Pius XII Caption Not Keeping Pope Out of Israel

Vatican Says Issue Is Relevant, Not Decisive

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A photo caption critical of Pius XII at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem is not what is keeping Benedict XVI from traveling to the Holy Land, said a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, released a statement Saturday in which he clarified that while the museum’s negative portrayal of Pius XII is relevant, «this fact cannot be regarded as decisive in regard to [Benedict XVI’s] possible trip to the Holy Land.»

He added that the Pontiff wishes to travel there, but that no specific plans have been made.

Archbishop Antonio Franco, the apostolic nuncio to Israel, has openly objected to the caption that first appeared in the Holocaust museum in 2005. It says that Pius XII had «recognized» the Nazi regime, and that «even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the Pope did not protest.»

Pius «maintained his neutral position» with two exceptions, the caption says, criticizing «his silence and absence of guidelines.» The exceptions were appeals to the rulers of Hungary and Slovakia toward the end of the war.

Father Lombardi said the Vatican wishes that the caption «be the subject of a new objective and in-depth consideration on the part of museum officials.»

In regard to the beatification of Pius XII, the Vatican spokesman repeated “what has recently been said: That the Pope has not yet signed the decree about the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Pius XII, a signature that is necessary for the further progress of the cause.»

“This,” he concluded, “is for him an object of continued study and reflection and in this situation it is not opportune to try to apply pressure in one direction or another.”

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