Page last updated at 03:20 GMT, Sunday, 17 January 2010

Pope Benedict XVI prepares to visit Rome synagogue

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Rome's synagogue
Benedict will be only the second Pope to visit Rome's synagogue

Pope Benedict is due to make an historic visit to Rome's synagogue - only the second time a Pope has made such a trip.

Pope Benedict's visit is aimed at cementing sometimes fractious relations between Catholicism and Judaism.

But it comes amid controversy over Pope Benedict XVI's plans to turn his wartime predecessor into a saint.

Some Jewish groups plan to boycott the event because they say Pope Pius XII didn't do enough to stop the Holocaust.

Rome's synagogue is the spiritual home of the oldest Jewish community in the world outside Israel.

The event is another gesture of reconciliation between the two faiths - but it comes amid a atmosphere of mistrust.

The reason for that is Pope Benedict's plan to press ahead with moves to canonise Pius XII, who was Pope during World War II.

That has offended many Jewish people who say Pius didn't speak out forcefully enough against the Holocaust.

The Vatican says the records show he did help many Jews, but some Jewish leaders are boycotting the papal visit as they believe the Catholic Church is misguided and insensitive.

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES Pope reaches out to Jews - 10 hrs ago
CNN Pope visits Rome synagogue - 13 hrs ago
Financial TimesHistory hangs over pope's visit to synagogue - 14 hrs ago
Bangkok PostHolocaust hangs over pope's visit to Rome synagogue - 16 hrs ago
The Independent Jewish leader hits out at wartime papacy - 17 hrs ago
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