Nineteen in letter voice ‘serious concerns’ about
fast-tracking of Shoah-era pope’s canonization.
The largely Jewish effort to slow down the proposed canonization of the pope who headed the Catholic Church during World War II has taken a more ecumenical tone.
Nineteen prominent Catholic scholars and theologians last week sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, urging him to put aside plans to declare Pius XII, the controversial pontiff during the Holocaust, a saint until historians gain full access to the Vatican’s wartime archives. The letter, intended as an internal Church document, was leaked to Reuters in Rome and subsequently made public.
To save or not to save Jews. That is the question suddenly embroiling leading Catholic theologians.
On one side are progressive Catholic scholars who believe that in the 21st century it is no longer theologically acceptable to include Jews in the Church's global mission of conversion. That would mean accepting that Jews have their own legitimate path to salvation.
Rejecting this historic new approach are traditional Catholic leaders who insist that Jews still ultimately need to accept the divinity of Jesus to be saved, and Catholics must continue to proselytize them.
Nearly 40 years ago, Rolf Hochhuth’s play “The Deputy” accused Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII of moral cowardice and indifference while millions of Europe’s Jews were being murdered.
The German playwright’s work triggered a worldwide wave of anti-Pius XII criticism, prompting the Vatican — in an unprecedented move — to unlock some of its secret wartime archives in an attempt to refute the charges, arguing he worked behind the scenes to save Jews and did not speak out for fear of a backlash against Catholics and Jews.