The pope
The popeIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Catholic Church is planning the release of a new translation of the Bible in early March. The new version will change several words, among them the term “holocaust.”

The word “holocaust” was previously used in the English version of the Catholic Bible to refer to a burnt offering. The word has been changed to “burnt offering” due to the fact that the word “Holocaust” has for the past several decades been used to refer to the murder of millions of Jews during World War II.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants praised the new language. “Holocaust survivors view this subtle but meaningful change as a sensitive gesture by the Catholic church for which we are grateful,” the group said in a statement. “We understand the intention was to underscore the prevailing use of 'Holocaust' as denoting the Jewish tragedy under the Nazis.”

Church leaders have caused tension with the Jewish world in recent years, first by attempting to proclaim Pope Pius XII a saint, and later by allowing a Holocaust denier to remain in the office of Bishop.

Pope Pius XII served as pope during World War II, and remained silent regarding the massacre of European Jewry. Many Jewish groups announced their objections to his beatification.

In 2009, the Vatican lifted an excommunication ban against Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite who has said that the Nazi gas chambers were a myth and that no more than 300,000 Jews were killed in World War II. Williamson has also accused Jews of plotting to take over the world.

In addition to changing the word “holocaust,” the new Catholic Bibles will also remove the word “cereal offering,” a reference to grains that translators feared modern readers may confuse with breakfast cereal, and “booty,” a word now used as slang with sexual connotations.