Because of the beatification of Pius XII. The Pope’s almost failed visit to the Jewish synagogue in Rome went smoothly. Benedict XVI. defended the World War II Pope and the Vatican during the Holocaust and the Jewish community called for the Vatican archives to be opened about the time of the Nazi regime.
By Gregor Hoppe, ARD radio studio Rome
A Hebrew greeting of peace from the second Pope in church history who entered Rome’s synagogue. Taking common steps despite all differences and Benedict XVI. laid a wreath of flowers in front of the memorial stone, which commemorates the deportation of more than a thousand Roman Jews to Auschwitz. He also paused in front of another memorial stone, which commemorates the deadly terrorist attack on this church in autumn 1982.
Friendly but determined
Warm greetings between the Pope and the Jewish clergy of Rome. It is a moving moment when the entire congregation rose to greet some of the Holocaust survivors. Mayor Pacifici tearfully remembered his family and friends, some of whom did not return from the camps, but some of whom survived in hiding in a Catholic monastery. Then the president of the Jewish community of Rome said what he wanted: "that the historians get access to the archives of the Vatican concerning this time and all events after the collapse of Nazi Germany."
Pope defends World War II Pope Pius XII.
This addressed what almost made the visit today fail: that the Curia had the beatification of Pius XII. drives forward. This Pope and his political role during the Holocaust are hotly debated in the Jewish world. Rome’s chief rabbi Riccardo di Segni said that the silence of man does not escape God’s justice. Many saw this as a reference to the as yet unreleased Vatican secret archives on the pontificate of Pius XII. stressed, also Pius XII. and the Holy See tried to save Jews from murder by the Nazis, only they were forced to keep secret.
Pope emphasizes closeness between Catholics and Jews
Otherwise, both sides endeavored to leave what separates aside and to emphasize what connects them. Chief Rabbi di Segni named the pursuit of peace, justice, the protection of life and creation as common tasks for Jews and Christians. The Pope said that he was following the path of his predecessor John Paul II to further reconciliation and rapprochement between Catholics and Jews: "With feelings of lively cordiality, I find myself among you to show you the appreciation and affection that the Bishop of Rome showed and His Church and also the entire Catholic Church nourish this community and all Jewish communities that are scattered across the world. "
Benedict XVI. then spoke emphatically of the close spiritual connection between Christianity and Judaism and condemned anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews. He remembered the victims of the persecution and spoke of his visit to Israel and Auschwitz. "The rulers of the Third Reich wanted to slay the Jewish people in their entirety, and basically, with the annihilation of this people, they wanted to murder the God who called on Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and thus set the benchmarks for mankind that remain valid forever, "said Benedict in his speech.