Israeli Holocaust museum changes exhibit featuring Pope Pius XII

Israeli Holocaust museum changes exhibit featuring Pope Pius XII
An exhibit featuring Pope Pius XII at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. (Kevin Frayer / Associated Press)

A Holocaust museum in Israel has slightly softened its rhetoric regarding the inaction of Pope Pius XII in the face of the deportation of Jews during World War II. Yad Vashem -- the cultural center for Holocaust studies in Jerusalem -- changed the wording on an explanatory wall panel that is part of an ongoing display.

The modified wall panel, which was installed Sunday, incorporates views of those who defend the Pope.


Pope Pius XII has long been a figure of contention between the Vatican and Israel. His critics claim that he looked the other way during the deportation of Jews from Rome during the Holocaust. The Italian-born Pope presided over the Catholic Church from 1939 to his death in 1958.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz provided some excerpts from the revised language. The new text cites the pope's defenders, who maintain that his "neutrality prevented harsher measures against the Vatican and the Church's institutions throughout Europe, thus enabling a considerable number of secret rescue activities to take place at different levels of the Church." 

However, "until all relevant material is available to scholars, this topic will remain open to further inquiry," the new text reads.

A statement issued by Yad Vashem maintains that the update reflects "research that has been done in the recent years and presents a more complex picture than previously presented," according to the Associated Press.

The display in question is installed at Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum.