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Jews take offense at pope Holocaust claim

Jewish leaders reacted with dismay yesterday to comments in Pope Benedict’s new book that his wartime predecessor Pius was a “great, righteous” man who “saved more Jews than anyone else.”

Jewish leaders reacted with dismay yesterday to comments in Pope Benedict’s new book that his wartime predecessor Pius was a “great, righteous” man who “saved more Jews than anyone else.”

Many Jews accuse Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, of having turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. The Vatican says he worked quietly behind the scenes because speaking out would have prompted Nazi reprisals against Catholics and Jews in Europe.

In his book to be published tomorrow, the German pope says Pius did what he could and did not protest more clearly because he feared the consequences.

The pope says of Pius: “The decisive thing is what he did and what he tried to do, and on that score we really must acknowledge, I believe, that he was one of the great righteous men and that he saved more Jews than anyone else.”

Jewish leaders said they were surprised by the comments. “The assertion that Pius saved more Jews than anyone else during the Holocaust is categorically contradicted by the known historical record,” said Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.

 
 
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