January 13, 2005
The recent disclosure of a Vatican directive, urging Catholic officials in France not to return Jewish children who were baptized and hidden during the Holocaust to their families, has raised anew questions about the appropriateness of the beatification of Pope Pius XII. ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who was baptized by his Polish nanny and hidden in Lithuania, has said that the document's insensitivity toward Jews in the aftermath of the Holocaust is shocking.
In a letter to Vatican officials in charge of Jewish-Christian relations, Mr. Foxman called on the Vatican to freeze the beatification process until the Holy See opens its archives and makes available all documentation on Pius' actions during the war. Beatification is the penultimate step before sainthood.
The Vatican directive on hidden children evoked painful memories for Mr. Foxman, who as a child was hidden from the Nazis by his Catholic nursemaid as his parents were exiled into Jewish ghettos and concentration camps. At the end of the war, when Mr. Foxman's parents came to reclaim their only child, his nanny refused, prompting a drawn out custody dispute. The Vatican directive sheds new light on the woman's actions, Mr. Foxman said in a letter to The New York Times.
In addition, ADL wrote to the Vatican Secretary of State to call once again for the release of wartime baptismal records. "There may have been tens of thousands of rescued and baptized Jewish children who to this day are not aware of their true origins," Mr. Foxman said.