September 15, 2020

Letter on the New York Times regarding the Catholic Church and the Holocaust

The Catholic Church and the Holocaust
Sept. 14, 2020 
Readers react to new revelations from the Vatican’s previously sealed archives. Pope Pius XII in the Vatican.
Credit ANSA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
To the Editor:

Pope Pius XII was a complex figure, and David I. Kertzer’s preliminary findings reveal the already known less flattering facets of this controversial pontiff.

In 2014, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which I founded with Representative Tom Lantos, began its Houses of Life program with the aim of identifying and marking physical sites that gave shelter to victims of Nazism, especially children.

Since its inception, we founded more than 500 Houses of Life in Europe, mostly in Italy. A vast majority were Catholic churches and convents, a fact that suggests the Vatican’s involvement.

Thousands of Jewish children were saved in those Houses of Life. Many of them never returned to their families, and converted to Catholicism.

Hopefully, the unfettered access to the Vatican archives will shed light on this lifesaving campaign and its motivations. Did Pius XII give the order to shelter the Jewish children, or did he just turn a blind eye? Was he moved by Christian compassion, or did he want to convert Jewish children? All this remains to be seen.

Baruch Tenembaum

New York