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Saturday, 14 April 2007 00:12

Vatican Threatens To Boycott Holocaust Memorial

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By Corinne Heller
Thu Apr 12, 10:14 AM ET

The Vatican ambassador to Israel threatened on Thursday to boycott a Holocaust memorial ceremony next week over a museum's portrayal of Pope Pius XII's conduct during the Nazis' killing of Jews in World War Two.

Archbishop Antonio Franco said he had written to the director of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum asking for the revision of a caption suggesting the wartime Pope had been apathetic to the Jews' plight.

The caption, quoted in the Israeli press, says Pope Pius XII "abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews" and "maintained his neutral position throughout the war."

Archbishop Franco said that in his letter he advised the Holocaust museum he "would not feel comfortable going to Yad Vashem" unless the wording was amended or the photo removed.

The photo appears in a new part of the museum that was opened in 2005. Yad Vashem hosts Israel's annual state ceremony to mark Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, which will take place on Sunday.

Archbishop Franco said he had not received an answer from the museum, which hosts foreign ambassadors at the event.

Defenders of Pope Pius XII have said he did everything possible to help Jews, while critics have portrayed him as an anti-Semite and Germanophile whose views were formed while working in Germany before his election as Pope in 1939.

Yad Vashem, which contains the largest archive of data on the Holocaust in which six million Jews were killed, said in a statement it had told the Vatican's representative "it was willing to continue examining the issue."

In its statement, Yad Vashem said it would welcome the opportunity to study the Vatican's archives relating to Pope Pius XII "to possibly learn new and different information" about him.

Historians have called on the Vatican to fully open archives for the papacy of Pius XII, which ended in 1958.


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