50 years on, wartime pope overshadows Catholic-Jewish talks

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c. 2008 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Next Thursday (Oct. 9), Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII. The fact that Oct. 9 this year coincides with Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is ironic, since […]

  • Alan Hoffman

    This article, while more balanced than some on this subject, fails to take into consideration a vast library of Holocaust survivor testimony that time and again include statements tha local cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns turned Jews away from even temporary shelter, often with caustic anti-semitic remarks. That Yad V’shem has only been able to find and honor only about 21,000 Gentiles after 60 years of searching in Europe out of 200 million (1 in 10,000) bespeaks a general and immense failure of the Church to influence Christian Europe in the realm of “Christian love”. Leaders in Denmark and Bulgaria openly opposed Nazi mass Jewish transports with no impact. Pius XII did not.Hearing about so called Christian heroes is also made suspect when no one will openly and honestly speak about Christian villains (ex. about 23% of the Nazi SS were practicing Catholics). Further, keeping the Vatican archives closed to scholars for the period 1933 to 1945 makes Pius XII claims even more dubious. Adding insult to injury is the outstanding issue of between 5,000 and 10,000 “hidden children” who were never returned to the Jewish people and the post-war opposition of Pius XII to the creation of the State of Israel which would provide a safe haven for the remaining Jewish people.The story is far more involved than simply how many Jews did Pius XII save or not save. Truth be told, his attitude, motives and actions portray, taken as a whole, a conflicted man and Church at best. It still took the Church another 20 years to respond to events after the war in any positive fashion.