Benedict’s visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem comes against a background of friction between Judaism and the Catholic church. The centre was created in 1953 to remember the 6-million Jews killed by the Nazis and their collaborators. The role of the wartime Pope, Pius XII, has been a particular bone of contention. Many Jews believe he remained neutral while the atrocities were carried out.Avner Shalev, the Chairman of Yad Vashem said: “The silence, as it’s called, of Pope Pius XII, which means did he deliver any open speech to the public? Did he have a statement, publicly, with regard to the destiny of the Jews, the murder of the Jews during the period of the Holocaust? Here, as a summary, we know — and I think that no-one argues differently — that he didn’t do it.” More recently, the current pope infuriated many Jews when he lifted the excommunication of Richard Williamson – a conservative Catholic bishop who denies the extent of the Holocaust.
Catholic-Jewish frictions highlighted at Yad Vashem