Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic World News

Jewish leaders criticize declaration of Pius XII’s heroic virtue

December 21, 2009

Jewish leaders have criticized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints’ December 19 decree that declared Pope Pius XII lived a life of heroic virtue.

“I don't want to believe that Catholics see in Pius XII an example of morality for humankind,” said French Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim. “Given Pius XII's silence during and after the Shoah, I hope that the Church will renounce this beatification plan and will thus honor its message and its values.”

“This is a clear hijacking of historical facts concerning the Nazi era,” said Stephan Kramer, who heads Germany's Central Jewish Council. “Benedict XVI rewrites history without having allowed a serious scientific discussion. That's what makes me furious.”

“We hope that the confirmation of the 'holy virtues' of Pius XII is a desire on Pope Benedict's part only to highlight the religious sincerity of his predecessor and not to suggest a 'fast track' to beatification,” added American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris. “True, the Vatican should determine who its saints are, but the Church's repeated insistence that it seeks mutually respectful ties with the Jewish community also means taking our sensitivities into account on the Holocaust era.”

The Israeli government did not question the decree but called upon the Vatican to open the archives of the pontiff’s wartime years. “The beatification process does not concern us. It's a matter that only concerns the Catholic Church,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “The role of Pius XII is for historians to evaluate, and we therefore urge the opening of the archives of the Vatican during World War II.”

In Italy, at least one Jewish leader questioned whether renewed tensions could prompt a postponement of the Pope's scheduled January visit to Rome's synagogue.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: - Dec. 22, 2009 9:39 AM ET USA

    What bothers me about these Jewish leaders criticism is that it comes in the same old style, that is, the 2000 years old Jewish response against anything Christian-catholic. They postulates that any religious business should be conducted according to Jewish understanding and approval. If not any conduct must be rejected and deemed wrong by society. This was the way Jewish leaders addressed Jesus himself and has come unscattered throughout human history. Those who repeat history repeat it again.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 22, 2009 1:16 AM ET USA

    Have they read David Dalin's book, and if so have they researched his assertions and supporting evidence and shown them to be false?

  • Posted by: DJM749 - Dec. 21, 2009 8:10 PM ET USA

    I thought the Vatican Archives covering the Pius XII years *had* been opened back in the 90's, to a joint Jewish-Christian team of researchers specifically tasked with studying the war-time actions of the Pope. Surely the Israeli government is aware of that?

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Dec. 21, 2009 7:37 PM ET USA

    These "Jewish Leaders" remind me of the Sanhedrin nearly 2000 years ago. They didn't recognize the Truth then, and they don't now.

  • Posted by: imanxufan9901 - Dec. 21, 2009 5:56 PM ET USA

    Why do I not care what some Jews think.

  • Posted by: Defender - Dec. 21, 2009 2:45 PM ET USA

    I'm not so sure about those who are complaining being "Jewish leaders." It seems the real Jewish leaders are those who hailed Pius XII after his death for all that he had done. It also seems that those who are currently complaining are not very well read, elsewise they would have read the overwhelming evidence confiring the fact that Pius XII saved many.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Dec. 21, 2009 10:21 AM ET USA

    These Jewish leaders ought to be confronted head-on and not be given any credibility. Continued calumnies against Pope Pius XII are indicative of bad faith on their part. The Deputy/Cornwall theses have been totally discredited. Their campaign is simply cover to attack the Gospel/Church/and papacy.