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Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies One of Organizers for International Conference Examining Archives of Pope Pius XII

The October 9-11 conference will shed new light on the historical and theological controversies concerning the pontiff and the Vatican during the Holocaust period and on Jewish-Christian relations at multiple levels.

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22 September 2023 - By University Communications

Saint Leo University’s Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies  is proud to be one of the organizers of the upcoming international conference, “New Documents from the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII and their Meaning for Jewish-Christian Relations: A Dialogue between Historians and Theologians,” set for October 9-11 in the Aula Magna of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. 


The conference goal is to shed new light on the historical and theological controversies concerning Pope Pius XII and the Vatican during the Holocaust period and on Jewish-Christian relations at multiple levels, thanks to important discoveries emerging from the analysis of the Vatican archives and to a strengthened collaboration between institutions and researchers.

In 1965, the Catholic Church issued a renewed teaching, Nostra Aetate, that rejected antisemitism and presented the Jewish people as blessed by God. What can the new documents tell us about the encounters that led up to this watershed moment in Church teaching? This conference will bring together historians and theologians, Christians and Jews, studying together to further both historical knowledge and Jewish-Christian relations.

Registration now is open to the public and accredited members of the news media at English-Italian simultaneous translation service is provided. Registration is due by noon, Monday, October 2. The conference also will be livestreamed, in Italian and English, on

In March 2020, Pope Francis opened millions of documents pertaining to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958). While it will take decades to analyze and ascertain the full significance of these archives estimated to be at least 16 million pages, some important discoveries have been made and will be discussed during the conference. 

Structured in seven sessions, the October 9-11 conference will address the most complex issues, both in the historical-diplomatic implications and in the social, religious, and cultural ones which led to an irrevocable reformulation of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people in the following decades.


“The aim of the dialogue between Catholics and Jews since the Second Vatican Council is to build mutual understanding between our respective traditions,” stated Dr. Matthew Tapie, director, and Rabbi David Maayan, assistant director, of CCJS. “Saint Leo University's Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies has advanced this goal for 25 years, and so this conference offers a unique and historic opportunity. It does so in a highly significant way as it brings together scholars who can clarify the historical contexts of a difficult era along with theologians who can draw upon the rich religious resources of each tradition. The dialogue between these two groups can help illuminate the issues at the heart of Christian-Jewish relations more broadly.”

In addition to Saint Leo University’s Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, organizers include: 

  • Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center Foundation (Milan, Italy); 
  • Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies and faculty of History and Cultural Heritage of the Church, Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome); 
  • Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, D.C.); and, 
  • Institute for International Research, Yad Vashem, World Holocaust Remembrance Center (Jerusalem).

On Monday, October 9, the first session will address the motivations and decisions of Pope Pius XII in the face of fascism, Nazism, and communism, in an attempt to balance his roles as head of the Church and the Holy See.

Saint Leo’s Tapie will be one of the participants on Tuesday, October 10, for Part 2 of The Rescue of the Jews session. His topic is “Baptism as Rescue?: Parental Rights and the Question of Baptism Invitis Parentibus.” This will be part of the discussion examining whether Jews were rescued and why. It also is the 80th anniversary of the October 1943 round-up in Rome, which was an important moment of opportunity for the Vatican. The discussion will look at what the newly released archives of Pope Pius XII can reveal about this time.


CCJS’s Maayan will present on Wednesday, October 11, as part of The Uncertain Road to Nostra Aetate, when the Second Vatican Council rejected antisemitism and underlined the bond between Christianity and Judaism. His topic is “Self-Understanding and Understanding the Other: Nostra Aetate and a Theology of Dialogue.”

For a complete schedule and more information, visit

More information about Saint Leo University’s Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies is available at