ronald Rychlak, Justus George Lawler, and Michael Novak.

Then came David Dalin’s own The Myth of Hitler’s Pope from Regnery: "a brisk, no-nonsense work, marshalling testimonials and facts on Pius’ behalf, taking direct aim at John Cornwell’s book Hitler’s Pope ." In addition to its positive American reviews, it received praise in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ¯proof, perhaps, of the higher reputation of Pius among German scholars, a point Fr. Gumpel and others have claimed

Next up was Ronald Rychlak’s Righteous Gentiles: How Pius XII and the Catholic Church Saved Half a Million Jews from the Nazis , from Spence Publishing. A collection of the law professor’s articles and reviews, it reveals how much work Rychlak has put into the topic over the years. At the end of the year, another anthology appeared, Pius XII, the Holocaust, and the Revisionists from McFarland & Company, edited by Patrick Gallo of New York University. Gallo’s previous work includes For Love and Country: The Italian Resistance , and this new work should be good, but I haven’t yet had a chance to read it.

Meanwhile, in Italy, Andrea Tornielli and Matteo Luigi Napolitano published Pacelli, Roncalli ei battesimi della Shoah , which Bill Doino describes as "the definitive work" discrediting the claim that Pius XII engaged in a systematic policy of preventing baptized Jewish children, rescued by the Church during the Holocaust, from returning to their parents or relatives after the war. "Napolitano and Tornielli deserve enormous credit for exposing this hoax after the Corriere della sera first made the charges at the beginning of the year." (In the new issue of Commonweal , Michael Marrus has an interesting article on the topic, criticizing the Vatican on a number of points but exonerating it of the charge of papal kidnapping. Also from Italy comes Alessia Falifigli’s Salvati dai Conventi , with fresh documentation about the Vatican during the German occupation of Rome.

The opening of the archives of Pius XI, pope from 1922 to 1939, is producing a flood of new work, mostly in scholarly journals. Thomas Brechenmacher’s "Pope Pius XI, Eugenio Pacelli, and the Persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany 1933-1939: New Sources from the Vatican Archives" in the Bulletin of the German Historical Institute (November 2005) is a good example, and much more is in the pipeline.

The reputation of Pius XII has to have several years like this in a row before it will recover, in the public mind at least, from the battering it has taken from the likes of John Cornwell. Still, it’s good to see, as Bill Doino notes, "A growing sense of optimism and confidence emerging among a new generation of Pius XII scholars."

Sophia Lynn, a friend from D.C. and daughter of the great cultural historian Kenneth Lynn, calls from Washington to note the Lincoln Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home National Monument is hosting a presentation on "Abraham Lincoln, God, and the Civil War." Scheduled for Friday, February 10, at 10 AM in the Stanley Chapel at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, the program includes the Lincoln Prize-winners Richard J. Carwardine and Allen Guelzo. Space is limited, Sophia notes, so you must RSVP at 202-588-6294 by February 7. The discussion between Carwardine and Guelzo should be of deep interest to Civil War buffs¯which, around F IRST T HINGS , includes nearly everyone, especially when the topic includes Abraham Lincoln and God.

In addition to which :

Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth is the new book by Father Richard John Neuhaus that will be published by Basic Books on February 1. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal and author of John Paul the Great says this:

"This is the story of how one priest discovered the way of grace and glory that is being Catholic. Writing with eloquence, deep intelligence and wit, Father Neuhaus guides us past all the confusion and controversy and lets the splendor of truth shine through. If you’re a serious Catholic, if you want to be a serious Catholic, if you want to know what it means to be a serious Catholic, read this book."

Catholic Matters can be ordered from Amazon by clicking here .

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