Rome, Italy, Apr 16, 2007 / 08:08 am
Italian historian and professor Gian Maria Van of the Sapienza University of Rome said the “black legend,” which claims that Pope Pius XII did not help the Jews during World War II, was originally spread by the Soviets during the years of the conflict.
Van’s comments came in response to the recent refusal of the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, to participate in the annual ceremony of the commemoration of the Shoah at the Museum of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. Museum officials had denied a request to remove or change of photo of Pius XII with a caption that indicated his “ambiguous” position regarding the Jews, when history shows that in reality he saved thousands. “This is an undeniable fact,” explained Professor Van.
Commenting about the way in which Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI combated the black legend about Pius XII, Van said there are “three points of continuity between these three Pontiffs: one, the historical defense of the memory of Pius XII, of his actions during the World War II and in response to the scandalous tragedy of the Holocaust;” second, “the honor to the memory of the six million victims of the Shoah,” and third, “the unquestionable will, on both parts, to proceed down the road of peace and reconciliation, as Benedict XVI has said in Auswitz, as John Paul II constantly and tenaciously preached and as Paul VI did during the time of the Council and during his pontificate.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Obed Ben-Hur, said this week, “We say one simple thing: as soon as it is possible to investigate, see and read the documents at the Vatican that pertain to the years of the war, an historical judgment will be able to be made.”
“After the letter by then-Nuncio Pietro Sambi (who also requested the caption be changed or the photo be removed), there was a response, there was consideration, a promise to re-examine, to the see the possibility of healing this situation, looking at it together. Meanwhile, apart from this, the memory of the Holocaust is what is being respected,” Ben-Hur said.