A two-day workshop reviewing the state of research regarding Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust wraps up this afternoon in Jerusalem.
Letâ€™s hope it can help dispel some of the false claims about Pius that have deceived many Jews into believing that the wartime Pope, who was regarded as a hero after the Second World War by Jewish leaders for his efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust, didnâ€™t do enough to help the Jews.
The Jerusalem conference is cosponsored by Yad Vashemâ€™s International Institute for Holocaust research and the Studium Theologicum Salesianum, Saints Peter and Paul.
Yad Vashem was established in 1953 by the state of Israel as the official organization charged with documenting the history of the Holocaust. The Studium Theologicum Salesianum is a Salesian-operated theological study center that is affiliated with the theology faculty of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.
The meeting is timely for two reasons: First, some of the historically inaccurate slurs against Pius XIIâ€™s record of helping Jews have been recirculated this month, ahead of the 70th anniversary of his coronation as pope on March 12.
And second, because Pope Benedict XVI will visit Israel, and Yad Vashem itself, in May during his trip to the Holy Land. The official itinerary of the trip is expected to be released tomorrow, and it is anticipated that the Pope will include Yad Vashemâ€™s museum in Jerusalem on his itinerary.
Some purification of memory about Pius XII in advance of the papal visit would be most helpful in order to ensure the trip accomplishes one of its main goals â€” confirming the esteem the Holy Father, and the Church as a whole, has for its elder brothers in faith, the Jewish people.