Wiesenthal Center Dismayed by Pope Benedict’s Praise of Pius XII Role During Nazi Holocaust

November 22, 2010

Officials at the Simon Wiesenthal Center were dismayed to hear that Pope Benedict XVI, in his soon-to-be published book, praised the efforts of Pope Pius XII to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The Vatican has put Pius XII is on the path to sainthood, a direction that has upset the Jewish community, including the Center, worldwide.

“We do not agree with the Pope’s assessment of Pius XII’s role during the Nazi period—no one was more informed about was taking place. At no time during the critical years from 1939-1943 did he play any significant role in attempting to rescue Europe’s Jews. On the contrary, he was totally silent,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center.

“Had he signed rather than hidden the encyclical condemning anti-Semitism that his predecessor, Pius XI, wrote, the course of the Holocaust may have been altered. Instead, it remained hidden, never coming to the attention of the world until 1974,” he added.

“Normally it is not the business of the Jews who the Catholic Church designates a saint, but Pius XII is the exception. If he attains sainthood, then our children and grandchildren would be taught in our schools that when the greatest crime in the history of mankind was taking and six million Jews were murdered, a saint was sitting on the throne of St. Peter,” Rabbi Hier concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe, and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter
, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.