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B’nai B’rith: Halt wartime pope’s sainthood

B’nai B’rith International urged Catholic authorities to halt the canonization process for Pope Pius XII until his response to the Holocaust is clarified. B’nai B’rith wrote letters to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and its Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, the group said in a Monday release. It urged that the process toward declaring the World War II-era pope a saint be suspended until the Holy See’s secret archives from the period are opened and scholars are able to settle the ongoing debate over whether he responded adequately to the Holocaust. We “would not, as representatives of the Jewish community, normally express opinions regarding religious and symbolic steps taken internally by the Church,” the group said. But it added that “to proactively elevate Pius XII as a saint before scholars are allowed to carry out an appropriate accounting of actions during an era when six million European Jews were murdered” would “represent a real injustice.” Pius XII was placed on the path to sainthood last week when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted to approve his beatification. The current pope, Benedict XVI, must approve, and two miracles must be attributed to the wartime pope. A Yad Vashem exhibit says that Pius “abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews” and “maintained his neutral position throughout the war.” The Vatican says it has evidence that Pius quietly intervened on behalf of Jews, but still blocks access to Vatican archives from that period.