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Jewish leader rebukes Pope over Holocaust

A Jewish leader told the Pope yesterday that his controversial wartime predecessor Pius XII should have protested more forcefully against Jews being sent to the “ovens of Auschwitz”.

The silence of Pius XII before the Shoah (Holocaust) still hurts because something should have been done,” Riccardo Pacifici, the president of Rome's Jewish community, said as Pope Benedict XVI visited the city's synagogue for the first time.

The criticism was one of the bluntest comments made in public by a Jewish leader to a Pope.

“Maybe it would not have stopped the death trains, but it would have sent a signal, a word of extreme comfort, of human solidarity, towards those brothers of ours transported to the ovens of Auschwitz,” Mr Pacifici told the pontiff during an address to the synagogue.

The Vatican had hoped that the synagogue visit would rebuild bridges with the Jewish world, after the German-born Benedict dismayed Jews by rehabilitating a Holocaust-sceptic British renegade bishop a year ago, and by advancing Pius further along the path to sainthood.

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