Rabbi Cohen said the Pope went out of his way to make it clear the Vatican would never question Israel’s sovereignty, nor challenge its rights to rule over the Old City of Jerusalem. Between 1949 and 1967, the Old City remained under Jordan’s Islamic rule, and Jews were barred from entering it.In October 2008, Rabbi Cohen had the honor of becoming the first Jew to address a synod of Catholic bishops at the at the Second General Congregation of the Bishops’ synod on the Bible.
He said both himself and other Israeli rabbis are open to Pope Benedict’s idea of establishing an inter-religious council where all of the religions represented in the Holy City could be called together to discuss both the practical and spiritual aspects of Jerusalem’s present and future.
The rabbi also discussed the warm interpersonal relations that developed between the rabbis and the Vatican officials. ... read more.
Regretfully, Rabbi Cohen also raised the provocative question of Pope Pius XII:
“We refer to him as ‘the Holocaust Pope,’” said Rabbi Cohen. “Although he may have helped individual Jews, he did not fulfill his role to protest the mass slaughter of Jews. Rabbi Cohen expressed the view that if the Vatican does claim that Pope Pius XII did extraordinary things to help the Jews during the war, then the Vatican should open its archives to provide documentation of such.”With all due respect, we beg to differ with this assessment of Pius XII, and firmly maintain that an examination of the facts will vindicate his name.
For further details see our online archive: Pope Pius XII, the Jews and the Holocaust.