New York, NY, December 29, 2009 ... Asserting that the conclusions of the so-called "historical evidence" about World II-era Pope Pius XII's actions to save Jews presented to the Pope are seriously flawed, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on Pope Benedict XVI to reassess the issue in light of his decision to move Pius XII a step closer to sainthood.
While Pope Benedict said that evidence presented by the Pave the Way Foundation at its September 2008 conference in Rome showed that Pius had "spared no effort in intervening" on behalf of the Jews, an examination by ADL demonstrated that conclusions of the "historical evidence" are inaccurate and unprovable.
Founded by New York businessman Gary Krupp, the Pave the Way conference was dominated by Pius apologists and eschewed by independent historians. Krupp has claimed that some 2,300 pages of wartime documents from Campagna, Italy -- site of an Italian internment camp for Jews -- illustrated "Pope Pius XII's efforts to help Jews in the face of Nazism." But a careful review by a team of scholars working with ADL found Krupp's claims to be fallacious.
"To use the Campagna files to suggest that Pope Pius XII was active in attempting to rescue Jews is to demand something that historical record cannot sustain," concluded historian Paul O'Shea, author of A Cross Too Heavy: Eugenio Pacelli, Politics and the Jews of Europe 1917-1943.
"Our examination serves as a salutary reminder of the distinction between alleged claim and verifiable fact," said Debórah Dwork, Rose Professor of Holocaust History and Director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
"This apparent campaign of misinformation presented to Pope Benedict makes it all the more crucial for the Vatican to open its Holocaust-era archives to independent scholars and historians now," said Abraham, H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor.
"We reject the claim that the world and aging Holocaust survivors must wait another six years until all 16 million documents from Pope Pius' papacy are catalogued by the Vatican. We note that Pope John Paul II opened a cache of Holocaust records from Pope Pius XI before the records of his entire papacy were catalogued. We request that Pope Benedict take the same courageous decision and order the relevant Holocaust era materials be opened now."