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Failure of Papal Vicar to Attend Memorial Service for Victims of Terrorist Attack Angers Rome’s Jews

Rome’s Jewish community is concerned and resentful over the failure of the Papal Vicar, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, to attend a memorial last Sunday for the victims of a terrorist attack on the main synagogue on October 9, 1982,

The entire political community was on hand, including the mayor, government ministers and other authorities to mark the first anniversary of two year-old Stefano Tache’s death and the wounding of 40 Jewish congregants by gunfire and grenades,

Poletti sent a telegram explaining that “pastoral duties” kept him away. He failed to send a representative or even a message. The Jewish community views this slight as another example of what it perceives to be the inadequacy of the Vatican’s efforts to seek reconciliation between Catholics and Jews without re-examining basic historic facts.

QUOTES ARCHBISHOP OF MARSEILLES

Those sentiments were expressed by Arrigo Levi, a well known Italian Jewish radio and television personality, political commentator and columnist, writing in the nationally read daily La Stampa of Turin,

Levi opened his commentary by quoting from the speech delivered by Cardinal Etchegaray, the Archbishop of Marseilles, to the Bishops Synod in Rome on October 4. “So long as Judaism remains foreign to our salvation, history will be subjected to anti-Semitic reflexes,” the Archbishop said. “We too have a mission of penitence because of our centuries old attitude toward the Jewish people. We must learn to ask forgiveness of the Lord and of our brothers.”

Levi noted that Pope John Paul II has yet to visit Rome’s historic ghetto. “A Polish Pope who witnessed the Holocaust of European Jewry in his invaded country, a Pope who has travelled throughout the world but has not made that brief step across the Tiber to visit, in peace, his Jewish brothers — should he not perhaps have given his Vicar to understand that there was no pastoral or consolational duty higher than that of asking forgiveness of the Jews of Rome for the past, on a day of such bitter memories?” Levi wrote.

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