Survivors’ group lauds Catholics for excising ‘holocaust’


(JTA) — A Holocaust survivors’ organization praised the Catholic Church for changing a new English translation of the Bible to eliminate the word "holocaust." 

A statement by Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, issued Monday responsed to the deletion of "holocaust," with a small h, and its replacement by "burnt offerings" in The New American Bible Revised Edition to be released on March 9.

"Holocaust survivors view this subtle but meaningful change as a sensitive gesture by the Catholic Church for which we are grateful," the statement said. "We understand the intention was to underscore the prevailing use of ‘Holocaust’ as denoting the Jewish tragedy under the Nazis."

Steinberg said the gesture was especially welcome because of recent tensions with the Vatican regarding Holocaust-related questions, notably the efforts to make Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII a saint, and the rescinding of the excommunication of Holocaust-denier Bishop Richard Williamson.

At the same time, he stressed that the original use of the word "holocaust" in the Catholic Bible had been "in no way offensive" and he noted that the current use of "Holocaust" — with a capital H — to signify the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people derived from its usage as "burnt offerings."

The New American Bible is a Catholic translation of the Bible that was first published in 1970 and revised several times.

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