The ugly side of interfaith beatification politics

Two years ago this writer expressed great reservations over the significant role the Ohr Torah Stone's Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation (CJCUC) in Efrat was playing in the Vatican’s attempts to rehabilitate and canonize Pope Pius XII.

In a response to my blog posting, Rabbi Riskin admitted that he had “sent David Nekrutman to attend the symposium sponsored by Pave the Way Foundation in September..." of 2008. Rabbi Riskin went on to write that, “He [Nekrutman] debriefed me of the events that took place and mentioned that his own judgments on the Pope were changed. Nekrutman originally thought that Pope Pius XII was indeed a Nazi collaborator and the documents shown at the symposium counter that claim. I have voiced to him as well as to others that I believe the jury is still out until the documents in the Vatican files are all properly studied and interpreted…”

David Nekrutman is the executive director of Rabbi Riskin’s Center for Jewish–Christian Understanding and Cooperation, and he can be seen on video, at that September 2008 symposium in Rome, declaring that he has received an “awakening call” has been “transformed” as has discovered that “whatever I was taught from day one about the Catholic church and Pope Pius was wrong.”

Furthermore, Nekrutman’s assessment that the exhibit at Yad Vashem should be taken down “until it’s done correctly”, was widely reported in Catholic news outlets .

Gary Krupp, founder and president of the New York-based Pave The Way Foundation clearly used David Nekrutman’s position with Rabbi Riskin’s interfaith center (CJCUC) to bolster the Vatican’s stance on this issue. But not only did David Nekrutman assist in public relations efforts to rehabilitate Pope Pius XII, he also helped acquire “evidence” which would be used by the Vatican to clear Pius XII’s name and open the way for the beatification process.

In a document entitled “Study of the Papacy of Pope Pius XII -Original Documents Page”, which can be downloaded from the Pave the Way Foundation site, special thanks is given to David Nekrutman for his work in obtaining the following material:

“Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) had a close childhood friend who was an Orthodox Jewish
boy, Guido Mendes. The son of Guido Mendes, Meir Mendes an Israeli diplomat, wrote of his
father's experience and of the personal intervention of Pacelli to save the life of his father and
how Pacelli helped Guido Mendes escape Europe for Palestine in 1939. “


YNET reports that Pope Benedict said that evidence presented at the Pave the Way Foundation conference in Rome “showed that Pius had ‘spared no effort in intervening’ on behalf of the Jews…”

Meanwhile, an examination by ADL of the documentation presented at that symposium demonstrated that conclusions of the “historical evidence” are inaccurate and improvable. That full report can be read here.

David Nekrutman knows Gary Krupp from his past when he served as Director of Community and Interfaith Relations for the Consulate General of Israel in New York. Although not always in agreement with Krupp, Rabbi Riskin considers Gary Krupp “a good and sincere friend”. Indeed, a quote of endorsement by Rabbi Riskin is featured in the Pave the Way brochure.

In that brochure you can read that the Gary Krupp is a Jewish knight and a “trusted
member of the Papal household”. He has also been instrumental in trying to acquire the Cenacle Shrine on Mt. Zion for the Vatican (you can read more about those endeavors at the JI report here)

The truth:
The executive director of Rabbi Riskin’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation actively participated in efforts to rehabilitate Pope Pius XII and set him on the road to canonization by participating (under Riskin’s instructions) in Krupp’s conference; by playing an active role in public relations efforts; and by assisting in providing evidence to be used by the Vatican.

Sickening hypocrisy?
Under the circumstances, Jewish Israel was particularly taken aback to read the following CJCUC press release of January 15th:

(Excerpt):
The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat is disappointed by recent Vatican efforts to canonize Pope Pius XII. Accelerating Pius' sainthood now would be another blow to Catholic-Jewish relations, already strained by a number of recent events.

(UPDATE: an article now appears in the Jerusalem Post)

It’s hard to know if this belated “awakening” is a sincere attempt at damage control, or a means to cover-up a terrible truth.

Pius XII is well on his way to beatification and Rabbi Riskin, who is fond of saying that the Jews dropped the ball 2000 years ago, should understand that it appears his organization fumbled miserably in their attempts to play both sides of the field. The press release as it stands simply reeks of hypocrisy.

The press release makes no mention of CJCUC’s participation in this fiasco. Perhaps it’s time that Rabbi Riskin honestly admit the role his organization played in this episode and consider that this particular interfaith venture with the Vatican failed miserably and was a reckless gamble.

Jewish Israel members and our readership should feel free to contact CJCUC's media department at 201-282-8082, and ask them some tough questions.

Addendum: Another Papal Knight

Rabbi David Rosen is making headlines, claiming that Israel's behavior toward the Vatican over the past 15 years has been "outrageous."

According to Rosen, "Any [other] country would have threatened to withdraw its ambassador long ago over Israel's failure to honor agreements."

With regards to the beatification process, Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin reports:

Rosen, who is a moderate and well liked at the Vatican, said that although he acknowledges there is now “significant evidence” in Pius’s favour, he nevertheless wants the Vatican archives opened and believes “it is somewhat disingenuous” of the Vatican not to recognize how the beatification process “is perceived and will be perceived.”

Rabbi Rosen is spending a lot of time in Rome these days doing crisis intervention between Pope Benedict XVI and a delegation from Israel's Chief Rabbinate.

How does he find himself in such a hallowed position?

Rabbi David Rosen is the first Orthodox rabbi and the fifth living Jew to be invested with a papal knighthood.

That’s a little cross being pinned on Rabbi Rosen.

But if you want to see the full uniform of a Jewish knight and member of the Papal Household, look at Gary Krupp. The term “Court Jew” or “House Jew” comes to mind…

NOTE:Jewish Israel has posted an archived copy of the
Nekrutman video as the original was taken down from YouTube by the user after this report
was published

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