21 December 2009
World Jewish Congress criticizes Pope's decision to beatify controversial predecessor
NEW YORK/BRUSSELS – The World Jewish Congress (WJC) today criticized the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to pave the way for the beatification of his controversial war-time predecessor Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli), who was pontiff of the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958. WJC 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 XII’s political role during World War II which should not be ignored.”
Lauder called on the Vatican to immediately open all existing archives about the Pius era to international researchers in order to dispel doubts that still persist. “Given the importance of good relations between Catholics and the Jews, and following the difficult events of the past year, it would be appreciated if the Vatican showed more sensitivity on this matter,” he said.
The World Jewish Congress is the international organization representing the Jewish communities in 92 countries around the world. The WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to governments and international organizations, and it has in the past been at the forefront of dialogue with the Vatican.
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