“The assertion that Pius saved more Jews than anyone else during the Holocaust is categorically contradicted by the known historical record”.
These are the words of Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.
He rebukes the Pope, who again has claimed that Pope Pius XII ‘saved more Jews than anyone else’, despite research criticizing him for turning blind eye to Holocaust.
Jewish leaders reacted with dismay on 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.
Jewish leaders said they were surprised by the comments. “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.
“The assertion that Pius saved more Jews than anyone else during the Holocaust is categorically contradicted by the known historical record. As survivors of the Holocaust we have a solemn obligation to the memory of those murdered to defend the truth of the tragedy till our last breath,” he said.
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.
Pius, including the possibility that the Vatican may one day make him a saint, is one of the main points of contention in relations between Jews and the Vatican. The pope’s latest comments raised new tensions.
Source: Israeli Newspaper Haaretz.
First Published: November 24th 2010.
Published by Ivar