Sainthood Setback for Pope Pius XII

Coveting Catholics halts canonization

| January 6, 2005

According to a recently discovered diary entries written in the mid-Forties by Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, Pope Pius XII baptized Jewish children after the Nazi defeat and then refused to return them to their Jewish families.

Roncalli, later named Pope John XXIII, is largely known for his proactive strides in reuniting war-torn Jewish families and abolishing Jewish persecution. He served under Pius XII as papal nuncio to Paris. In his recently published diaries he writes that after World War II, Jewish families asked for their children to be returned to them. But Pius XII refused to send children back who had been baptized while under the Church's temporary supervision. The letter outlining these orders from the Vatican was published last week by an Italian daily paper, Corriere della Sera.

The children who were taken under the wing of the Catholic Church were spared from German death camps, but Pius's motives were not entirely altruistic. His agenda, it seems, was to seize on the opportunity Hitler's death camps afforded, and convert as many Jewish children as he could. 'Children who have been baptized may not be entrusted to institutions that are not in a position to guarantee them a Christian upbringing,' the letter published in Corriere della Sera reads.

The revelation comes at an inopportune time for Pope John Paul II, who is working to beatifying Pius XII -- the first step towards achieving sainthood.

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