Italy: Controversy surrounding Rabbi Zolli, a convert to Catholicism

Source: FSSPX News


Amongst those in the firing line of Minerbi, who is currently professor of history at the University of Tel Aviv, are: “Communion and liberation, Opus Dei and many others”. The Israeli ruminates angrily in Il Giornale of February 21 2004, over the publication in Italy on February 13, with great hype, of the autobiography of Israel Eugenio Zolli, chief rabbi of Rome during the Second World War, and convert to Catholicism in 1945.

For the former ambassador, the publication in Italian of the autobiography of Zolli, which came out in 1945 in the United States, is a “maneuver” which comes in the same context as the beatifications of Pius XII and Isabelle the Catholic and the release of the Mel Gibson film, with its anti-Semitist evocation of the Passion”.

“To revive Zolli is to show the Jews the direct way to conversion,” continued Minerbi, who concluded, “with the election of the next Pope in mind, the conservative Catholics want to work together on several points, to condition the future politic and put up barriers against the decisions of Vatican II concerning dialogue with the Jews”.

This diatribe of Sergio Minerbi came in reply to Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican journalist of the daily Il Giornale, and author in 2001 of Pio XII, Il Papa degli Ebrei (Pius XII, Pope of the Jews). In an article of February 13, 2004, Tornielli wrote that the Jews of the Roman Ghetto could have saved themselves on October 16, 1943, at the moment of the Nazi raid, but did not do so “through negligence, underestimation and procrastination in the face of the painstaking unfolding of the holocaust”. “There are too many who always prefer to throw the blame for these deeds at the Church and her silence,” said the journalist.

For his part, the historian Gian Maria Vian, in the Catholic daily L’Avvenire of February 13, hailed the appearance of Zolli’s autobiography in Italian, Il battesimo del rabbino. Citing the text of the autobiography, he insisted on the fact that the baptism of Israel Zolli under the name of Eugenio was not, for the rabbi, a recognition of the actions of Pius XII in favor of the Jews of Rome. Zolli considered, however, that “no hero in history has ever commanded an army more ready to fight or more heroic, than that led in battle by Pius XII in the name of Christian charity”. The autobiography of Zolli is above all “the story of a passion for God, incarnate in Christ”, stressed Gian Maria Vian.