Jewish leaders dismayed over Pius XII comments in pope book

November 21, 2010

piusJewish leaders reacted with dismay Sunday to comments in Pope Benedict’s new book that his wartime predecessor Pius was a “great, righteous” man who “saved more Jews than anyone else.”

Many Jews accuse Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, of having turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. The Vatican says he worked quietly behind the scenes because speaking out would have prompted Nazi reprisals against Catholics and Jews in Europe.

In his book to be published Tuesday, called “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times,” the German pope says Pius did what he could and did not protest more clearly because he feared the consequences.

(Photo: Undated photo of Pope Pius XII from the archives of the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano)

In the book-length interview with a German journalist, the pope says of Pius: “The decisive thing is what he did and what he tried to do, and on that score we really must acknowledge, I believe, that he was one of the great righteous men and that he saved more Jews than anyone else.”

“Pope Benedict’s comments fill us with pain and sadness and cast a menacing shadow on Vatican-Jewish relations,” said Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.

When the pope visited Rome’s synagogue in January, the leader of the city’s Jewish community told him bluntly that Pius should have spoken out more forcefully against the Holocaust to show solidarity with Jews being led to the Auschwitz death camp.

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What nonsense from Steinberg – who stands against the testimony of Golda Meir. Golda Meir presented Pius with Israel’s honorific title “Righteous Among the Gentiles” for having lead the rescue of thousands of Jews in Italy and other Axis controlled areas. The NY Times during the war singled Pius out as foremost among the critics of the Third Reich and its racism. Pius was fighting the good fight against the Nazis and Fascists while he was trapped inside Nazi-controlled Italy! The Nazis held Pius in check by arresting priests, Jews and Jewish converts, for example, in places like Denmark, whenever Bishops and priests in Axis or Axis-occupied countries openly preached resistance against the Nazis.

Many current “progressives” are persecuting Pius as a way to smear the Catholic Church, especially John Paul II and Benedict, whom they prefer to attack indirectly by the smear against Pius.

Posted by CIM2011 | Report as abusive

I completely agree with the points of the following author. Many, many prominent Jewish leaders; whether they be Israeli politicians or the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem have come out in support of Pius XII and his efforts during the second world war. Also, one should be careful of implying some sort of universal opinion among the Jews. Every time a Jew makes a statement about this issue, the press picks it up, and often portrays it as a legitimate, well thought out, well researched opinion, that speaks for the Jews as a whole.

There are enormous amounts of evidence supporting the view that Pius XII helped save Jews during the Holocaust. The only evidence that those who say he didn’t have to go on is that he never made a public statement against the Nazis. The reason why he didn’t is that he judged that in doing so would probably endanger many more Jewish lives. We mustn’t forget that before he was pope, he worked for years as a apostolic nuncio, meaning that he was very familiar with international politics.

When all of this is said and done, we take away this. One, there is no actual evidence that he didn’t help Jews (and other persecuted people) and plenty that he did. Two, that the press often picks up any Jewish voice (no matter how credible or not) as one of authority and one that represents the entire Jewish population.

So will this debate ever come to end? I doubt it, at least not soon. Again, I find my self agreeing with the above author; Catholicism isn’t without its enemies, and it is certainly easy to imply that the pope didn’t help stop the Holocaust as a way of attacking them. Smear campaigns, name calling, et cetera, are nothing but age old methods of propaganda that are alive and well in this ‘debate’.

Posted by JohnDoe123987 | Report as abusive