Monsignor Antonio Franco with President Katsav (archive photo)
Photo: Flash 90
Vatican agrees to attend Holocaust memorial service
Vatican’s Ambassador to Israel Monsignor Antonio Franco will attend Holocaust memorial service at Yad Vashem, reversing earlier decision to boycott event due to caption at museum describing wartime conduct of Pope Pius XII; ‘it was only diplomacy,’ he says of affair
The Vatican’s ambassador to Israel will attend a Holocaust memorial service at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, reversing an earlier decision to boycott the event, officials said Sunday.
The boycott had threatened to upset fragile relations between Israel and the Vatican.
The Vatican’s ambassador, Monsignor Antonio Franco, announced last week that he would skip Sunday night’s event because of a caption at the museum describing the wartime conduct of Pope Pius XII.
The caption next to the picture of Pius in Yad Vashem’s museum reads, “Even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the pope did not protest,” refusing to sign a 1942 allied condemnation of the massacre of Jews.
Pius “maintained his neutral position” with two exceptions, the caption says, criticizing “his silence and absence of guidelines.”
The exceptions were appeals to the rulers of Hungary and Slovakia toward the end of the war. Officials from Yad Vashem, the Vatican’s Embassy and the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed that Sunday that Franco had reversed his decision and would attend Sunday’s ceremony.
Franco told Ynet he merely wanted to draw attention to the Catholic Church’s stance regarding the picture of Pius, saying it was “only diplomacy.”
According to him, there is evidence that the pope worked diligently to help save Jewish lives during the Holocaust. He said he would attend the ceremony because he is “not against the memory of the Holocaust or the people of Israel.”
“We just want the truth about Pope Pius to be clearer,” Franco said.