Debating Pope Pius's Holocaust Actions

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Should Pope Pius XII, the pope who led the Vatican through the Second World War, be considered for sainthood? An Israeli cabinet minister surprised experts when he waded into the increasingly heated debate on the issue this week, saying it would be "unacceptable" to consider canonizing Pius XII, whose reluctance to condemn the Holocaust during World War II has drawn accusations that he turned a blind eye to the fate of the Jews.

"Throughout the period of the Holocaust, the Vatican knew very well what was happening in Europe," Isaac Herzog, Israel's social affairs minister, told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. "Yet there is no evidence of any step being taken by the pope, as the stature of the Holy See should have mandated." Herzog, whose role in government is to serve as a liaison with the Christian community, insisted that the pope's failure to speak out should disqualify him from being considered for sainthood, a process that has been delayed since Pius's death in 1958. "The attempt to turn him into a saint is an exploitation of forgetfulness and lack of awareness," Herzog said. "Instead of acting according to the biblical verse 'Thou shalt not stand against the blood of thy neighbor,' the pope kept silent--and perhaps even worse."

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