Lau: Pope’s Yad Vashem speech came up short


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Council said the pope’s address at the Holocaust memorial museum did not go far enough.

"A few points were missing in the pope’s address," Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a former chief rabbi of Israel, told Israel’s Channel 1 Monday shortly after Pope Benedict XVI visited the Hall of Remembrance. "There was no mention of the Germans, or Nazis, who carried out the massacre. There was not a word of sharing the grief or of compassion or pain for the 6 million victims."

Lau, a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, also pointed out that  Benedict used the word "killed" instead of "murdered" to describe how the Nazis’ victims died. And, he added, the pope never said that 6 million were killed, saying only "millions."

Lau also lamented that while Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in his address at Yad Vashem nine years ago offered a moving personal expression of grief, the current pope did not go that far, instead offering the Catholic Church’s "deep compassion" for those murdered in the Shoah.

"I personally missed hearing a tone of sharing the grief," Lau said. "I missed hearing ‘I’m sorry, I apologize.’ "

Benedict’s visit to Yad Vashem has been controversial since it was first announced because of his participation in Hitler Youth and the fact that he would not enter the actual museum due to an unflattering portrayal of Pope Pius XII, who is said to have been silent in the face of Nazi atrocities against the Jews during World War II. The Vatican says Pius worked behind the scenes to rescue Jews in Europe.

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