The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today that Catholic scholars from three countries have asked Pope Benedict XVI -- in a private letter -- to delay his proposed sainthood of World War II Pope Pius XII.
The 18 scholars from the United States, Germany, and Australia said that Catholic-Jewish relations could be irreparably harmed if Pius achieves sainthood before the historical record of his actions on behalf of Jews during World War II is cleared up. Nazi Germany was responsible for the murder of more than six million Jews during World War II.
"Holy Father, we implore you, acting on your wisdom as a renowned scholar, professor, and teacher, to be patient with the cause of Pius XII," the letter reportedly said.
Critics have long accused Pius of having ignored Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. The Vatican and other supporters of Pius say the wartime pope worked behind the scenes to save Jews.
"The silence of Pius during the Holocaust was an abject moral failure; today's letter by Catholic scholars is an affirmation of the power and majesty of truth," the statement concluded.
Coincidentally, Pope Benedict XVI, who is of German ancestry, served as a soldier in Adolph Hitler's Nazi German Army during World War II.