Following comments made by Nimrod Barkan, an Israeli foreign ministry official, which appeared in the Jerusalem Post newspaper on July 26, the Holy See Press Office issued the following note yesterday afternoon
Vatican Information Service
NOTE RELEASED BY HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE
VATICAN CITY – Following comments made by Nimrod Barkan, an Israeli foreign ministry official, which appeared in the Jerusalem Post newspaper on July 26, the Holy See Press Office issued the following note yesterday afternoon:
“The untenability of the groundless accusations directed against Pope Benedict XVI for not having mentioned – in comments following the Angelus prayer on July 24 – the July 12 terrorist attack in Netanya, Israel, cannot but be clear to the people who made them. Perhaps it is also for this reason that an attempt has been made to uphold the accusations by shifting attention to supposed silences of John Paul II on attacks against Israel in past years, even inventing repeated Israeli government petitions to the Holy See on the subject, and requesting that with the new pontificate the Holy See change its attitude.
“On this matter, it should be noted that:
“John Paul II’s declarations condemning all forms of terrorism, and condemning single acts of terrorism committed against Israel, were numerous and public.
“Not every attack against Israel could be followed by an immediate public condemnation. There are various reasons for this, among them the fact that attacks against Israel were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law. It would, consequently, have been impossible to condemn the former and remain silent on the latter.
“Just as the Israeli government understandably does not allow its pronouncements to be dictated by others, neither can the Holy See accept lessons and directives from any other authority concerning the orientation and contents of its own declarations.”
The Holy See Press Office note is accompanied by a document recalling some of the statements made by John Paul II between 1979 and February 2005, a month and a half before his death, in which he condemned violence against the civilian population and affirmed the right of the State of Israel to live in security and peace.
“It is sad and surprising” the document concludes, “that it has gone unobserved how, for the past 26 years, Pope John Paul II’s voice has been so often raised with force and passion in the dramatic situation in the Holy Land, condemning all terrorist acts and calling for sentiments of humanity and peace. Affirmations that run counter to historical truth can advantage only those who seek to foment animosity and conflict, and certainly do not serve to improve the situation.”