Anger as Pope Pius Moves Closer to Sainthood


pope-piusPope Benedict XVI has been accused of “insensitivity” towards Jews yesterday after the head of the Catholic Church moved his controversial World War II-era predecessor Pope Pius XII a step closer to¬†sainthood.Pius XII, who served from 1939 to 1958, is regarded by conservative Catholics as one of the greatest of modern popes. But his papacy was also controversial because of his failure to make any protest as millions of Jews were taken to Nazi gas chambers. His supporters claim that silence was necessary for the protection of Catholics around Europe. But the Vatican has infuriated critics by failing to open secret archives relating to his papacy before moving him closer to canonisation.

“This papacy has excelled in diplomatic insensitivity,” said Rabbi David Rosen, a member of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and president of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. “It has excelled at a lack of consultation and consideration for the ramifications of its actions.”

On Shabbos Benedict XVI officially declared Pius XII had displayed “heroic virtues” throughout his life and was thus a Christian worthy of imitation – the final hurdle before beatification, which immediately precedes canonisation.

Iris Rosenberg, a spokesman for the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Yerushalayim, added her voice to the growing chorus of Jewish anger.

“Our understanding was that … the Church was going to wait to take further steps until the relevant Vatican archives were opened, allowing scholars to clarify this controversial period in Church history and Pius’s position during the Holocaust,” she said. The head of archives, Bishop Sergio Pagano, told reporters last July that it was likely to take another five or six years before the materials could be made accessible to scholars.

“It is regrettable that the Vatican has chosen to act before all the relevant documents are available to researchers,” Rosenberg said.

Jewish leaders were also angered that the Vatican chose to announce the acceleration in the process to canonise Pius XII just a month before Benedict XVI is to make his first visit to Rome’s major synagogue. So far, the announcement does not appear to have put the 17 January visit in jeopardy. But a source close to Rome’s chief rabbi, Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, said both the announcement and its timing had “hit a raw nerve”.

Dr. Di Segni declined to comment, saying that this was an “extremely delicate” issue for Jews in Rome and around the world.

Pius XII was one of 17 people whose canonisation processes moved forward on Shabbos. Others included Benedict XVI’s most recent predecessor, Pope John Paul II, whose canonisation cause he opened only weeks after his death in April 2005.

{The Independent/Noam Newscenter}


  1. Why do we make such an issue?
    If the roles would have been reversed would we care?
    Perhaps from now on, we should do Teshuva, and start caring for other ethnicities, just as much as we care about ourselves.

  2. Jews should not voice any opinion on who the Roman Church should or should not beatify. Jews and others should only publicize on-the-record facts about the person. We live in an age of information and those who will hear that so and so was beatified by the Pope, will also hear about the subject’s complete reputation. If the Church wants to make a saint out of a wicked person, it will only discredit itself.

  3. why are we so upset. every pope was and is a jew hater noting new in the Church they are the ones that inspired & instigated progrom on jews