LONG BEACH, N.Y. — At home here on Long Island, he is Gary L. Krupp, medical equipment dealer, now retired after a career of ups and downs. He shares one car and a small house in a no-frills neighborhood with his wife, Meredith, and wryly describes himself as “an average schlemiel, just a Jewish kid from Queens.”
At the Vatican, he is known as Commendatore Gary Krupp, Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. For short, the Swiss Guard and cardinals address him as “Your Excellency.”
It is a compelling tale in itself: how Mr. Krupp became only the seventh Jewish papal knight in history, dubbed by Pope John Paul II in 2000 for persuading American manufacturers to donate $12 million worth of high-tech medical equipment to an Italian hospital.
But the more curious and complicated story is the transformation Mr. Krupp has undergone since. With no previous training or special interest in history, he has emerged as the Vatican’s most outspoken Jewish ally in a heated debate at the crux of tensions between Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders and historians: whether Pope Pius XII, the pontiff during World War II, did as much as he could have to save Jews from the Holocaust.
Recently, I have been hearing lots of musings about Pope Pius XII and must take give the late pontiff the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his actions during WWII. Personally, I find it difficult for a pope in the 20th Century to hide heinous involvement in the Holocaust but do not find it surprising that Christ’s Vicar on earth would perform acts of kindness in secret.
This article gives a two-page account of a “Jewish kid from Queens” who became a Swiss Guard knight and a defender of Pius XII. If only more Catholics were as loyal to the Holy See as this man.