Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Liz Mackean reports
"It is an unprecedented apology"
 real 28k

The BBC's David Willey reports from the Vatican
"On bended knee the Pope implored God's pardon for the faults of all believers"
 real 28k

Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 22:29 GMT
Pope's apology not enough - rabbis
Pope and cardinals in St Peter's
The Pope did not mention the Holocaust specifically
Jewish leaders have welcomed the Pope's apologies for the past misdeeds of the Catholic church - but expressed disappointment that he did not make specific mention of the church's role during the Holocaust.

A bold and important step, but it would have been much more significant if he had made a mention of the Holocaust

Rabbi Marvin Hier
In an unprecedented gesture, Pope John Paul II on Sunday publicly asked God's forgiveness for the sins of Roman Catholics through the ages, including wrongs inflicted on Jews, women and minorities.

Israel's Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, said he hoped the Pope would make a more specific apology during his pilgrimage to Israel later this month, when he is due to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

The Pope
The Pope asked for forgiveness for wrongs committed during the church's history
Rabbi Lau said he was "a little bit disappointed" that the Pope had made no mention of the Holocaust or the controversial role of Pope Pius XII, who many Jews believe turned a blind eye to the Nazi death camps.

'Bold and important step'

Rabbi David Rosen, head of the Jerusalem office of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, said expectations that the Pope would say more were perhaps "a little unrealistic".

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, also welcomed the Pope's plea for forgiveness.

We are asking pardon ... for the use of violence committed in the service of truth

Pope John Paul II
"I think it's a bold and important step, but it would have been much more significant if he had made a mention of the Holocaust," Rabbi Hier said.

In the United Kingdom, the chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Lord Greville Janner, said the Pope's apology represented a "worthy" sentiment which now had to be turned into action.

He called on the Vatican to open its archives to allow investigation of the church's role during World War II.

Jerusalem builders constructing ramp at Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Jerusalem is preparing for the Pope's visit
The Pope made his prayer for forgiveness at a mass at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Sunday, in one of the first major events of the Vatican's year-long celebrations marking the beginning of the new Christian millennium.

"We are asking pardon for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth, and for attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed toward followers of other religions," said Pope John Paul, dressed in the purple robes of Lent.

The phrase "violence in the service of truth" is an often-used reference to the treatment of heretics during the Inquisition, the Crusades, and forced conversions of native peoples.

Sweeping forgiveness

The Pope's homily did not mention specific groups.

Christians will acknowledge the sins committed by a not a few of their number against the people of the Covenant

Cardinal Edward Cassidy
But confessions of sin made by five Vatican cardinals and two bishops, each with a response from the Pope, did ask for forgiveness for named wrongs.

Cardinal Edward Cassidy, raising the issue of the treatment of Jews, said: "Christians will acknowledge the sins committed by a not a few of their number against the people of the Covenant."

The Roma, or gypsy people, were also mentioned as having suffered.

Other confessions touched on treatment of racial and ethnic groups and "contempt for their cultures and religious traditions" and towards women "who are all too often humiliated" and marginalised.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Europe Contents

Country profiles
See also:

24 Dec 99 | Europe
Pope launches Holy Year
25 Feb 00 | Middle East
Pope calls for religious freedom
17 Nov 99 | Middle East
Pope's Holy Land trip confirmed
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories