12 January 2010
Holocaust survivors have asked Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni to tell Pope Benedict of their pain at his advancement of the case of Pope Pius XII toward beatification during the visit of Catholic pontiff to Rome's main synagogue on Sunday. "The decision by Pope Benedict to advance the candidacy of Pius to sainthood sent shock waves throughout the dwindling worldwide community of Holocaust survivors," the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants wrote in a letter to Di Segni, according to the ‘Reuters’ news agency.
Last month, Pope Benedict approved a decree recognizing the "heroic virtues" of Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958 and who stands accused by some of not speaking out against the Holocaust. "We believe that the Pope should be received with a loving heart and open arms. In that spirit however, fidelity to truth and memory must be vigorously affirmed," the letter reportedly says, adding: "There were those who courageously aided and spoke out on behalf of the innocent Jewish victims – including much of the Italian nation and individual Catholic institutions. Alas, the Vatican has produced no documents to show Pius was among them."
In a statement last month, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder declared: “As long as the archives of Pope Pius about the crucial period 1939 to 1945 remain closed, and until a consensus on his actions – or inaction – concerning the persecution of millions of Jews in the Holocaust is established, a beatification is inopportune and premature. While it is entirely a matter for the Catholic Church to decide on whom religious honors are bestowed, there are strong concerns about Pope Pius XIIs political role during World War II which should not be ignored.”
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