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RELIGION | Religion IN BRIEF

Vatican Asked for Holocaust Answers

October 28, 2000|Religion News Service

A six-member team of Jewish and Roman Catholic scholars has produced a report asking the Vatican to answer questions about its response to the Holocaust and urging the Holy See to give the group greater access to Vatican archives from that era.

"The scholars have asked for full access to the archives," Seymour Reich, chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, told Reuters. "It is not clear that that will be forthcoming, but we are hopeful."

The committee's report, released Thursday, is the culmination of a yearlong scrutiny of 11 volumes of works detailing the Vatican's actions during World War II.

"A scrutiny of these volumes . . . does not put to rest significant questions about the role of the Vatican during the Holocaust," it said. The report questioned the silence of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust and requested access to his journals, as well as to the Vatican's internal memos from the era.

"There is evidence that the Holy See was well-informed by mid-1942 of the accelerating mass murder of Jews," the report concluded. "How thoroughly informed was the Vatican regarding details of the Nazi persecution and extermination? What was the Holy See's reaction, and what discussions followed reports that flowed in describing evidence of the 'Final Solution?' "

The Vatican has maintained that Pius refrained from any harsh condemnation of the Nazis because he did not want to incite them to intensify their murder scheme against Jews.

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