Holocaust 'Deeply Saddens' Catholic Church, Says Pope

The Birmingham Post (England), March 24, 2000 | Go to article overview

Holocaust 'Deeply Saddens' Catholic Church, Says Pope


The Pope, uttering historic words in a dark, flame-lit hall at Israel's Holocaust Memorial, said yesterday the Catholic Church was "deeply saddened" by Christian persecution of Jews throughout history, and called for a new relationship based on common roots.

The sombre ceremony, attended by Israeli officials, Holocaust survivors and Jewish friends from the Pope's home town in Poland, was punctuated by small, touching moments as well as grand gestures.

A Holocaust survivor presented to the Pope began crying, and he gently patted her arm in consolation.

Israeli Prime Minister Mr Ehud Barak, his emotion evident in the hoarseness of his voice, at one point helped the frail pontiff from his chair and handed him his cane. A letter from a Holocaust victim to her son, read out at the ceremony, moved many to tears.

The Pope's words, coming during his historic Holy Land pilgrimage and the first official papal visit to Israel, were seen as the crowning chapter of efforts through his 22-year papacy to reconcile Jews and Christians.

But many Jews had hoped for more. The Pope did not assign any blame to the Catholic Church hierarchy, and he did not mention Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff accused by many Jews of staying silent while their brethren were killed. …

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