June 30th, 2006

Alex Ross/Clark-Superman

Personal: Superman Returns, and I return later...

Well, a late phone call from Diane found me careening across the city with her and Matt to take in a 10:15 showing of Superman Returns. Although very different from Superman as he's been written by DC for the last few decades, the story was a worthy picking up from the situation of 1980's Superman II, which was exactly what Bryan Singer was going for. That done, we found ourselves looking for an open restaurant at 1:30am, settling on Ma Fisher's, a north-side diner of the finest all-night sort that was just starting to jump with the North Avenue clubbers starting to stagger in for food and sobering. We had lots of movie talk and just general catching-up. I just got in and now I've got to stay up a few more hours, no matter how much I want to go bed, and let this meat loaf settle....
Vatican/St. Peter's

Theological Notebook: Pius XI archives opening; An Unfinished Racism Encyclical; Pius XII issues

The Vatican Archives are doing their thing, and scholars of this particular period of European history should be pretty pleased. I hadn't heard about this unfinished encyclical – Humani Generis Unitatas – of Pius XI's on racism before. I wonder what kind of impact the 1930s release of such a thing might have had? At least, as far as maybe an earlier impact on the United States' confrontation with its own racism, and the Catholic population here.

I don't for a minute believe that it would have had any impact on the Nazi regime in Germany. In particular, it certainly would not have had any effect along the lines conceived by the idiots mentioned as critics of Pius XII who've been making their money off of books with thoughtful titles like Hitler's Pope. The idea that World War II and the Nazi program of extermination of the Jews would have been halted if only the Pope had said, "Stop that, Mr. Hitler!" is certainly ... creative, historically speaking. I have somehow missed noticing all those non-Hitler's of the world who stop what they're doing just because a Pope criticizes them. But if anything, pseudo-history certainly sells books. I attended a day-long seminar at Notre Dame some years back on the cottage industry that had sprung up for blaming everything on Pius XII. I didn't know anything about the issue, but it certainly was instructive to listen to four real historians who had studied the matter lay out the sources and evidence against the pop authors. It's like my beef with screenwriters: I have yet to see anyone who can improve on the drama of history as it actually happened....

Vatican to Release Files on Pope Pius XI

Jun 30, 12:36 PM (ET)

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican said Friday it will release from its secret archives years of files on Pope Pius XI, whose pontificate spanned most of the period between the world wars.

The files cover the period from Feb. 6, 1922, to Feb. 10, 1939. Researchers will be allowed to access the files beginning Sept. 18.

In 2003, the Vatican began making available to scholars millions of Vatican documents from the years leading up to World War II, making them available ahead of schedule at the request of Pope John Paul II.

For years, the Vatican has struggled to defend Pius' successor - the wartime Pope Pius XII - against claims he did not do enough to save Jews from the Holocaust.

The material to be released may include an encyclical that Pius XI commissioned to denounce racism and the violent nationalism of Germany.

The encyclical was titled "Humani Generis Unitatas," or "The Unity of the Human Race," but Pius died before releasing it. It was never made public.