Monday, April 19, 2010

Official - there is no Pius XII forest in Israel

In an earlier post about Pinchas Lapide, I mentioned one of the "throw away" lines in his book:

"No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews . . . .Several suggested in open letters that a Pope Pius XII forest of 860,000 trees be planted on the hills of Judea in order to fittingly honor the memory of the late Pontiff ("Three Popes and the Jews" pp. 214–215)."

A number of rather extreme and conservative Catholic websites have turned the suggestion into what they believe to be is fact.  They believe there is a forest of 800,000 or 860,000 trees in Israel.  And I have copped a shellacking from one poster on an Australian discussion board over it and every other post about Pius with which he takes (a totally a-historical and ill informed) exception.

In mid-March this year I wrote to colleagues in Israel asking them to give me an authoritative answer to this allegation, just to settle the issue once and for all.

Today I received this reply:

Sorry it took so long, but since nobody at Yad Vashem had ever heard about these trees, I put in a request for information from the Keren Kayemeth, which deal with the planting of trees in Israel. They told us that they are unaware of any such trees, planted in honor of Pius XII. In fact they are unaware of any trees planted at all in honor of Pius XII.

I hope this is an end to one of the more bizarre myths about Pope Pius.

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