Jewish retiree creates stir defending Pope Pius

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In the long and painful debate over whether he should have done more to halt the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators in World War II, Pope Pius XII has an unusual defender.

Gary Krupp, who is Jewish, says he grew up hating the late pontiff. Now, at 62, the retired Long Island businessman is caught up in the controversy over the Vatican's effort to make Pius a saint. He says that as a Jew he's not interested in the sainthood issue — he just wants to defend the wartime pope's reputation from "the worst character assassination of the 20th century."

That puts him among a handful of Jews who have bucked a widely held view of Pius as a pope who failed to pit his moral authority against Hitler's Holocaust, and who therefore is not entitled to sainthood. Some prominent Catholic scholars concede many questions linger about Pius's tenure, but his defenders say he saved thousands of Jewish lives by working behind the scenes.

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