I was asked whether the Pope did not fail by not expressing an apology at Yad Vashem, Israel's central Holocaust memorial.
Haaretz, Israel’s foremost daily paper, published an article explaining that “Different factions in the Vatican and in the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, the local Catholic leadership, the Chief Rabbinate, the Islamic Movement, are all pursuing different agendas, and for months already have been attempting to extract maximum political benefit from the visit. Benedict will have to perform a high-wire act, walking above these conflicting interests, without falling into the minefield.” Link
In an editorial that Haaretz published a couple of days later, after the Pope’s visit to Yad Vashem, the paper complains about a missed opportunity. I don’t know what Haaretz expected. A pope will not say what the Jews really want to hear: that the Holocaust was a direct result of anti-Jewish teaching and preaching by Christian preachers, priests and theologians. Anything less is unimportant.
A pope will not say what the Jews really want to hear: that the Holocaust was a direct result of anti-Jewish teaching and preaching by Christian preachers, priests and theologians. Anything less is unimportant.
In the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council and its subsequent documents, the Catholic Church has, after very long deliberations, given as much as it felt it was able to give to the Jews. It was absurd to think that the Pope would, as a little guest gift, produce apologies and mea culpas that the Church had not agreed to before.
It is petty to constantly harp on the Pope’s childhood as a conscript to Hitler’s army or even to deal with the beatification of Pope Pius XII, an internal matter for the Church and Catholics.
Instead of the past, the Pope should concentrate on the future. A true contribution to bringing Israelis and Palestinians to accept each other’s right to live in the area they both claim should have been the Pope’s one and only agenda point on this visit. The Pope should have taken advantage of the colossal public interest during his historic visit and employed the wide-ranging impact of his office for a theatrical act commanding an end to a conflict led by extremists on both sides.
Some might even consider that such a contribution could also have served as the ultimate act of contrition.