We can agree to question or at least to have serious doubts about Pius XII’s attitude during the years leading up to the Second World War and during the years when the deportation of the Jews was known and even experienced close to the Vatican. The silence of the Church can surprise us and even shock us deeply.
It is for good reason that we are calling for the Vatican archives to be opened. This request is all the more justified because the Vatican had established itself as a State and that a State that manages public interest must open its archives after only a relative period of secrecy.
Thus to remind the Pope and the Catholic Church of our unceasing and justified request to see the archives opened, in particular those covering the period when Jews were hunted down and destroyed in Christian lands, appears to me totally legitimate. However, to protest a measure that is internal to the Church – in the context of procedures over which it alone has control and to which we have no access and which, moreover, do not concern us – is to take the debate into territory where the Church has all the resources it needs to defend itself and all the justifications to not take our reactions into account.
To react to this is to assume the position of someone who would claim to give his opinion on the sanctification of a figure who has died. This procedure is totally foreign to us and, it seems to me, more or less without consequence other than writing something into the Church calendar.
Moreover, were we to examine under what conditions, for which actions and based on which attitudes toward the Jewish people various “saints” were admitted into this sanctification process, we would no doubt have to multiply, ad infinitum, the number of our protests.
I add that, when one has a leading position in the main bodies of our community and that, for this reason, one is in regular contact with, in particular, the representatives of the Catholic Church in France, the most useful and most effective thing to do is to go to speak to our Catholic counterparts, instead of congratulating and encouraging reactions that are purely community reactions.
Théo Klein, CRIF Honorary President, Past President