JERUSALEM, MARCH 5, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The International Institute for Holocaust Research of the Yad Vashem and a Salesian study institute will join to evaluate the investigation on Pope Pius XII and the Shoah.
The Studium Theologicum Salesianum will join with the research group from Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial for two days of research this Sunday and Monday.
Salesian Father Francesco De Ruvo told ZENIT that “historians will come together who will share the results of their investigations to respond to a series of questions that affect the current controversy.”
Yad Vashem has a caption regarding Pius XII that attributes to the Pope “silence and the absence of guidelines” during the Holocaust, something which many historians, including Jewish ones, say is blatantly false.
The study session will occur as Benedict XVI prepares his May visit to the Holy Land and a stop at Yad Vashem.
“In recent years, many books and new articles have been published, and as a result, new material has been presented that permits bringing to light new aspects, which should be looked at and synthesized to see if there are novelties and if something should be revised,” Father De Ruvo explained.
Among the themes to be considered are the period before Pius XII’s papacy, relations with the German bishops, Pius XII and the Holocaust, the situation of Italy during the Holocaust, and the period following the Holocaust.
Those who will participate include Sergio Minerbi, Paul O’Shea, Michael Phayer, Susan Zuccotti, Thomas Brechenmacher, Jean-Dominique Durand, Grazia Loparco, Matteo Luigi Napolitano and Andrea Tornielli.
“For some,” Father De Ruvo noted, “[Pius XII] has been an indifferent spectator of the Holocaust who, with his silence, became an accomplice of the tremendous tragedy that was occurring. Other investigators and historians, on the other hand, have affirmed for some time now a totally different thesis, which offers a positive evaluation of the work of Pius XII: He worked to limit with every possible means the effects of the Holocaust, sometimes achieving efficacious results.”
This latter position, the Salesian continued, “is based on archived historical documents and spoken and written testimonies of the protagonists. The historians who exalt the action of Pius XII in the saving of the Jews propose their conclusions regardless of their ethical or religious belonging. Among them there are many Jewish scholars.”
Father De Ruvo said that “a climate of cordial and respectful listening has been maintained till now among the institutions involved in this initiative which, as everyone hopes, will lead to an understanding of the current text that can be seen in the Yad Vashem.”