October 28, 2013

In the article "Holocaust expert condemns papal silence in WW2" (WCR, Oct. 14), Susan Zuccotti claims that Pope Pius XII failed to speak out or take action to protect Jewish people during the Nazi Holocaust.

It seems to me that either Susan Zuccotti is mistaken or former Prime Minister Golda Meir is mistaken because when Pope Pius XII died in 1958, Meir, then Israeli foreign minister, later prime minister and a national hero, delivered a eulogy at the United Nations praising the man for his work on behalf of her people.

"We share in the grief of humanity at the death of Pope Pius XII," she said. "When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the pope was raised for victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above a tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace."

And what about Moshe Sharrett, Israel's first foreign minister and later second prime minister, who said, "I told Pope Pius XII that my first duty was to thank him, and through him the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public for all they had done in various countries to rescue Jews. . . . We are deeply grateful to the Catholic Church."

Does it seem more logical that Golda Meir and Moshe Sharrett, both former prime ministers of Israel, who lived through the Holocaust, were mistaken or that the modern Holocaust expert Zuccotti is trying to re-write history?

As Catholics, we should be reluctant to accept criticism that places doubt in our mind about our current or past popes. Doubt after all, was the first trick used by the serpent in the Garden of Eden and that did not work out well for us.

Grant Mann