In a widely reported conversation with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, chastised Israel’s war on Hamas saying it is “forbidden to respond to terror with terror".

In a special video statement, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, chief rabbi of South Africa, says that comparing Israel’s just war of self-defense to the barbarism of Hamas, Pope Francis repeats the sins of Pope Pius the XII, from the Nazi era.

Rabbi Goldstein says that the Pope "betrays his fiduciary duty as the head of the Catholic Church to protect Christians throughout the world from the same murderous hatred directed against the Jews, not realizing that we are in this war together".

"What would the Pope’s philosophy of primitive pacifism have said about the war of the Allied forces to defeat Nazi Germany?", Rabbi Goldstein asks, "Was that a just war? What about all the civilians that died in that war?"

Rabbi Goldstein explains that the reference to World War 2 is reminiscent of the current situation. "It is common cause that the then head of the Catholic Church, Pope Pius XII, who before he began his papacy in 1939 served as the Vatican ambassador to Nazi Germany, was at the very least a passive bystander to the Holocaust, if not an active supporter" he says.

Concluding his message, Rabbi Goldstein says: "Pope Francis, take this time now, on the eve of a new year, to reflect on how you can repent for sins of Pope Pius during the Holocaust, and protect your congregations all over the world, today. May God guide you to the path of atonement for sins, past and present, so that our world can become a safer place for all."