VATICAN CITY—Six scholars (three Catholic and three Jewish) have been selected to conduct a joint review of Vatican documents from the World War II era to examine the Church's role during the Holocaust, the Vatican announced.
The team was expected to study 11 volumes of published Vatican archival material, with the possibility of drawing upon other sources and other specialists to clarify unresolved issues, said a Nov. 23 statement by the Vatican and the Jewish sponsors of the initiative.
Following the review, the team will issue a report on its findings, the statement said. No timetable was given for the project's completion.
The unprecedented review, announced in October, was an effort to shed scholarly light on one of the most contested issues in Catholic-Jewish relations: The activity of the Church, and in particular Pope Pius XII, during World War II and the Nazi effort to exterminate European Jews.
The members of the review team were announced by Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and by Seymour Reich, chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.
The three Catholic scholars named to the team were:
l Eva Fleischner, professor emerita of Montclair State University in New Jersey, who has taught on the Holocaust and edited a classic work in the field, Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? Born in Austria, she has conducted work on French rescuers of Jews during World War II.
l Jesuit Father Gerald Fogarty of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He is a Church historian who specializes in Vatican-American relations and the papacy in the 20th century.
l Father John Morley, a Holocaust scholar at Seton Hall University in New Jersey and a longtime participant in dialogue on the subject with the Jewish community. His doctoral dissertation became the basis of a book, Vatican Diplomacy and the Jews During the Holocaust, and he has extensively studied the Vatican's archival material on the period.
The Jewish scholars named were:
l Michael Marrus, professor of history and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. An acclaimed authority on the history of the Holocaust and its treatment by historians, he is coauthor of a book, Vichy France and the Jews.
l Bernard Suchecky, research director at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, who heads an oral history program on the Nazi occupation of Belgium. He is coauthor of The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI, an award-winning book.
l Robert Wistrich, professor of history and holder of the Neuenberger Chair in Jewish Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A noted scholar of European history and an authority on anti-Semitism and interfaith relations, he recently served as a visiting scholar at Harvard University.
The team will focus on the 11 volumes of Vatican archival material published between 1965 and 1981.
The statement expressed the hope that “any questions and differences that may exist can be resolved through this joint review approach.
“The scholarly team is also expected to raise relevant issues that its members feel have not been satisfactorily resolved by the documentation already available. They may also draw on the knowledge and assistance of other specialists, including colleagues and associates,” the statement said.
It said that if questions still remain at the end of the review process, Cardinal Cassidy and Reich have said that “further clarification will be sought.”
The umbrella organization headed by Reich includes the American Jewish Committee, B‘nai B‘rith International, the Israel Jewish Council on interreligious Relations, World Jewish Congress and organizations representing the major branches of Judaism. These include: the Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America; United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Rabbinical Assembly, and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Central Conference of American Rabbis, a Reform group. (From combined wire services).