Cardinal Says Mistrust, Polemics Doomed Holocaust Commission

VATICAN, Aug 24, 01 ( - A top Vatican cardinal said on Friday a joint committee of Catholic and Jewish scholars studying the history of the Church during the Holocaust was suspended because of "feelings of mistrust" and "divergences of interpretation."

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Commission for Relations with Judaism, said in a statement issued by the Vatican that the study group, which had announced the suspension of its work on July 24, was not ready to begin again.

The team of three Jews and three Catholics had been formed on October 18, 1999 to review the "Acts and documents of the Holy See relating to the Second World War," a summary of documents which was published between 1965 and 1981 at the request of Pope Paul VI, and representing the entirety of the Vatican files on the subject.

The study of these 12 volumes-- answering a Jewish request to study Pope Pius XII's and the Church's activities during the war-- was expected to jointly address the questions which Jewish groups said deserved more clarification on behalf of the Holy See.

"You have to note the impossibility of overcoming the divergences of interpretations regarding the duties and objectives of the study group," said Cardinal Kasper. He specified moreover that "indiscretions and polemical writings on behalf of the Jewish members contributed to cause a feeling of mistrust, making it practically impossible to continue joint research."

"Such a scientific work cannot be carried out on the basis of that attitude," added the prelate, stressing that "it does not seem possible for the moment to envisage a reactivation of the work of the group." The six members of the study group had published a "preliminary report," last October 25 at the Vatican, asking for permission to consult the Vatican archives' files after 1922-- the cut-off date for the research carried out in the "Acts."

In line with the statements of his predecessor-- Cardinal Edward Cassidy-- who had already affirmed on several occasions the practical impossibility of opening the files, Cardinal Kasper said that "never, at any time, was it implied that the six historians could have access to the documents in Vatican archives after 1922." The Vatican has said that unfettered access could not be allowed because of the sensitive, sacramental nature of some of the documents.

However, the cardinal thanked the group for all the work carried out until now, saying there wasn't "any doubt on the path undertaken towards understanding between Jews and Christians."

"This path must be continued in a mutual interest," he concluded, affirming that the Commission for Relations with Jews "will seek in upcoming months, adequate means to reactivate the research of the group on a new basis."

Catholic World News Service - Daily News Briefs
24. august 2001

av Webmaster publisert 27.08.2001, sist endret 27.08.2001 - 10:30