Monday, April 16, 2007

Holocaust Remembrance

In an abrupt U-turn, the Vatican’s envoy to the Holy Land joined all foreign ambassadors to attend the official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony Sunday night at Yad Vashem, easing renewed tensions between Israel and the Vatican.

The Vatican had been offended by a photo caption at Jerusalem's Holocaust museum which emphasized the silence that Pope Pius XII maintained throughout the extermination campaign waged against Jews during World War II. The pontiff declined to sign the Allies condemnation of the genocide in 1942. But after receiving a letter from the museum directors suggesting a dialogue, Monsignor Antonio Franco agreed to end the public spat and participate. (The wartime pope is on the fast track to sainthood and his defenders insist that he saved Jewish lives with backroom diplomacy.)

"Since my action was not intended as a move to disassociate myself from the commemoration but to call attention to the manner in which the pope is presented - my aim has been achieved," Franco said in an interview on Vatican Radio.

Six Holocaust survivors were chosen to light ceremonial torches, each one representing a million people who were murdered in the Nazi death camps. Their harrowing stories were featured in the Jerusalem Post. A siren will wail for two minutes Monday morning, bringing Israelis to their feet in silent tribute to these victims of hatred. Memorial services will be held across the country, where 250,000 Holocaust survivors now live. Leftist youths will demonstrate outside the Knesset for the Israeli government to give exile to Darfur refugees. Others call for pension boosts for the 80,000 elderly Holocaust survivors who live below the poverty line inside Israel. Stress and childhood malnutrition have left these extraordinary people particularly susceptible to cancer, and some cannot afford medication. This neglect is viewed as a national disgrace.

1 comment:

Doubting Thomas said...

Many Evangelical Christians in Jerusalem demand that the Vatican archives to full scrutiny and prove that this "pious" pope actually did anything for the Jews in WWII.