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Blet, Pierre 1918-

Blet, Pierre 1918-

PERSONAL:

Born November 20, 1918, in Thäon, France; son of Albert Blet and Solange Rossignol. Education: Graduate student in Lyon, France, and Innsbruck, Austria, between 1941 and 1951; Sorbonne, University of Paris, doctorate, 1958.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Gregorian University, 4 Piazza dello Pilotta, Rome, Italy.

CAREER:

Societas Jesu (Society of Jesus; Jesuits; S.J.), Roman Catholic priest; Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, professor, 1959—.

MEMBER:

Institut, Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (correspondent).

AWARDS, HONORS:

Decorated Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.

WRITINGS:

Le Clergé de France et la monarchie, two volumes, Gregorian University Library (Rome, Italy), 1959.

(Editor) Girolamo Ragazzoni évêque de Bergame, nonce en France; correspondance de sa nonciature 1583-1586, Gregorian University (Rome, Italy), 1962.

(Editor) Correspondance du nonce en France Ranuccio Scotti, 1639-1641, Gregorian University (Rome, Italy), 1965.

Les assemblées du clergé et Louis XIV de 1670 à 1693, Gregorian University (Rome, Italy), 1972.

Histoire de la représentation diplomatique du Saint Siège: Des origines à l'aube du XIXe siècle, Vatican Archive (Vatican City), 1982.

Le Clergé de France, Louis XIV et le Saint Siège de 1695 à 1715, Vatican Archive (Vatican City), 1989.

Le clergé du grand siècle en ses assemblées (1615-1717), Les Editions du Cerf (Paris, France), 1995.

Pie XII et la Seconde Guerre mondiale d'apres les archives du Vatican, Perrin (Paris, France), 1997, translation by Lawrence J. Johnson published as Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican, Paulist Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Les nonces du pape à la cour de Louis XIV, Perrin (Paris, France), 2002.

Richelieu et l'Église, Via Romana (Versailles, France), 2007.

Coeditor of "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War" series, eleven volumes, Vatican Library (Vatican City), 1965-81, published in translation, edited by Gerald Noel, Herder (London, England), beginning 1968.

Blet's work has been translated into Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Croatian, and German.

SIDELIGHTS:

Pierre Blet is a Jesuit historian assigned by Pope Paul VI in 1964 to study and publish some of the documents from the archives of the Vatican. He is known primarily for his work on the eleven volumes of the "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War" series, which focuses on Pope Pius XII's attitude toward Nazi Germany and the Jewish Holocaust during World War II.

"The attitude of Pope Pius XII toward Nazi Germany and the reasons for his silence in the face of the murder of 6 million Jews have been the subject of extensive and often acrimonious debate," noted Guenter Lewy in the Saturday Review. It was in response to this debate that Pope Paul VI put together a group of Jesuit historians to explore the archives for documents relating to the war. The result is a mammoth eleven-volume set published from 1965 to 1981.

In addition to the Vatican documents, Blet also published a more concise defense of Pope Pius XII, titled Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican. Blet's (and the Vatican's) position is that there was no anti-Semitism in the policy of the Roman Catholic Church during the outbreak of the war; Pius XII refrained from publicly denouncing the Nazis in order to avoid antagonizing Hitler into attacking Catholics in both Germany and the territories occupied by the German regime.

Critics were largely positive in their assessment of Blet's works, though the debate about the attitude of the church toward the Nazis still continues. Most critics of the "Acts and Documents" series found the scholarship solid, although some critics felt that the fact that the series was edited by three Catholics was suspect. "Justified as this reproach may be, the availability of these documents is a definite net gain for students of the period," noted Lewy in a Church History review. John C. Fout in a separate Church History review concluded: "Any reader is … still going to come away from the book with a strong sense of doubt about the role played by the church and the pope."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America, October 23, 1999, Jose M. Sanchez, review of Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican, p. 25.

Catholic Historical Review, July, 1983, Donald E. Queller, review of Histoire de la representation diplomatique du Saint Siège: Des origines à l'aube du XIXe siècle, pp. 444-446; July, 1990, Albert N. Hamscher, review of Le Clergé de France, Louis XIV et le Saint Siège de 1695 à 1715, pp. 601-602; January, 1997, Jacques M. Gres-Gayer, review of Le clergé du grand siècle en ses assemblées (1615-1717), pp. 106-107; April, 1999, John Jay Hughes, review of Pie XII et la Seconde Guerre mondiale d'apres les archives du Vatican, pp. 268-270.

Church History, December, 1966, Guenter Lewy, review of works in the series "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," pp. 481-482; March, 1983, John C. Fout, review of work in the series "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," pp. 115-116; March, 1984, C.T. McIntire, review of Histoire de la representation diplomatique du Saint Siège, p. 100.

English Historical Review, October, 1968, review of works in the series "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," pp. 807-809.

Journal of Modern History, December, 1967, Rene Albrecht-Carrie, review of works in the series "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," pp. 481-482.

National Catholic Reporter, November 19, 1999, Arthur Jones, review of Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican, p. 13.

Saturday Review, May 21, 1966, Guenter Lewy, review of works in the series "Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relating to the Second World War," pp. 26-27.

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