Matt C. Abbott
November 9, 2012
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Pope Pius XII
By Matt C. Abbott

I recently paid a visit to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center here in the Chicago area. An interesting, albeit somber, museum, I must say. Its mission statement:
    The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. The museum fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation and interpretation of its collections and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide.
(The museum does not include abortion among its examples of modern-day genocide, in case you're wondering.)

Not surprisingly, the museum's treatment of Pope Pius XII is less than favorable. In fact, it's grossly unfair. There is a sentence about the actions of individual priests and nuns who acted courageously (no names are listed), but there's no mention of the many thousands of Jews Pius XII helped save from the Nazis. Sadly, one could easily conclude from the exhibit that Pius XII really didn't give a darn about what Hitler was doing to the Jews.

Thus, I decided to send the following email to the museum:
    To the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center:

    I recently visited the museum and found it interesting, moving and educational. However, I was very disappointed by the main exhibit's treatment of Pope Pius XII in regard to the Holocaust. The exhibit portrays the pope in an unfair light, and what little information is displayed is extremely deficient.

    I urge you to review pertinent material, which can be found by clicking here, on the website of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and consider revising that aspect of the museum's main exhibit.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Matt C. Abbott
    Catholic columnist
    RenewAmerica.com
A few days later, I received the following response from Karen Goodman Minter, the museum's director of marketing and communications:
    Dear Mr. Abbott:

    Thank you for reaching out to us. We appreciate your thoughtful message following your visit, and respect the feedback provided on our exhibition. The narrative development of our Karkomi Permanent Exhibition was a process rooted in thorough deliberation and recognized historical scholarship. We were privileged to work with two renowned historical consultants and conceptual developers, Dr. Michael Berenbaum and Dr. Yitzchak Mais, both of whom are distinguished Holocaust and Jewish historians. They sought to address the complexities of the world's comprehension and action taken in light of the unprecedented scope of the Holocaust. In this area of the exhibition, we seek to pose questions rather than answers, and present aspects of the global response via individuals, society and government, in which many could have done more to save Jews during the Holocaust. In this regard, we believe our narrative relative to Pius XXII [sic] is both fair and accurate.

    Thank you again for contacting us.

    Sincerely,

    Karen Goodman Minter
Click here to read a past column of mine on Pius XII and the Jews.

The calumny of Pius XII is nothing new, but it lives on even in the most respectable of places.

Pope Pius XII, pray for us.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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