Vatican Media Watch

Jewish Leader Asks Pope to Open Vatican Archives

THE SCOTSMAN, Aug. 19 — A Jewish leader urged Pope Benedict to open up all the Vatican's archives dealing with the Second World War and the Holocaust, according to the website of The Scotsman.

Welcoming him on a historic visit to a synagogue in Cologne, Abraham Lehrer told the Holy Father he had a special responsibility to open files that critics say would show how much Pope Pius XII knew about the Nazi slaughter of Jews.

The Pope's visit was laden with emotion and widely judged a success. In the audience of dignitaries before him were death camp survivors, including Vera Lehrer, the mother of the community leader Abraham.

Rabbi Netanel Teitelbaum, his voice breaking, said, “A lady with numbers on her arm, given to her in Auschwitz, could never have dreamed in 1944 that in 2005 her son would be greeting a German Pope at a German synagogue.”

Pope's Warnings on Terror and Anti-Semitism Hailed

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Aug. 23 — Pope Benedict XVI yesterday won praise from Jews and respect from some Muslims for his blunt warnings about the rise of anti-Semitism and terrorism during his first foreign trip as Pope, the Associated Press reported.

Benedict condemned the “insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism” that inspired the Holocaust and warned about the new rise of anti-Semitism — comments that drew praise from Jewish leaders around the world.

He seemed to harden his stance on terrorism when he spoke to Germany's Muslim community a day later, warning that terrorism risks exposing the world “to the darkness of a new barbarism” and urged them to join Christians in fighting terrorism.

Saying that Benedict's comments were a “new season,” in Christian-Muslim relations, Magdi Allam, Italy's leading Islamic commentator, told the Associated Press, “Finally a Pope who, before a Muslim delegation, condemns Islamic-rooted terrorism without exception.”

Threats Against the Vatican Investigated

AKI, Aug. 24 — Spanish police are investigating a fax signed by al-Qaeda and containing veiled threats against the Vatican that was sent to TVE state television Aug. 22 and to the daily newspaper ABC Aug. 23, reported the Italian news agency Ad Kronos International.

The three-page Arabic missive accuses the Vatican of having supported the Nazis and the Iraq war: “In the war in Iraq, the Vatican has supported capitalist countries who are just interested in Iraq's oil. The people in charge will pay for what they have done. Hitler, who was hand in hand with the Vatican, murdered 44 million people in order to steal their wealth,” the fax stated.

The report said Spanish police are “exhaustively” analyzing the fax, which they believe was authored by an al-Qaeda sympathizer rather than a cell member. Islamist terror experts believe they have “quite reliable indications” of who could be behind the fax, based on the place it was sent from — a state office in Catalonia, in northeastern Spain.