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The Journal News
Thursday, April 27, 2000 111
Recent Jewish criticism of Pope Pius XII ignores earlier praise
On July 31, 1944, the American Jewish Committee organized a Note the many eloquent rally at Madison Square Park in tributes that Pius XII Manhattan to mobilize public opinion against the Nazi deportaDnce received from Jews tion of Hungarian Jews. In his DIMITRI A. CAVALLI address, Judge Joseph Proskauer, Once again, several Jewish or- the committee's president, deganizations have expressed disap- clared, "We have heard ... what pointment with Pope John Paul a great part the Holy Father has [I because he refuses to apologize played in the salvation of the for the "silence" of Pope Pius XII refugees in Italy, and we know luring the Holocaust. Unfortu- from sources that must be crednately, the many eloquent trib- ited that this great Pope has utes that Pius XII once received reached forth his mighty and from Jews are never explained. sheltering hand to help the opFor example, in his Aug. 4, pressed of Hungary." 1942, letter to Pius XII, Chief On Oct. 11, 1945, the World Rabbi Miroslav Freiberger of Jewish Congress donated $20,000 Croatia appreciated "the limitless to Vatican charities. According to goodness that the representatives the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of the Holy See and the leaders of (Oct. 12, 1945), the donation recthe church showed to our poor ognized "the work of the Holy brothers." See in securing the rescue of On Feb. 28, 1944, Chief Rabbi Jews from Fascist and Nazi perIsaac Herzog of Jerusalem wrote, secution .. .'-'• In another gesture "The people of Israel will never of thanks, the Israeli Philharmonforget what His Holiness and His ic Orchestra performed a concert illustrious delegates ... are doing at the Vatican on May 26,1955. for our unfortunate brothers and When Pope Pius XII died on sisters ... "On April 1, 1944, Chief Oct 8, 1958, many Jews around Rabbi Alexander Shafran of Ro- the world mourned his passing. In mania acknowledged the "con- the October 1958 edition of the cern of the supreme Pontiff, who Anti-Defamation League's Bulleoffered a large, sum to relieve the tin, Dr. Joseph Lichten recalled sufferings of deported Jews ..." that the pope's "opposition to A July 14, 1944, editorial in the Nazism and his efforts to help Congress Weekly, the official jour- Jews in Europe were well known nal of the American Jewish Con- to the suffering world." gress, noted that the "liberation of If Pius XII sympathized with Rome brought to light the fact the Nazis and did nothing to stop that 7,000 Roman Jews owe their the Holocaust, then why did so lives to the Vatican." many Jews repeatedly praise COMMUNITY VIEW: him? Were those Jews blissfully his many wartime speeches, and ignorant or extremely disingenu- how they were received by both sides. In his memoirs, Francois ous? Many of the same Jewish or- Charles-Roux, the French Repubganizations that condemn the lic's ambassador to the Vatican, pope today had previously hon- described the pope's first encyclicored him. These organizations al, Summi Pontificatus, as a conhave never explained what exact- demnation of "exacerbated naly caused them to change their tionalism, the idolatry of state, minds about him. Additionally, totalitarianism, racism, the cult of many of the same voices who brutal force, contempt of internausually insist on the absolute se- tional agreements . . . all the charparation of church and state seem acteristics of Hitler's political systo be the ones who are obsessed tem ..." with "the silence of Pius XII." In response to Pius XII's 1942 As for the pope's "silence," . Christmas message, a Jan. 22, there is no discussion today about 1943, report by the Reich Central Security Office complained: "In a manner never known before, the Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order . . . Here he is virtually accusing the German people of injustice towards the Jews, and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals." If the pope was "silent," then how did the Nazis reach this conclusion? Pope Pius XII also took direct action. In 1940, he acted as an intermediary between a group of German generals who wanted to overthrow Adolf Hitler and the British government. On the pope's orders, the Vatican's diplomatic representatives in many Nazi-occupied and Axis nations frequently intervened on behalf of endangered Jews. How can anyone seriously dispute these facts? Certainly, the baseless allegations against Pope Pius XII will always be a useful weapon for anti-Catholics who wish to smear and discredit the Catholic Church. The church can respond by educating the public with the actual facts of the case, and create legitimate dialogue with Jews in order to separate fact from fiction, truth from politics, and scholarship from propaganda.
The writer is a Bronx resident.