Monday, April 16, 2007

Vatican Veracity: My heart is heavy at this time of year. Although I was born before the Shoah it has always, since I was a child, formed my politics and my character. It was, I believe, perhaps, even THE defining moment in history of the Jewish people.

I was dismayed at the Vatican's dispute with Israel with respect to attending the Holocaust memorial because they did not like the swirling questions surrounding Pius XII's response or lack of it to the Holocaust. I wrote the email below to the Vatican:

It is dismaying that a dispute has arisen between the Vatican and Israel because the Vatican did not like the swirling questions many Jews and others have surrounding Pius XII's response or lack of it to the Holocaust. As a Jew whose politics has been shaped by the tragic events of WWII, I am supremely suspect of the Vatican's position with respect to the sanctity of Pius XII. I am suspect because any time institutions of power refuse to release ALL their information regarding a specific subject it emphatically gives the appearance that they have something to hide. It raises my suspicion.

If those secret documents could exonerate the wartime Pope then one would think the Vatican would rush to release them to settle the controversy surrounding Pius's involvement in the events of the Holocaust. Conversely, if there are embarrassing documents that indicate the Vatican through Pius XII was complicit in the horror, well, indeed, the unequivocal hypocrisy and the utter unconscionable attempt to make Pius XII a saint would be more dastardly than words can describe.

Until we know exactly what ALL the documents in the Vatican say about Pius XII and the Church of that era, until NONE is hidden from view and until the Vatican is honest, then the Jewish people and the world will never really know what Pius XII did or did not do; we will always have a question as to Pius XII's complicit acquiescence and indeed his contribution to the events of the Holocaust.

Pius was a rabid anti-Communist which leads me to think that the rise of fascist states in Europe such as Nazi Germany and Italy was possibly not that abhorrent to Pius XII. Fascists, of course, have been notoriously anti-Communist. I suspect, although I do not know this for a fact, that Pius XII thought perhaps the right wing dictatorships emerging were not so bad. Maybe he thought they were better than Communist states and if it meant sacrificing Jews he may have concluded so be it. The historical credo of the Church indicting the Jews for the killing of Christ could have given rationale in his mind that the Jews somehow deserved to suffer their fate. Maybe he thought, too, that Germany and Italy were anti-Communist states so he did not want to offend them by coming out vociferously against Nazi policies vis a vie the "Jewish question." I do not possess a great deal of evidence to affirm my suspicions since the Vatican refuses to release the pertinent documents but I tentatively conclude, because of the few statements I have read by Pius XII, that he did not do enough if anything to challenge what was to be the Jewish fate.

One would think a policy which resulted in the extermination of 2/3rds of the Jews of Europe would invite resounding criticism and outrage by a Pope. It appears it did not. The intense secrecy of the Vatican today makes my suspicion seem correct because the Vatican remains an institution which hides many of the documents relating the events of its history. Until the Vatican opens those documents up for close inspection and scrutiny for all the world to see or worse if it shreds them, I will always think Pius XII was part of the horrendous acts of that era and part of the attempted genocide of the Jews! To make him a saint in view of that would be more insulting and despicable than my words have the ability to convey. Perhaps, you can prove my suspicions wrong through release of the pertinent evidence.