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Rabbi Disappointed with the Pope

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Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust studies in Los Angeles, has expressed disappointment that Pope John Paul II failed to “address head-on the question of anti-Semitism” during an audience with a 30 member delegation from the Center at the Vatican three days ago.

Hier, who headed the delegation, had stated in his formal address to the Pope, “We come here today to solidify the bonds between people of faith and against the scourge of anti-Semitism and bigotry. We come here today hoping to hear from you … a clear and unequivocal message to all that this scourge in all its manifestations violates the basic creed to which all men of faith must aspire.”

The Polish-born Pope, however, limited his references to the fact that the delegation had just come from Poland where it had participated in observances of the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. “Paying homage to the memory of these innocent victims, we pray: May the eternal God accept this sacrifice for the well-being and salvation of the world,” the Pope said. He called the Nazi destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto a “horrible and tragic event of history.”

Hier said at a press conference later that his group would “redouble our efforts” to convince the Pope to condemn modem-day anti-Semitism. He said that at the Papal audience, each member of the delegation received copies of the Pope’s recent talk about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of a prayer for its victims.

“We are honored that every morning the Pope prays for the victims of the Holocaust but in neither of the statements we were given was there any mention of the future,” he said.

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