Much of the world’s media attention is focused on the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Middle East. During his tour, the Pope plans to meet with both leaders and members from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths, in an attempt to reach out in a spirit of conciliation.
Arguably, one of the most difficult aspects of the Pope’s tour was yesterday’s visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. In view of the Pope’s recent decision to end the excommunication of Richard Williamson – together with tensions over his own past and his endorsement of the role played by Pope Pius XII – this particular visit has been viewed with some trepidation.
During his visit to Yad Vashem, Benedict XVI spoke eloquently about the dangers of anti-Semitism and the horrors of the Holocaust. Indeed the BBC’s David Willey reports that ‘[t]he Pope’s immediate, forceful and unequivocal condemnation of anti-Semitism in any form and in any part of the world will have pleased his Israeli hosts’. However, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, chairman of Yad Vashem was not so impressed. Rabbi Lau pointed out that at no point did the Pope apologize, express regret or even empathy with the victims of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust: Remembrances, Reflections, Revisions
By Stephen J. Whitfield
(Vol. 1, October 2006)
‘The Rise of the Historical Consciousness’
By Johannes C. Wolfart
(Vol. 4, January 2009)