Did Pope John Paul II deny the Holocaust?

My daughter’s new boyfriend is a very nice Hindu. He casually mentioned he could never admire a pope who denied the Holocaust!? He said Pope John Paul II for years denied it and that he recently apologized.

I think he confused the pope’s apology with the general apology the pope issued for all the offenses of the Catholic Church over the ages that may have contributed to anti-Semitism. However, I am not sure. Does this young Hindu know more than I? I don’t know exactly how to answer him.

John Paul II has never denied the Holocaust, particularly because he lived through the era in Poland, the epicenter of the Eastern European area where the Nazis enacted their “final solution.” As examples of the Pope’s acknowledgment, point out to your daughter’s boyfriend that John Paul canonized Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, a martyr of Auschwitz, in October 1982, at the beginning of his reign.

It is possible that the young man is thinking either of John Paul’s apologies at Lent 2000 for the failures of Catholics throughout history. It is also possible he is thinking of the document We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah. Finally, it is also possible that he is confusing John Paul II with Pope Pius XII, the pope during World War II who has often been unjustly accused of doing nothing to help the Jews during the Holocaust.

**Recommended reading:

Witness to Hope** by George Weigel
Hitler, the War, and the Pope by Ronald J. Rychlak

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