The Jewish Chronicle - - News - By yaakov katz Jerusalem

A coN­TeNTioUs cap­tion on a pic­ture of holo­caust-era Pope Pius Xii at the Yad vashem holo­caust mu­seum has led to in­creased ten­sions be­tween is­rael and the vat­i­can, pos­si­bly scut­tling a visit to the holy land by the cur­rent pon­tiff.

The vat­i­can urged Yad vashem to carry out “a new, ob­jec­tive and in-depth re­view” of the cap­tion, which says that PopePius­did­not­protest­thegeno­cideof Jews and main­tained a neu­tral po­si­tion.

is­raeli pres­i­dent shi­mon Peres de­fended is­rael’s crit­i­cism of Pope Pius but said that the cap­tion con­tro­versy should not pre­vent Pope Bene­dict Xvi from vis­it­ing is­rael.

of­fi­cials said that while no visit was sched­uled, is­rael hopes that Pope Bene­dict will con­tinue the tra­di­tion of vis­it­ing is­rael set by his pre­de­ces­sor Pope John Paul ii.

Pope Bene­dict re­cently re­it­er­ated the vat­i­can claim that Pope Pius, who be­came pon­tiff in 1939 shortly be­fore the sec­ond World War erupted, qui­etly worked be­hind the scenes to save Jews.

“We have rea­son to be­lieve that Pius didn’t do enough to save Jewish life,” mr Peres said this week. “The Pope’s visit to is­raeli has noth­ing to do with anger or dis­putes.”

But vat­i­can of­fi­cials have in­di­cated that the cap­tion could pre­vent the pon­tiff vis­it­ing is­rael. in an in­ter­view with an ital­ian news agency last week, Je­suit Fa­ther Peter Gumpel said that the cap­tion was a “his­tor­i­cal fal­si­fi­ca­tion” and that Pope Bene­dict could not travel to is­rael un­til Yad vashem re­moved it.

sev­eral hours af­ter Fa­ther Gumpel’s in­ter­view, vat­i­can spokesman Je­suit Fa­ther Fed­erico lom­bardi re­peated the vat­i­can’s op­po­si­tion to the cap­tion but said that it would not serve as an ob­sta­cle to a pa­pal visit.

Yad vashem said that a pa­pal visit to is­rael was a po­lit­i­cal is­sue on which the photo cap­tion had no bear­ing. “The study of the holo­caust in gen­eral, in­clud­ing the role of Pope Pius Xii, is on­go­ing and dy­namic,” its state­ment read. “Pope Pius Xii’s ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the holo­caust is an is­sue de­bated world­wide. The pre­sen­ta­tion of the sub­ject at Yad vashem is based on the best re­search.”

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