Vatican, Israel's Holocaust memorial spar over caption
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published April 13, 2007
JERUSALEM - The Vatican and Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial got into a public spat Thursday over the wartime conduct of Pope Pius XII during the Nazi genocide, threatening to upset fragile relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish state.
Separately, church officials announced new developments Thursday in the Vatican's case to make Pius a saint. A massive dossier on Pius' virtues - six volumes of 3,000 pages - was handed over to a panel of bishops and cardinals earlier this month to study, they said.
At issue in the Yad Vashem-Vatican dispute is a photograph of Pius in Yad Vashem's museum in Jerusalem with the caption: "Even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the pope did not protest," refusing to sign a 1942 Allied condemnation of the massacre of Jews during World War II.
Pius "maintained his neutral position" with two exceptions, the caption reads, criticizing "his silence and absence of guidelines."
The Vatican's ambassador to Israel, Monsignor Antonio Franco, confirmed Thursday that he would not attend Yad Vashem's annual memorial service next week because of the Pius photograph.
The memorial service is traditionally attended by all foreign ambassadors to Israel or their representatives. Yad Vashem said this would mark the first case in which a foreign emissary deliberately skipped the ceremony.
Syria-Israel ties: Syrian-American businessman Ibrahim Suleiman made an unprecedented appearance before the Israeli parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday, telling lawmakers that Syrian President Bashar Assad is ready to make peace with the Jewish state. The lawmakers reacted positively, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government gave no indication it was ready to restart peace talks with Syria - broken off in 2000.
Sharon condition: Israel's Channel 10 TV reported Thursday that there has been a slight improvement in former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's condition, but the hospital refused to comment. Sharon has been unconscious since suffering a massive stroke in January 2006.
[Last modified April 13, 2007, 01:35:46]
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