Jews, Catholics Want Calm on Pius XII Issue

Joint Statement Urges Mutual Respect

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BUDAPEST, Hungary, NOV. 14, 2008 ( Exacerbating tensions regarding controversial issues is contrary to the desire of a panel of Jews and Catholics working for growing rapprochement between the two creeds, a joint statement affirmed.

The statement came at the end of the 20th meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews and the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, which took place Sunday through Wednesday in Budapest.

The affirmation was particularly in regard to reports and statements made about the role Pope Pius XII played in speaking out against the Holocaust.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which oversees the Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews, and Rabbi David Rosen, the co-chairs of the committee, declared: “We reiterate our commitment to a relationship based on mutual respect and sensitivity. Disagreements between us which inevitably occur from time to time must always be expressed in a manner that reflects this spirit and not in language that only exacerbates tension.”

Cardinal Kasper assured during the meeting that the concerns of Jewish parties have been clearly conveyed to the Holy See at the highest levels.

On Oct. 30, the request was made by the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations at a papal audience with Benedict XVI that all archival material be made available for independent scholarly review before any far-reaching decisions are made by the Holy See concerning persons and policies during the period of the Second World War.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, soon afterward clarified that the Holy See is working to catalogue the archives in question so that they can be opened to expert review. But he warned that the sheer number of documents (some 16 million from the 1939-1958 pontificate) would take six to seven years to prepare at the current rate of progress.

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