The Vatican should know better

When the Vatican released a long-awaited assessment this week of its role during the Holocaust, church leaders hoped to "heal the wounds of past misunderstandings."

Instead, Jews reacted with anger and indignation to the self-serving appraisal.

So what went wrong?

Were Jewish expectations unrealistic? Or does the Catholic Church just have a lot to learn about diplomacy?

It's definitely the latter.

Of course, one could argue that Jews shouldn't have expected the church's top leaders to denounce their highest-ranking holy man for his silence during the genocide.

Jews didn't exactly expect a virulent condemnation of Pope Pius XII.

But they did believe the church would go beyond criticizing individual Catholics for silence and inaction as millions of Jews were dragged off to their deaths. Jews did believe church leaders would finally take responsibility for their collective guilt.

The document was 11 years in the making. And it mainly came about at the urging of Jews.

Let's face it: The document was basically meant to improve Catholic-Jewish relations. To have it immediately and severely condemned shows the extent to which the church leaders are insulated and out of touch.

At the very least, the church officials should have tested the document with Jewish leaders behind closed doors.

Instead, they look like they're hiding something. And we look ungrateful to the general public.

The only way for this debacle to end satisfactorily is for the Catholic Church finally to open its archives to outside scholars and theologians. The only real answers about the church's role during the Holocaust will come when a fresh, unbiased eye can make the assessment.

The politics and self-congratulation within the Catholic Church obviously make it impossible for its leaders to properly judge themselves.