Over the weekend, the German-born Pope Benedict XVI moved Pope Pius XII one step closer to sainthood, prompting immediate outrage from Jewish groups who contend that Pius, who was Eugenio Pacelli before being elected pontiff in 1939, didn’t do enough to prevent the Nazi slaughter of Jews (let alone its persecution of Catholic priests). Rabbi David Rosen, a member of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, scoffed at the church’s repeated assertions that Pius’s silence in the face of the Holocaust can be explained by his desire to protect thousands of Jews who were in hiding.
Benedict, who is already booked for a visit to Rome’s synagogue in January, responded earlier today with a mollifying speech about, yes, the Holocaust: specifically, about his visit earlier this year to the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel. “The visit to the Yad Vashem has meant an upsetting encounter with the cruelty of human fault, with the hatred of a blind ideology that, with no justification, sent millions of people to their deaths,” he said. Human fault: another way of saying that not everyone’s a saint.