Father Tony

What We Should Do About The Suddenly More Saintly Pius XII

Filed By Father Tony | January 03, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: Cardinal Spellman, eugenio pacelli, pius XII

ManyPius_XII_and_Rome.jpg are up in arms about the fact that B16 has moved Pius XII up a few steps on the board game "Sainthood". They feel that Pius XII, a lover of things German, did not do enough to fight the Holocaust.

As usual, most folks don't know how to deal winningly with the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

They want to protest, express anger, demand retraction. That is simply not the right strategy.

I'd like to propose something a bit more subtle and sly based on some well known facts about the relationship between Pius and Francis Spellman.

Here is what we ought to do. The queer community and the Jewish community and all modern enlightened Roman Catholics (and I know some of you will protest the possibility of such a critter) should praise this papal action resoundingly as a demonstration that the gay clergy is finally being recognized for their holiness in Roman Catholic history. Much should be written and blogged about the well known fact that Pius XII was best friends with little Frannie Spellman when they both young and randy clerics. Spellman would probably have never amounted to much in terms of ecclesiatical power had it not been for the ascendancy of  his "particular friend" Pacelli to the papacy. A mere six weeks after becoming Pius XII, Pacelli made Spellman Archbishop and soon Cardinal of New York, much to the chagrin of almost all other American bishops. It's a love story full of ambition and church politics, some Kennedys, A Roman princess, and not a little sex and romance. Let us trumpet the move to sainthood of one of the great queen popes of modern history. And then let's watch as the fidgety clueless Vatican tries to spin that while abandoning their affection for Pius XII.

If B16 is going to push anyone forward to sainthood, let it be this woman who was excommunicated because of gossip and episcopal jealousy and had the patience to endure it because she loved the Catholic Church and eventually received an apology.

Here's the young Pacelli and covergirl Francine Spellman with the man behind her throne.


PS: In Rome, I came to possess the key to Francine's desk. I still have it. I also was given the scarlet cassock he kept in Rome for quick trips to Eugenio. It fit me perfectly. One crazy night, I gave it to a young German Benedictine monk named Anselm whom I met through Rembert Weakland....I wonder if he still has it.

PS: Their grandmother introduced Pacelli to Spellman. (The wiki account is incorrect.) An interesting squabble over a fabulous inheritance. I'm searching for a photo of gay Jonathan's lucky Brazilian partner, Elson Braga.

PS: Go to the 3:33 mark in this video to hear the voice of Francine Spellman. No wonder he hated Fulton Sheen!

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Ah, Father Tony, you are giving us a lesson in the way that Vatican politics really works! If only there were a tabloid industry that would let us in on the latest Vatican gossip the way there is for Hollywood, then Western civilization might be that much less enthralled by the latest Tiger Woods lipstick-on-his-jockstrap.

When I heard that B16 had nudged Pius XII and John XXIII along the road to sainthood, I imagined I could hear B16 thinking, "Hey, I doubt I'll go down in history for much, so my best bet for beatification myself is to grease the tracks myself with a few of my predecessors." And if B16 can get the beatification of former pontiffs to become near-automatic, then he might be in like flint! Why fret about seminary "grade inflation" when you can implement "saint inflation"?

Me, cynical? ... Never!

A friend who was a fairly famous gay hustler/celeb showed me a framed check for "services" (actually written in the memo of the check) from Cardinal Spellman. He never cashed the check figuring it would be worth something someday. The friend is long gone but that check is still floating around somewhere....

I'd love to see that check. Spellman did not seem too interested in covering his tracks. He felt invincible, and really, he was. It was an easier time to cruise under the radar.

"How can the Church expect people to follow its teachings on birth control when a prince of the Church flouts the Pope's wishes on war?"
Sidney Kennedy on Spellman's enthusiasm for the Vietnam war.

Dar MH,
Spellman was a little man, as were Sheen and Pacelli and all their bejeweled successors. You would think that heroism and courage of conviction would percolate more frequently in a house of God. So disappointing.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | January 3, 2010 11:24 PM

Just as Hoover combined paranoia and outrageous behavior. One wonders how the church has yet to come to grips with the 16th CENTURY...

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 4, 2010 8:53 AM

" Much should be written and blogged about the well known fact that Pius XII was best friends with little Frannie Spellman when they both young and randy clerics."

Father Tony, although from what I've read and heard seems to leave very little doubt concerning Spellman's sexual orientation and that it was manifested by activity and not just an "inner status", I've not seen anything other than speculation concerning Pius XII. Your items suggests that the "friendship" was more than that, but could be criticised as mere "guilt by association". Can you perhaps be a bit more specific about the contours of the "well known" here?

I tend to think that where there is smoke there is fire, but the piece sort of left me hanging.

Dear Don,
While there is indeed plenty of smoke about Pius XII, there is little fire. I'm sure there are affectionate letters that have yet to come to light, but that won't add to our convictions. Spellman, as you note, is a different story.

My point is that if the queer community simply claims Pius XII, it will put the Vatican in an uncomfortable situation. They can do all they want to deny it, but the question will linger like a heavy cloud over the move to canonization and I guarantee you they will back away from pursuing it which is what should happen.

Surprisingly, as a result of writing this post, I've been contacted by some folks with some amazing info about Spellman. I've got an interview scheduled for this afternoon as a result. Stay tuned.

On a serious note my dear Tony,

In my desk is the file on Cardinal Stepanic.
Occasionally I'll memorise a passage or two when I have to deal with the Vatican on extradition issues(all too frequently and too unproductively as of late)

If Stepanic can become "blessed" after a well deserved conviction for war crimes/genocide, and Josemaria Escriva, linked to the White Terror after the Spanish Civil War, who called womenh"pigs" can be canonised, and Karl Hapsburg whose futile attempts to take the Hugnarian throne cost countless lives and be raised up as holy, then why not caninise Pius XII? He tried to do good, tried but feebly. The others that I listed did genuine evil

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 4, 2010 10:23 AM

Thanks. I've seen more concerning Pope Paul VI, and have always thought that had he been a bit more resolute against the entrenched/largely also closeted forces in the Vatican he might not have issued his infamous reaffirmation of the Church's line on contraception notwitstanding the position of the commission he had authorized and established to study it. Had that not happened, perhaps he might have been instrumental in fostering a re-study of the moral theology concerning other aspects of human sexuality.

Dear Don,
You are right about Paul VI. He could have been a greater man than he allowed himself to be. It should be noted that even though he ditched the first report of the commission that studied birth control, he did allow its leader, the Jesuit Josef Fuchs, to continue to teach at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he was my moral theology professor. That one little fact is significant. In the classroom, Fuchs (a very hot silver daddy) was incredibly liberal.

I have lot more personal info about Paul VI and a certain member of his household (to whom I surrendered not my virtue but everything else) that I will keep "in pectore" for the moment.

Claim Pius XII as the patron saint of LGBT rights and support his canonisation.

The Church will blow a fuse trying to deal with the implications---Fr Tony is absolutely right!

On this issue; I LOVE the way you think, Tony...
Yes; a back door, sneak attack! Come up on their rears, when they're piously bent over and catch them unawares! It's brilliant! (And it nearly gives me a boner!) I'm gonna write a letter to my Bishop today; "...and as a devout gay Catholic, I urge you to lend your support to our Holy Father in pursuing this need for a new saint that all gay Catholics can aspire and pray to for guidance."

True or not, these rumors about Spellman (whom I remember well) and the Pope are the source of one of my favorite old jokes. It seems the Pope had called an eccumenical conference of assorted Christian sects. In deference to the invited Protestants, the Cardinals were instructed to dress simply in black, avoiding the usual showiness. The day of the conference arrived, and everyone was in attendance, dressed modestly in black...everyone except for Cardinal Spellman, who was in fact quite late. The Pope was thoroughly irritated. Suddenly, the doors to the audience chamber banged open, and in swept Francis Cardinal Spellman, red cassock, purple cape, covered in jewels, including his mitre. As he flounced over to the Pope and knelt to kiss his ring, the Pope hissed through his teeth, "Fran, you bitch!"

Fr. Tony,

You have outdone yourself! I love your approach and it makes sense. )

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 4, 2010 6:18 PM

Father Tony:

At the risk of putting folks outside of the Roman Catholic heritage asleep, it would appear that if you are serious concerning advancing the beatification of Pope Pius XII in the way you suggest, you will still need to consider some of the procedural requirements involved.

For example, I believe the requirements for the number of miracles required for sainthood are different, depending upon whether the candidate is a martyr for the faith or simply a confessor. Or maybe I have that confused with the number required if you are virgin-martyr versus a confessor-virgin versus just a plain old garden variety virgin.

Hopefully if you have relevant insight/expertise insight into this you will not hold it "in pectore" through the process.

And then there's the matter of whether the key you have to Spellman's desk is a second, third, or fourth class relic. It may have something to do with who touched who and where impurely (or with impure thoughts).

Pius miracles? like praying to Pius to get Signorile to use condoms or something and having it happen?

Or perhaps it will turn out that someone prayed to Pius to intercede to get Meredith Baxter to come out?

Better yet, someone prayed to Pius to have porn videos turn up that featured Carrie Prejean.