ROME (JTA) — The Vatican denied that Pope John XXIII wrote a deathbed "prayer for the Jews" in which he asked God’s forgiveness for Christian anti-Jewish persecution over the centuries.
La Repubblica on Saturday devoted a long article to the prayer, which the Rome daily said had been written by the pope a few days before his death in 1963.
In response, the director of Vatican Radio, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Sunday that he had looked into the matter and determined that attribution of the prayer to John was "unfounded," even though it did reflect some of John’s known sentiments. He said the prayer first had appeared in an American Jewish Committee publication in 1965 and was published in Italy a year later, but its authenticity was always in doubt.
Lombardi said John felt "respect and love for the Jewish people" throughout his life, but "historical truth is more than sufficient" to appreciate this without resorting to fiction.