Catholic League president William Donohue has asked Senator Dianne Feinstein to apologize to Catholics for a remark she made today at the hearings of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts:

“In a prepared statement today at the hearings for John Roberts, Senator Dianne Feinstein said she was going to question the Supreme Court nominee on ‘the constitutional provision of providing for the separation of church and state.’  As an example of religious persecution, she cited Jews who lost their lives in Budapest during the Holocaust, a tragedy, she said, that ‘occurred in the name of religion.’

“At the time of the Holocaust, 67 percent of Hungary was Catholic, so we know who Senator Feinstein was blaming.  Her remark is obscene.  These are the words of Rabbi David Dalin, author of the just-published book, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis: ‘Jeno Levai, the great Hungarian Jewish historian, was so angered by accusations of papal ‘silence’ that he wrote Hungarian Jewry and the Papacy: Pius XII Did Not Remain Silent (published in English in 1968), with a powerful introduction and epilogue by Robert M.W. Kempner, the deputy chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremburg.’  Levai demonstrated how Catholic Church officials ‘intervened again and again on the instructions of the pope,’ the result of which was that ‘in the autumn and winter of 1944 there was practically no Catholic Church institution in Budapest where persecuted Jews did not find refuge.’

“There are three issues at work here.  Number one, Feinstein shows an appalling ignorance of the Holocaust.  Two, she blames Catholics—the  very ones who came to the rescue of Jews in Budapest—not Nazis.  Three, she fails to understand that had the First Amendment provision on religious liberty been operative in Nazi Germany, Hitler would not have been able to use the power of the state to club Christianity.

“Senator Feinstein has no track record of bigotry towards Catholics, but her remarks today call for an apology nonetheless.”

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