WI Pope Pius XII lives till 1970s?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Don_Giorgio, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. Don_Giorgio Praefectus Praetorio Orientis

    Dec 13, 2006
    Athens Greece
    Pope Pius XII died on 9 October 1958 of acute heart failure brought on by a sudden myocardial infarction in Castel Gadolfo, the Papal summer residence. His doctor Gaspanini said afterwards: "The Holy Father did not die because of any specific illness. He was completely exhausted. He was overworked beyond limit. His heart was healthy, his lungs were good. He could have lived another 20 years, had he spared himself."
    WI Pius XII didnt exhausted himself and continued living till 1970s reaching an age of 90+ (remember Pope Leo XIII died aged 93 which is unusual for Popes...)
    Thar means certainly no Pope John XXIII and possibly no Pope Paul VI (he would be near 80 years old so he would be an unlikely papabili)...
    Who gets to succeed him then and what would be Church's situation when Pius XII dies almost a centenarian?
  2. proximefactum each chevron enticing me on

    Political ramifications: many more problems with the USSR. Heightened cold war between the Vatican and the Kremlin. The Pope might have more difficulty communicating with the prelates of traditionally Catholic peoples in Communist satellite states. An explicit anti-Communist front would likely result in more persecution for Catholicism behind the Iron Wall. We would probably never know Pius' role in WW II, or at least much less than is currently being digged up. The OTL progression to John Paul II and his potent and much more politically astute anti-Communist stance proved to be a more providential chain of events.

    Conciliar ramifications: The Church might very well see a council in the 60s or 70s anyway. I don't think it would have been as comprehensive as Vatican II. I do see some changes as inevitable, particularly in a Sacrosanctum Concilium knockoff, but watered down. Nostra Aetate? Maybe not, and that's one good reason we got Paul VI. Conservative prelates like Siri, Lefebvre, and Ottovani would probably get more of a listen in this ATL council then they did at Vatican II. I don't know Pius' take on ecumenism and religious/personal liberties. I could definitely see something very close to Humanae Vitae incorporated into the council rather than a later standalone encyclical.

    Liturgical ramifications: no new Mass, calendar, and breviary (among other things) as with Paul VI. Probably status quo with Trent in many respects, but with some vernacularization akin to the 1965 missal. No 'flipping of the altars': Pius was particularly against this idea. Would we get the same liturgical experimentation as in the 60s and 70s? Maybe, but probably not to the same extent as in OTL. Any dissent would probably be dealt with a more authoritarian stance than Paul VI's indecision.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  3. Tom_B Member

    Jan 8, 2004
    Die Laughing

    The gastritis that plagued Pius in 53-54 to such a degree he considered resigning had recurred in his last few months and had he survived the immediate medical crisis would have plagued him for the rest of his life. As he grew older a really funny joke could conceivably killed him so 20 yrs seems overly optimistic.

    Would he eventually have called a council. Probably not but it is not inconceivable either. Pius rejected the notion floating around the Curia that once a church council had defined papal infallibility there was no need to ever again call a council. A council under Pius would not have the same framework as Pope John's. It would not be a pastoral council and told not to issue anathemas. I could see it becoming extremely fractious arguing over things like whether Mary was a CoRedemptrix.

    Assuming that he does live to at least 1970 you would see a series of incremental reforms that would definitely eventually incl. vernacularization of most or all of the Mass (maybe not the Canon). I think Bugnini could eventually persuade him to tinker with the Church calendar but not as severely as OTL. Pius was very impressed by Jungmann and Jungmann believed the early Church prayed ad Orient from the beginning so no switch to ad populum in his lifetime.

    Theology: Pius would have hounded the more extreme proponents of New Theology like Rahner but been cautiously favorable to certain of its less radical notions. He had already opened up biblical theology to more modern liberal interpretations and even embraced the People of God paradigm. How he would have treated Courtney-Murray is an interesting question. It should be noted that Spellman, once Pius' fave, stood behind Courtney-Murray. While Pius would maintain more discipline than either John or Paul did he would be only partially effective at best in stemming the tide of New Theology creeping into seminaries.

    On the political level there is no doubt he would remain vigorously antiCommunist. I think he would initially perceive JFK as a vigorous Cold Warrior and support him for that reason. I think he would support the civil rights movement but in a highly qualified way putting strong limits on how involved clergy and nuns came become. This will likely generate some friction.
  4. Rediv Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2009
    I wonder if the exercise of papal authority might not actually erode during an extended pontificate for Pius XII.

    In order to not "exhaust himself," as the OP put it, Papa Pacelli would certainly have to cut back on his taxing output of encyclicals, letters, allocutions, etc. I wonder also what would happen to the curia. By the time of his death, Pius XII was acting as his own secretary of state, and many other curial positions remained vacant. Without a strong pope to keep the machine running, as it were, things might begin to fall apart in the Vatican.