Holocaust museum revises criticism of Pope Pius XII

The Holocaust museum in Jerusalem has revised the controversial text of a plaque in which Pope Pius XII was portrayed as silent in the face of Nazi persecution of Jews.

Officials at the Yad Vashem museum said the change was made on the recommendation of its International Institute for Holocaust Research, not as a result of Vatican pressure.

The previous text said Pius XII did not denounce racism and anti-Semitism during the Second World War, did not protest about what the Nazis were doing against the Jews, and did not intervene when they were deported from Rome.

The new text presents the Pope’s role as something that has caused debate. It mentions, for example, that already in 1942 in the course of his Christmas radio message, Pius XII mentioned the “hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault of their own, at times only for reasons of nationality or race, are destined to death or to progressive deterioration”.

The new text mentions that the Catholic Church carried out a considerable number of rescue activities to save Jews. It also recognises that Pius XII himself intervened to encourage the rescue activities and the safeguarding of the Jews.

Still, the new text includes criticism of the Vatican for not opening its archives to allow historians to research the actions of the Holy See at the time, noting that until researchers have access to “all relevant” materials the topic will “remain open to further inquiry”.

Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, said: “It is good news, even if Pius XII will not become suddenly a saint for them, but the situation will certainly be better. Now they present the Pontiff indicating that his work is still the object of great discussions.”


Catholic News Service


Image: Popes and Papacy

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News category: World.