Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vatican's Nuncio in Israel threatens to boycott Yad Vashem commemoration

Concerns over the proper interpretation of the role of Pope Pius XII during the war, especially as reflected on the caption of one photograph. From Asia News
No one is calling for history to be changed, but for a change in the interpretation of history, this yes, especially when recent studies show that such a change is called for. This is how Archbishop Antonio Franco, Nuncio in Israel, responds, in talking with AsiaNews, to the controversy created by the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The institute publicly announced the Nuncio’s decision to not take part in the annual commemoration of the Shoah in the case that his request is not met for reconsideration of the use of a photo portraying Pius XII – first displayed by the Museum in 2005 – which carries a caption that the Nuncio judges to be “offensive” and disrespectful of the truth, in that it speaks of a dubious reaction on Pope Pacelli’s part to the killing of Jews during the Holocaust.
News of Archbishop Franco’s decision was given today by Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth, in its Y-net on-line edition. The newspaper reports on a statement by the Museum, according to which “The Yad Vashem is dedicated to historical research, and the Holocaust Museum presents the historical truth on Pope Pius XII as is known to scholars today”, as well as statements by officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who say, “This is a very sensitive matter which needs to be examined in depth. It is important to us that all diplomatic delegates attend the memorial ceremony,” and “his absence will definitely stand out."
“My letter,” the Nuncio stresses, “was written to draw attention to a problem that for me must be reconsidered and further analyzed and this judgement on Pius XII must be changed. Otherwise, I will never go to the Yad Vashem. That is what I said. I have my responsibility as a person, a Christian, and representative of the Pope. It is difficult for me, as papal representative, to read this judgement that is not historical and is not true.”
Here's the story from the International Herald Tribune. It's a shame this has to become a minor international incident, but I am sympathetic to the Nuncio's stance here. Maybe there's a larger context as well, given the intransigence of the Israeli authorities on questions of issuance of visas to Catholic ministers, and taxation of church property and so on?

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