A leading Jewish activist has said that Pope Pius XII should never become a saint because the notion ``desecrates the memory of the Holocaust.''
    Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said Pius XII ``sat on the throne of St. Peter in stony silence, without ever lifting a finger, as each day thousands of Jews from all over Europe were sent to the gas chambers, with his full knowledge.''
    Church historians maintain that the pope felt public protest would have worsened things for Jews and Catholics alike and also hoped to be in a position to mediate peace between the Allies and the Nazi regime.
    The rabbi acknowledged that Pius helped the Jews of Rome in late 1943 and 1944, and that his efforts won praise from Jewish leaders of the day. But he said by then Pius knew Hitler would lose the war. ``In the critical years, when millions could have been spared, he preferred silence.''
    The Wiesenthal Centre, based in Los Angeles, does research on Jewish rights and the Holocaust.

3:37pm 21/5/99 / AP


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