US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Holy war over war-time pope

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Though not on the radar screen of most Catholics, the actions (or lack thereof) of Pope Pius XII during World War II are straining Catholic-Jewish relations. At issue is whether Pius XII should take the first step on the road to canonization: The papers to make Pius a "servant of God" (step 1) have been on the pope's desk for some months, though groups of both Jews and Catholics strongly oppose Pius' advance to the altars. (For a taste, see this argument against Pius' cause that appeared in the U.K. Times.)

The Associated Press reports today that a Jewish group at the Vatican asked the pope to place consideration of Pius sanctity on hold until millions of documents from the Vatican archives can be made available. The Vatican claims those documents, numbering in the millions, won't be catalogued until 2014.

This seems a no-brainer to me: Pius will be no better or worse off whether he's canonized or not, but continuing down the road to his canonization will do immeasurable damage to Catholicism's warm yet fragile relationship with Judaism. Time to table the question until history can really speak for itself.