Israel: Pius XII slandered at Yad Vashem

Source: FSSPX News


In the evening of Sunday, April 15, the official opening ceremony for the annual commemoration of the Shoah took place at the Yad Vashem Memorial, in Jerusalem, in the presence of foreign ambassadors.

In 2005, the museum, to which a new wing had been added, displayed a portrait of Pius XII, accompanied by a caption which affirmed that “Pius XII’s reaction with regard to the massacre of Jews at the time of the Holocaust was controversial (….). Though he was informed at the Vatican of the massacre of the Jews, the pope did not protest either orally or in writing… Even when Jews were being deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the pope did not intervene… He maintained his neutral position, except at the end of the war, when he made an appeal to the rulers of Hungary and Slovakia. His silence and failure to give direction, forced the clergy in Europe to make decisions independently regarding the attitude to adopt towards the persecution of the Jews.”

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio at that time, had immediately asked for the caption to be amended. The Memorial replied that they were prepared to study the attitude of Pius XII towards the Holocaust, if the Vatican agreed to open its Second World War archives to researchers.

On April 12 last, Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel, declared to the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth that he would not attend the annual commemorations of the Shoah at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, after having written to the director of the Memorial explaining his refusal to take part in this “Day of Remembrance”. The archbishop also announced to the Service of Religious Information (SIR), the press agency of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, his “painful renunciation” of the annual celebrations on the “Day of Remembrance” of the Shoah. Archbishop Franco had written to the director of the Memorial: “It grieves me to go to Yad Vashem and see how Pius XII is presented there […]. The photo should be removed or the caption modified. The pope certainly does not figure amongst those of whom we must be ashamed on account of their actions against the Jews. Pius XII has no reason to be ashamed, after all that he did to save Jews, something which is brought into relief by historical sources.”

“When I read the newspapers,” continued the nuncio, I categorically refused to say that there was any responsibility on the part of the Catholic Church or the Holy See in the refusal to help the Jews, when I consider all that has been done. This photo is an offence to the whole Catholic Church. This is what I wanted to make known. “My absence from the ceremony does not signify any lack of respect for the memory of the victims of this tragedy.”

In response, the Yad Vashem Memorial published an official communiqué: “We are shocked and disappointed that the Vatican representative in Israel chose not to respect the memory of the Holocaust and not to take part in the official ceremony during which the State of Israel and the Jewish people commemorate the victims. This contradicts the declarations of the Pope (John Paul II) who, on the occasion of his visit to Yad Vashem, had emphasized the importance of remembering the Holocaust and its victims.” “Yad Vashem devotes itself to historical research and the Holocaust Museum presents the historical truth about Pius XII as it is known today to researchers. Yad Vashem told the Vatican representative that it was ready to further examine the issue, stressing that if it were given access to the archives of Pius XII it would gladly study them, so as to learn of possible new information different from that known today.”

On March 23, 2000, John Paul II, visited the mausoleum built in memory of the Holocaust on Mount Herzl, in the western part of Jerusalem. At that time, the pope declared: “The Catholic Church, moved by the Gospel law of truth and love, and not by political considerations, is deeply saddened by the hatred, the acts of persecution, and manifestations of Anti-Semitism, directed against Jews by Christians in all times and in all places.”

On April 15, Archbishop Antonio Franco reversed his decision after receiving a letter from Avner Shalev, the president of the Memorial who promised to reconsider the manner in which Pius XII is presented at the Memorial. “Since my action was not to distance myself from the celebrations, but to call attention to the way the Pope was presented, my goal was achieved.” “I have no reason to keep this tension going, and therefore I will participate in the ceremony,” added the archbishop.

Fr. Peter Gumpel, S.J., the postulator of the cause for Pius XII’s beatification and an expert in the history of the relationship between the Holy See and Germany between 1930 and 1950, told Zenit Agency: “We must take into account the fact that Pius XII is esteemed and honored by millions of persons, even among the Jews, who deem what is written in the caption, offensive and contrary to historical facts.” “Besides, at the Yad Vashem Memorial, the greatest majority of the “Just” are members of the Catholic religion. Among the many priests, religious Sisters and Brothers there represented, many lost their lives while saving Jews.” “Jewish institutions themselves have proved that it was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, who had set up a network of assistance to protect and save the Jews from persecutions. There are many books on this topic.”