13-January-2005 -- EWTNews Brief


NEW YORK, USA, January 13 (CNA) - The Anti-Defamation League is preparing a letter that it will send to the Vatican requesting that Church plans to beatify Pope Pius XII be put on hold until scholars can review all wartime-era Vatican records, reported The Jewish Week.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the league, made the announcement after the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published a letter Dec. 28, claiming it was written by the Vatican.

The letter, dated Oct. 23, 1946, told French churches not to return Jewish children to their families if they had been baptized during the Holocaust.

The one-page, typewritten letter is unsigned and states that it received papal approval. However, it has not been attributed to the hand of Pope Pius XII.

Furthermore, several historians have come out harshly criticizing the authenticity of the letter after its publication.

"The letter adds ammunition to those who believe Pope Pius XII could have and should have done more" in protecting the Jews from the Nazis, said Foxman, who last year led the most virulent attacks against Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."

Foxman told The Jewish Weekly that the letter demonstrates that "even after the war he (Pope Pius XII) took steps to prevent Jews from being Jewish.

"And so it sheds light on how righteous he was," he said, criticizing the former pontiff. "It impacts on what he may or may not have done during the war, and raises our anxiety about the role he played."

Eugene Fisher, associate director of ecumenical relations at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, reiterated to the newspaper that the authenticity of the Vatican document is questionable.

He also said archivists are currently working at cataloguing Vatican wartime records, some of which have already been released.

He added that the request to delay the beatification process of Pope Pius XII has been made before by both Jewish and Catholic groups.