Monday, October 20, 2008


The question that is being asked around the world is should Pope Pius the XII be granted sainthood by the Catholic Church?

The canonization is being opposed by Jewish groups given Pope Pius the XII’s seemingly lack of intervention on behalf of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust.

The Times (England) has published a letter submitted by six Catholic and three Jewish scholars asking the Catholic Church to continue to postpone the canonization process of Pope Pius XII.

The scholars write that they are: "deeply concerned about the impact of beatification/canonization on the remaining survivors of the Holocaust, making the rush to canonization seem inappropriate."

In Israel, the notion of the canonization has caused great protest from Holocaust survivors and scholars. This is no surprise given that Pope Pius XII is deemed by a plaque at Yad Vashem (Israel's Holocaust museum) as a bystander who did nothing to protect Rome's Jewish community members when they were deported to death camps.

The Catholic and Jewish scholars suggest, as many have, that the Vatican open its archives from the time period to study "whether the Pope did all he could and whether he did it soon enough."

Although I understand the response by Holocaust survivors and other Jews to the possible canonization, I think it's unnecessary. If the Catholic Church, with declining numbers, wants to remain relevant to its own, it must come to this decision from within, ignoring outside influence.

The evidence, as available thus far, is that Pope Pius XII's failed to use his vast power to try to act to protect Jews during the Holocaust, turning a blind eye to massacres even in predominantly Catholic countries.

The blind eye mentality also could be the cause of great Catholics suffering. Isn't it possible that this paradigm led to great inaction by Church leaders in response to revelations of sex abusing priest until victims began bringing law suits against the Church?

Unless the archives are opened, and unless they show that Pope Pius XII did indeed made a concerted effort to help Europe's Jews, the canonization of the Pope is not just a slap in the face to those who suffered under the Nazis, but more importantly to those who have suffered from clergy abuse.

It is an assertion that the Church still rewards those who stood by while others suffered, despite the assurances by leaders that the Church has turned a new leaf.

By not opening the archives, the Church is embracing the same culture of secrecy that led to priests abusing children for decades.

This is not an issue of dogma, this is not an issue of theology. To make this Pope a saint is to embrace a template of inaction in the face of evil.

Unless an examination of the archives proves differently.

sources: Letter from Scholars

Article about letter

An Israeli newspaper's coverage of the issue


Here is a poem/song written during the Holocaust. It was running through my head as
I researched and wrote this piece.


On a wagon bound for market
There's a calf with a mournful eye.
High above him there's a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky.

How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer's night.

"Stop complaining," said the farmer
"Who told you a calf to be?
Why don't you have wings to fly away with
like the swallow so proud and free?"

Calves are easily bound and slaughtered
Never knowing the reason why.
But whoever treasures freedom,
Like the swallow must learn to fly


dirk said...

Pius may have secretly helped some Jews survive, but for the duration of the Holocaust and even in the years afterward he stayed "neutral". Pius was possibly the greatest moral coward of our time. I would think if they promote Pius, Jewish groups should cut off relations. They think that we should disappear anyway, so it's no big loss.

Rachel Karp said...

The Vatican should open up its archives anyway because it has a monopoly on the knowledge therein that actually belongs to humanity.

But yes, the Catholic Church should really reconsider who they beatify in this day and age.