The gates of heaven won't be barred to Pius XII if the Vatican decides to put his cause for sainthood on hold. But Pope Benedict XVI and others in the Vatican keep putting it forward even though it divides Catholics and Jews. Most recently, the postulator for Pius' cause was quoted in Italian media over the weekend as saying that Benedict would not visit Israel until a caption was removed from a photo of Pius at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.The exhibit's criticism of Pius is debatable - but that's just the point. The debate over Pius' wartime role has not been resolved. A group of scholars said as much in a letter today in The Times of London.The Vatican responded with damage control over the weekend, saying that Benedict would not delay a possible trip to Israel because of the caption conflict. But it should never have been necessary to say that.Pope John Paul II's visit to Yad Vashem and the Western Wall was a powerful reminder of the ties that bind Jews and Catholics. The good will it created should not be squandered.
Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses.