Haifa Chief Rabbi: No Forgiveness for Pope Pius

Haifa Chief Rabbi Sha'ar Yashuv Cohen told the Vatican he opposes the beatification of Pope Pius XII, Holocaust-era head of the Catholic Church.

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Hana Levi Julian,

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Haifa Chief Rabbi Sha'ar Yashuv Cohen informed the Vatican on Monday that he opposed the beatification of Pope Pius XII, the Holocaust-era leader of the Catholic Church.


In an address to the supreme body of the Catholic Church, the Synod of Bishops, Rabbi Cohen said that Pope Pius "may have helped in secrecy many of the victims and many of the refugees but the question is, 'Could he have raised his voice and would it have helped, or not?'"


The 80-year-old rabbi, a member of the Chief Rabbinate's Commission for Relations with the Vatican, was invited to address the Synod on the significance of the Torah for the Jewish People. It is the first time such an invitation has been extended by the Vatican.


Remarks last month by Pope Benedict praising Pius as someone who had "spared no effort" to help the Jews during the war have led to speculation that the Vatican plans to make the deceased pope a saint on the 50th anniversary of his death this Thursday.


The prospect was one that made Cohen uncomfortable, he said. "I did not know [the anniversary commemorations] happened during the same meeting," he told the Reuters news service.


"If I had known… I might have refrained from coming because we feel that the pain is still here. I have to make it very clear that we, the rabbis, the leadership of the Jewish people, cannot as long as the survivors still feel painful, agree that this leader of the Church in a time of crisis should be honored now. It is not our decision. It pains us. We are sorry it is being done," he said.


Rabbi Cohen added that only G-d really knows if the deceased pope spoke out enough against the Nazi Holocaust. "G-d is the Judge… He knows the truth."