Yad Vashem Changes Reference to Pius XII

New Text Notes Churchs Efforts to Save Jews

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By Sergio Mora

ROME, JULY 2, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The management of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, has changed the text of the plaque in which Pope Pius XII was criticized.

The text, which presented the Pontiff as silent before the Nazi atrocity, created a diplomatic incident in 2007.

Given the text, the Apostolic Nuncio in Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, nearly refused to take part in the ceremony of the Day of Remembrance, when the victims of the Holocaust are commemorated.

Father Peter Gumpel, postulator of the cause of beatification of Pius XII, recalled that “even the Jewish scholar Sir Martin Gilbert, the greatest historian of the Shoah, requested the removal of the plaque against the Pope.”

The text that was the subject of the controversy said that the Servant of God, Pius XII, did not denounce racism and anti-Semitism, did not protest about what the Nazis were doing against the Jews, and did not intervene when they were deported from Rome.

The new text, instead, presents Pius XII's role as something that has caused debate. It mentions, for example, that already in 1942 in the course of the Christmas radio-message, Pope Pius XII mentioned the “hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault of their own, at times only for reasons of nationality or race, are destined to death or to progressive deterioration.”

The new text mentions that the Catholic Church carried out a considerable number of rescue activities to save Jews. It also recognizes that Pope Pius XII himself intervened to encourage the rescue activities and the safeguarding of the Jews.

Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, commented to ZENIT: “It is good news, even if Pius XII will not become suddenly a saint for them, but the situation will certainly be better. Now they present the Pontiff indicating that his work is still the object of great discussions.”

The news of the change of the text of the stone was published in the daily Haaretz.

The president of the New York-based Pave the Way foundation, Gary Krupp, just spoke with ZENIT about researchers' efforts to restore the reputation of Pius XII. Krupp has long advocated a change in the text at Yad Vashem.