Pope Benedict yesterday defended the Vatican against criticism that it did little to challenge the Nazis during World War II, saying that the Catholic church helped Jews in "hidden" ways. "Unfortunately, many remained indifferent" to the suffering of the Jews, said the German pontiff. But the Vatican "itself provided assistance, often in a hidden and discreet way." His comments followed harsh criticism of the Vatican's silence during the Holocaust by the president of Rome's Jewish community, Riccardo Pacifici.
"It still hurts because something should have been done," said Pacifici. "Maybe it would not have stopped the death trains, but it would have sent a signal, a word of extreme comfort, of human solidarity, towards those brothers of ours transported to the ovens of Auschwitz." Pacifici spoke out as Jewish anger continues to mount over moves to make Pope Pius XII—the pontiff during World War II—a saint.