Israel's Holocaust centre says Vatican ties might improve

8th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The announcement came after the Vatican gave researchers at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre evidence that senior clerics ordered a convent outside Rome to shelter Jews during World War II.

Jerusalem -- Israel's Holocaust remembrance authority on Thursday raised the possibility that its ties with the Vatican would improve significantly if new evidence emerges that controversial Nazi-era Pope Pius XII helped Jews.

The authority's chairman Avner Shalev said that the Vatican recently gave researchers at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre evidence that senior clerics ordered a convent outside Rome to shelter Jews during World War II.

The Vatican says the wartime pope ordered monasteries to shelter Jews persecuted by the Nazis.

"If one or two more documents like this come to light, it would certainly result in a significant improvement in our relations with the Vatican," Shalev told a news conference ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's arrival on Monday. "We are sure that they are looking for more evidence.”

Pope Benedict XXVI is scheduled to visit the Yad Vashem memorial within hours of his arrival but will shun the section where a caption below a picture of Pius says the wartime pope failed to speak out against the Holocaust.

Shalev says the good atmosphere surrounding preparations for the pope’s May 11th to 15th visit pleasantly surprised him.

Although some officials say Jewish-Vatican relations have never been better, Israelis are ambivalent about the German pope who was a member of the Hitler Youth and had stirred controversy by backing beatification of Pius XII and lifting the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying British bishop.

AFP/Expatica

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