Pope: Holocaust victims' cry still echoes in our hearts
Head of Yad Vashem council: Apology, empathy missing from German pope's speech at Holocaust Memorial.
Pope Benedict XVI visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Monday as part of his tour of Israel and the Middle East, where he lamented the suffering of the victims of the Holocaust.
"As we stand here in silence, their cry still echoes in our hearts. It is a cry raised against every act of injustice and violence. It is a perpetual reproach against the spilling of innocent blood," said the pope in his address.
The pontiff voiced the commitment of the Church to preventing such tragedies as the Holocaust in the future, saying "the Church is committed to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again."
"May the names of the victims never perish and may their suffering never be denied, belittled or forgotten," the pope added, in condemnation of Holocaust denial, a phenomenon that has recently raised tensions between the Church and the Jews when the pope reinstated a bishop who denied Nazis killed six million Jews.
A large portion of the pontiff's speech centered around the names of the victims of the Holocaust, essentially saying that the Holocaust cannot be denied.
"One can rob a neighbor of possessions, opportunity of freedom. One can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect. Yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being," the pope said.
The pope stressed the importance of preventing such atrocities as the Holocaust, saying "may all the people of goodwill remain vigilant in rooting out from the heart of man anything that could lead to tragedies such as this."
"The Catholic Church feels deep compassion for the victims remembered here," the pope continued. "Similarly, she draws close to all those who today are subjected to persecution on account of race, color, condition of life or religion - their sufferings are hers and hers is their hope for justice."
The Chairman of Yad Vashem council, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, expressed disappointment at the pope's speech, saying that "there certainly was no apology expressed here."
The German-born pope made a moving speech, he said, but added: "Something was missing. There was no mention of the Germans or the Nazis who participated in the butchery, nor a word of regret."
Nor was there an "expression of empathy with the sorrow."
Lau also criticized the pope for not specifically saying six million Jews were killed - though Pope Benedict did use this figure earlier in the day during another speech.