35 Catholic and Jewish Scholars Urge Vatican: Open Holocaust Archives

News Release
December 11, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Thirty-five leading Catholic and Jewish scholars and interfaith activists have signed a petition urging the Vatican to open its archives pertaining to the response of Pope Pius XII to the Holocaust.

The petition was organized by internationally-known Jewish leader Seymour Reich and The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Although the signatories have a variety of views on the Vatican’s response to the Holocaust, they found common ground in the demand to open the archives so the full historical record can be revealed. The signatories include Holocaust scholar Prof. Deborah Lipstadt; Catholic scholar and activist Prof. Leonard Swidler, editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies; Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J., Holocaust Collection coordinator at Holy Cross College; Prof. Padriac O’Hare, director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Merrimack College; and Prof. Michael Berenbaum of the University of Judaism.

Reich is a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who co-chaired the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission. The commission was organized in 1999 by the Holy See’s Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews, and the International Jewish Committee for Interrreligious Consultations, to review the Vatican’s published archival material from the Holocaust period.

The Reich-Wyman Institute petition comes in response to the recent discovery of two new documents pertaining to Pope Pius XII’s response to the Holocaust. A Tel Aviv University scholar, Dina Porat, found a document from 1944 in which the then-Papal Nuncio in Turkey, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli –himself a future pope– complained that his superiors in the Vatican “refrain from action and resourcefulness in extending concrete help” to Jewish victims of the Nazis.

At the same time, the Wyman Institute located a postwar interview with John Pehle, director of the U.S. government’s War Refugee Board, in which he said that during the war, the Vatican “wasn’t helpful in the whole refugee business.”

The Reich-Wyman Institute petition reads:

“Documents uncovered recently by scholars at Tel Aviv University and The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies have raised new questions about the response of Pope Pius XII to the Holocaust. Scholars have legitimate disagreements concerning the Vatican’s actions regarding European Jewry during the Hitler years, and the undersigned include representatives of a range of views on this subject. But we all agree that the Vatican should open its archives for the Holocaust period to historians, so that the role of the wartime Pope will not be subject to conjecture as to what he knew, what he did, and what he chose to say or not say about the plight of the Jews. We respectfully urge the Vatican to open those archives now.”


Seymour D. Reich
Former co-chair, International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission

Prof. David S. Wyman (emer.)
Author, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945

Prof. Deborah Lipstadt
Director, Rabbi Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies
Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, Emory University

Prof. Leonard Swidler
Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue, Temple University
President, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church
Co-founder and editor, Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J.
Coordinator, Hiatt Holocaust Collection
College of the Holy Cross

Dr. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Author, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church
in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair

Prof. Padriac O’Hare
Professor of Religious Studies
Director, Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations
Merrimack College

Prof. Michael Berenbaum
Professor & Director,
Sigi Ziering Institute on the Holocaust, University of Judaism

Dr. Paul F. Knitter
Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture
Union Theological Seminary

Prof. Israel W. Charny
President, International Association of Genocide Scholars
Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Genocide
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Hubert G. Locke
Dean Emeritus, University of Washington
Co-founder, Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches

Prof. Henry R. Huttenbach
History Department, City College of New York
Editor, Journal Of Genocide Research

Prof. Randall C. Zachman
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Prof. Debórah Dwork
Professor & Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Clark University

Dr. Carol Rittner, RSM
Distinguished Professor of Holocaust & Genocide Studies
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Prof. Susannah Heschel
Dartmouth College
Co-editor, Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust

Prof. Mary C. Doak
Department of Theology
Notre Dame University

Prof. Thane Rosenbaum
Professor of Human Rights Law, Fordham University School of Law
Author, The Myth of Moral Justice

James Carroll
Author, Constantine’s Sword

Dr. Rochelle L. Millen
Professor of Religion
Wittenberg University

Prof. Walter Nugent
Department of History (emeritus)
University of Notre Dame

Prof. Michael Signer
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Prof. Elizabeth T. Groppe
Department of Theology
Xavier University

Prof. Monty N. Penkower
Senior Professor of Modern Jewish History
Machon Lander Graduate School for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

Prof. John Van Engen
Department of History
University of Notre Dame

Prof. Robert G. Weisbord
Department of History, University of Rhode Island
Author, The Chief Rabbi, the Pope and the Holocaust

Prof. Dian Murray
Chair, Dept. of East Asian Languages & Literatures
University of Notre Dame

Dr. Paul A. Levine
Senior Lecturer in Holocaust History
Uppsala University, Sweden

Distinguished Professor Franklin H. Littell
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Author, The Crucifixion of the Jews

Prof. Marcia Sachs Littell
Founding Director, Master of Arts Program Holocaust & Genocide Studies
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Dr. Racelle R. Weiman
Executive Director, Institute for Interreligious, Intercultural Dialogue
Temple University

Prof. Robert Jan van Pelt
Department of History
University of Waterloo

Prof. Paul Miller
Department of History
McDaniel College

Prof. Zsuzsanna Ozsvath
Chair, Holocaust Studies Program
University of Texas at Dallas

Dr. Rafael Medoff
Director, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

(Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.)