World Jewish Congress slams Benedict over wartime pope sainthood

22nd December 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Catholic Church argues that Pius saved many Jews who were hidden away in religious institutions, and that his silence was born out of a wish to avoid aggravating their situation.

Brussels -- The World Jewish Congress on Monday hit out at weekend Vatican moves to raise controversial wartime pope Pius XII to sainthood.

"As long as the archives of Pope Pius about the crucial period 1939 to 1945 remain closed, and until a consensus on his actions -- or inaction -- concerning the persecution of millions of Jews in the Holocaust is established, a beatification is inopportune and premature," said WJC President Ronald Lauder in a statement.

He added that "strong concerns about Pope Pius XII's political role during World War II... should not be ignored."

The Vatican sparked anger amongst the Jewish community on Saturday with moves to nudge Pius -- whose beatification process was launched in 1967 -- closer to sainthood.

The head of Germany's Central Jewish Council, Stephan Kramer, said the Vatican's stance on Pius was "a clear hijacking of historical facts concerning the Nazi era."

The Catholic Church argues that Pius saved many Jews who were hidden away in religious institutions, and that his silence was born out of a wish to avoid aggravating their situation.

German Pope Benedict XVI -- once a member of the Hitler Youth -- earlier on Monday condemned the Holocaust as being inspired by "the hatred of a blind ideology," two days after he declared Pius "venerable."

AFP/Expatica

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