Jewish-Catholic relations set to chill in 2010

An online petition has been launched (ht/ Ruth Gledhill) to protest the beatification of Pope Pius XII, expected next October together with that of Pope John Paul II.

The decision by Pope Benedict XVI to proceed with the beatification, made just before Christmas, has led to a spate of Jews spitting at Christians in Jerusalem.


The evidence is, in fact, considerable that Pius XII did an enormous amount to assist Jews facing Nazi persecution, both practically and prophetically -- but Jewish sceptics insist that only when the relevant Vatican archives are made available can that conclusion be reached.

Their case rests on the myth that Vatican archives are being kept "secret". The new petition for example calls on the Pope "to suspend the beatification process for Pope Pius XII until still-secret Vatican archives from World War II are declassified and made fully accessible". But they are not secret, and they do not need to be declassified. The problem is that they have not yet been catalogued -- a massive exercise which has only recently been completed for the pontificate of Pius XI. 

In spite of this, and in order to satisfy Jewish demands, the Vatican fast-tracked the cataloguing of 12 volumes of Pius XII archives and made them available to a joint Catholic-Jewish panel of six historians to study. But the panel fell apart after its Jewish members complained that they weren't being given access to the "full" records. (See the statement in Osservatore Romano by the Pius XII relator, Fr Peter Gumpel SJ, here).

Pope Benedict has not been rushed into the decision to beatify Pius XII: he has studied the evidence and taken advice for two years. He knows that the archives, when they are finally catalogued and studied, will not contradict the evidence that Pius XII assisted the Jews.

But that won't stop Jewish-Catholic relations becoming more tense in 2010, with likely repercussions (because everything here is interrelated) on Vatican-Israeli relations. That may make it harder for Rome to speak out more forcefully against the Israeli strangulation of Bethlehem and the annexation of Palestinian Christian lands.

On the other hand, a little tough talking on both sides may make it easier to name a few uncomfortable truths.

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Claire Mathieu
9 years ago
This entire blog post is based on the premise that we can trust the Vatican. But why should we? There are plenty of counterexamples. Certainly, the Jewish community have no reason for trust. As for Catholics, trusting people's word without an independent verification is a dangerous attitude.
Remember Reagan: ''Trust, but verify!''
Paul Heimann
9 years ago
"Trust, but verify" really means, "Don't trust."  There's no way around that.  While I can appreciate that trusting the Vatican is difficult for those who have not witnessed the beauty of the Catholic Church, it would be difficult for someone who knows this beauty to approach the Vatican with suspicion.
Even so, where is the evidence against Pius XII?  As the author here notes, the case against him is based on supposedly withheld documents, that is, based on documentation that may or may not exist.  Usually, reasonable people form opinions on people based on what is known, not by making up a bunch of stuff and then waiting to be proved wrong.  But if you're inclined to suspect without reason, you can always maintain that there's still more to know that someone isn't telling.
Miguel Delgado
9 years ago
Nice how Jews tend to put all things around them. If Pope Pius legacy has to be seen through the eyes of the Jew history, then it's all lost. Easy to ask everybody to be pro jewish now after 60 years.
John Stehn
9 years ago
The world reaction to Pope Pius XII’s efforts to save Jews and other marginalized peoples from the Nazi’s is well documented, both during and after the war, in the general historical record.  Jews were among the most vocal lauders of his efforts during and after the war.  The only group who wasn’t lauding Piux XII after the war were the Italian communists, who feared him and the Church.  As time has gone on, and as private records have been released by the Holy See, more details have emerged which show his private interventions to save Jews and others.  He used his personal finances to ransom Jews and Gypsies from the Nazi’s and Italian fascists.  There is no evidence to support anything other than what everyone knew back in 1945.  The man was a hero.
The real story here is the hypocritical chutzpah of the vast majority of Jews when it comes to historical denial.  God help anyone, no matter what their professional historical credentials, for questioning anything that touches on the history of the Holocaust.  Such persons are vilified, subjected to vicious attacks, and are called unreformed haters.  Governments (read Germany) will put you in jail for such things.  And yet, when Jews deny an undeniable fact of history, ie; the role of the Catholic Church in general, and Pope Pius XII in particular, in the saving of Jewish lives from the Nazi machine, no one says a word.  No threats…no coercion, no lawsuits, nothing.  Pure…absolute…hypocrisy.  They can deny history, but no one else can.  There is a powerful story here that no one seems to want to write.  Shame.
9 years ago
Your post seems pretty biased in favor of those for beatification of Pius .... there is evidence  against the idea that Pius helped the Jews, as well as for ..... the International Catholic-Jewish panel's  has reasons for disbanding given by both sides but you only give the Catholic version.  And if Jews in Jerusalem are spitting at Christians, I doubt the animosity comes anywhere close to the centuries of anti-Semitism they have had to endure from Christians.
James Dominic James
9 years ago
On the idea of linking the spitting to the Pius XII stuff:
According to Allen's piece, ''Such incidents have been occurring for the last twenty years and are now on the rise.'' But the ''rise'' that is referred to is reported by one saliva-coated witness to have occurred over the last six months. To tie a six month period of more frequent spitting to the Pius XII stuff will require more evidence.
Yet, I could be misunderstanding the exact sense of Iverleigh's ''The decision by Pope Benedict XVI to proceed with the beatification, made just before Christmas, led to a spate of Jews spitting at Christians in Jerusalem.'' Maybe the focus is not the *spate of Jews spitting* but the *spate over the Jews spitting* that is, the issuing of a disapproving statement about the spitting by a couple important Jewish religious figures, which did occur close in time with the Pius XII stuff. But even then, is the timing of the statement about the long-running increase in the spitting upon Christians caused by the Pius XII stuff? Maybe six months of more frequent spitting was just getting too gross and reached a point of crisis, at which point it was publicly addressed from above, apart from any Vatican stuff.
John Kolar
9 years ago
Why are these causes being rushed?  The Church used to take quite awhile to declare new saints.  I cannot help but think that recent saint causes are being rushed for politico-theological reasons: certain groups want to elevate conservative Church icons and to slow down more liberal figures, such as Archbishop Romero.  I think taking time is probably a good thing.  As we all observe, with time even the most well-kept secrets emerge.  I don't say that because I think any secrets are actively being kept hidden in regard to our recent Popes; it's just that taking time always makes for wiser decisions.  Those who want to rush these canonizations undoubtedly wish to do so as part of an agenda.  Why such a hurry?
Andrea Goldstein
9 years ago
In response to Miguel Delgado (post #5),
I have no issue with your disagreement with those who are opposed to the beatification of Pope Pius XII. That is your opinion and you have every right to express it. But shame on you and your mean spirited and bigoted quotes: 1)"Nice how Jews tend to put all things around them." 2)"Jew history"
Your words are poison to your own soul and spirit. Remember Miguel, that Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, John, James, Peter, Stephen, Paul...should I go on? All were Israelites. All were Jews. All were followers of the torah. Think before your write and post. Please be more thoughtful in the future.

9 years ago
Pope Pius XII creds have been critiqued since the 60s. If there is evidence in the Vatican archives that shows that he did saint-worthy ACTION for the even the Roman/Italian Jews let's see it. No Action = no beatification... and don't give the lame excuse that they need 50 years to 'find' the heroic action. Sainthood is about praxis.. not prudent non- praxis. Roosevelt turned back Jewish refugees and it has stained his legacy.
Andy Buechel
9 years ago
Maybe I missed a headline somewhere.  I had seen that both Pius and John Paul II were declared Venerable, but that still means they have to have authenticated miracles to proceed to beatification.  I have heard nothing about these, and usually they take quite a while to get through the process (though I could imagine that being sped up for these two).  Did an announcement on their beatification happen that I'd missed?  I mean, Paul VI has been venerable for years (I believe) and Isabella of Spain (of Columbus fame) has been for centuries, if I recall correctly.  Not to comment on the merits (or otherwise) of either, but just to point out that being declared venerable has no necessary connection to immediate beatification.  Again, unless I missed a memo.


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