Monday, January 18, 2010

Haaretz: Pope defends Nazi-era Vatican

Last update - 20:33 17/01/2010
By Sivan Kotler de Benedetti and News Agencies

Pope Benedict XVI used his first visit to Rome's synagogue on Sunday to defend the oft-criticized actions of the Vatican during the Holocaust, saying the Church had "acted in a discreet and hidden way."

The pope made the comments after a Jewish leader bluntly told the pontiff that his wartime predecessor Pius XII was "silent" in the face of the genocide of the Jewish people in Europe, and should have spoken out more forcefully against the Holocaust.

"The silence of Pius XII before the Shoah still hurts because something should have been done," Riccardo Pacifici, president of Rome's Jewish community told the pope, using the Hebrew word for the Holocaust.

"Maybe it would not have stopped the death trains, but it would have sent a signal, a word of extreme comfort, of human solidarity, towards those brothers of ours transported to the ovens of Auschwitz [death camp]," he said.

Meanwhile, Israel, via Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, asked the pope during his synagogue visit to open up the Vatican archives covering Pius' papacy.

"I asked the pope to find a way to make it possible to open the archives in the Vatican in order to give some details of the papacy of Pius XII in order to ease tensions between the Jewish people and Catholics," Silvan Shalom told Reuters at the end of the pope's visit.

In his speech in the synagogue, Benedict balked at the accusation that the pope turned a blind eye to the plight of Europe's Jews, saying: "The Apostolic See itself provided assistance, often in a hidden and discreet way."

Benedict was welcomed with applause Sunday upon his arrival at the synagogue, a visit he said would improve relations between Catholics and Jews.

He was greeted by Rome and international Jewish leaders as he arrived at the synagogue on the banks of the Tiber - a short distance from the Vatican - to begin the two-hour visit.

Several prominent Jews said they would boycott the visit, but applause greeted the pope as he arrived at the synagogue in the Old Jewish Ghetto, where for hundreds of years Jews were confined under the orders of a 16th century pope.

Benedict warmly shook hands with the synagogue's retired chief rabbi, Elio Toaff, who welcomed John Paul II when the late pontiff visited the synagogue in a ground-breaking event in 1986.

Rightardia comment: The Vatican needs to open its secret archives on the Nazi era. Benedict XVI proclaimed Pope Pius XII, sometimes referred to as the Nazi Pope, is eligible for beatification in a decree issued on December 19, 2009. Pope Benedict was a member of the Hitler Jugend and should clear the air on Catholic complicity with the Nazis. Let some Jewish scholars examine the archives and prepare a report
source: Hareetz

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