Israel objects to beatification of Holocaust-era pope

Thursday, October 23, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

In a highly unprecedented move, a top Israeli cabinet minister has publicly objected to the proposed beatification of a historic Catholic figure - Pope Pius XII, who sat on the "throne of St. Peter" during the Nazi Holocaust.

Pius has been widely criticized, by both Jews and Christians, for keeping silent while the Nazis marched six million of Europe's Jews to the gas chambers.

It is believed Pius could have saved at least several thousand Jews had he publicly condemned and put the full diplomatic weight of the Vatican behind opposing the actions of the Nazis.

In an interview with Ha'aretz, Israeli Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, who is also responsible for Diaspora affairs and relations with the Christian world, said that "the intent to turn Pius XII into a saint is unacceptable."

Herzog said that Israel's objection stems from the fact that "throughout the period of the Holocaust, the Vatican knew very well what was happening in Europe. Yet there is no evidence of any step being taken by the pope."

"Instead of acting according to the biblical verse 'thou shalt not stand against the blood of thy neighbor,' the pope kept silent - and perhaps even worse," continued Herzog.

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