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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Pope Benedict alienates Israel over Pius

December 22nd, 2009
12:59 PM ET

The recent decision of Pope Benedict XVI to recognize the “heroic virtues” of Pope Pius XII – the 260th head of the Catholic Church – has been provoked an angry reaction from Jewish leaders.

Pope Pius XII was criticized for not helping Jews in Nazi Germany.

Pope Pius XII was criticized for not helping Jews in Nazi Germany.

The head of Germany's Central Jewish Council, Stephan Kramer told AFP this week that the Vatican's stance on Pius XII was “a clear hijacking of historical facts concerning the Nazi era.”

Pius XII, who served as pontiff from 1939 to 1958, has long been accused of failing to do enough to help the Jews during World War II.

But the Vatican has insisted that Pius didn’t ignore the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany.

They argue that he chose to pursue a quieter, more diplomatic course of action because he thought any public denunciations he made would only produce more deaths.

This stance has failed to convince the World Jewish Congress (WJC) who believe the beatification process of Pius should be at the very least deferred until the facts of his actions can be established.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement: “As long as the archives of Pope Pius about the crucial period 1939 to 1945 remain closed, and until a consensus on his actions – or inaction – concerning the persecution of millions of Jews in the Holocaust is established, a beatification is inopportune and premature.”

But the Vatican maintain that the archives on the Pius era will not be opened to public historians until 2014.

The row over Pius XII's path to canonization comes on top of an ongoing ownership dispute between the Vatican and Israel over a number of holy sites including the “Last Supper room.”

Both spats are threatening to put Pope Benedict’s scheduled visit to Rome’s synagogue next month in jeopardy.

We would like to hear your views on the ongoing disputes between Israel and the Vatican.

Are Jewish leaders right to argue that the canonization of Pope Pius XII shouldn't go ahead while the full extent of the former pope's views aren’t known?

Post your comments below.


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