Newsletter : 8fax0317.txt
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>JN March 17, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 50
Arafat Says Peace Process Nearing its End
By IINS News Service
PLO Authority Chief Yasir Arafat told a gathering of Islamic
leaders in Qatar that the peace process in the area is close to its
death. Arafat blamed Israel's "arrogance" for the collapse of the
peace effort in the region.
Vatican Apologizes for Failure to Save Jews
By Peggy Polk (VOA-Rome), IINS News Service
The Vatican has formally apologized for the failure of Roman
Catholics to do more to save Jews from the Nazi Holocaust of World
War 2. But the role of the wartime pope, Pius XII, remains a
focus of controversy.
The Vatican offered its formal apology in a 14-page document
entitled "We Remember, a Reflection on the Shoah." The document
expresses deep regret for what it calls "errors and failures" of
Roman Catholics who "were not strong enough to raise their voices
in protest" over the killings of millions of Jews.
In 1987, Pope John Paul II had promised a statement to Jewish
groups based on what role, if any, the church might have had in the
Holocaust. But, by defending the role of Pius XII, the document
appears certain to stir new controversy. Critics accuse the wartime
pope of failing to speak out in behalf of the Jews because of his
fear that the Nazis would retaliate against the Vatican. The
document says many Jews, including the late Prime Minister Golda
Meir, have credited Pius XII, with saving hundreds of thousands of
Only hours earlier, Israel's chief rabbi expressed dismay after
learning that the document would only refer in general terms to the
church's attitude to the persecution. Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, himself
a Holocaust survivor, demanded an "explicit apology for the
shameful attitude of Pius XII at the time."
Instead, the document defended Pius XII for using his first
encyclical, in 1939, at the start of his papacy, to warn "against
theories which denied the unity of the human race and against the
deification of the State," and which could all lead to a real "hour
Pope John Paul II -- who has worked throughout his papacy to
improve Catholic-Jewish relations -- makes no mention of the
earlier pontiff in his introduction to the document. But he
calls the Holocaust an "unspeakable iniquity" that will remain an
"indelible stain" on the 20th century. And he expresses the hope
that the document will "help to heal the wounds of past
misunderstandings and injustices."
Issuing the document at a Vatican news conference, Cardinal Edward
Cassidy, head of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations
with Jews, said it is "more than an apology." He called it an act
The document put distance between the Holocaust and any Christian
inspiration. "The Shoah (Holocaust) was the work of a thoroughly
modern neo-pagan regime. Its anti-Semitism had its roots outside of
Christianity and, in pursuing its aims, did not hesitate to oppose
the church and persecute her members also," the document said.
The document did take to task "governments of some Western
countries of Christian tradition, including some in North and South
America for being more than hesitant to open their borders to the
John Paul, the document recalled, has acknowledged that while some
Christians were courageous, "the spiritual resistance and concrete
action of other Christians was not that which might have been
"We cannot know how many Christians in countries occupied or ruled by
the Nazi powers or their allies were horrified at the
disappearance of their Jewish neighbors and yet were not strong
enough to raise their voices in protest," the document said.
"We deeply regret the errors and failures of those sons and
daughters of the church." The Vatican in 1993 agreed to have
diplomatic ties with Israel, a landmark in John Paul's papacy. The
last Vatican document of landmark proportions on Jewish relations
was a 1965 statement that came out of the Second Vatican Council
under Paul VI and said the Jews cannot be collectively blamed for
the crucifixion of Jesus.
Hamas Issues Warning
By IINS News Service
The Hamas terrorist organization vowed that Israel would pay a high
price if it went ahead with a hawkish cabinet minister's pledge to
try again to assassinate a top Hamas leader.
National Infrastructure Minister General Ariel Sharon (ret.) said
Saturday that he has informed Jordan's King Hussein that Israel
intends to finish off the job that was bungled by the Mossad in
Amman in September.
Sharon said he told King Hussein, "I said, 'You should know that we
will liquidate Meshal. I can tell you that we won't do it on your
Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, reminded
Israel that the group had launched a deadly wave of suicide
attacks after the assassination of its master bombmaker, Yecchi
Ayyash, in January 1996. He said "If they assassinate Meshal it
will cost them a very dear price."
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