The head of Israel’s Holocaust memorial council, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, criticised Pope Benedict XVI for not apologizing for the Holocaust in his remarks at a museum on Monday.
“There certainly was no apology expressed here,” Lau said, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
“Something was missing. There was no mention of the Germans or the Nazis who participated in the butchery, nor a word of regret,” he added, although he noted that the speech was moving nonetheless.
Lau also said the pope should have specifically said that six million Jews were killed, although Benedict did mention the figure earlier on Monday.
Benedict had visited Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on Monday in Jerusalem, where he paid tribute to the deaths of Jews during World War II.
“As we stand here in silence, their cry still echoes in our hearts. It is a cry raised against every act of injustice and violence. It is a perpetual reproach against the spilling of innocent blood,” the pope said in his address during the visit.
He also insisted that the Catholic Church is committed to ensuring that such tragedies due not occur in the future, saying that “the Church is committed to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again.”
“May the names of the victims never perish and may their suffering never be denied, belittled or forgotten,” the pope added, according Haaretz.
“One can rob a neighbor of possessions, opportunity of freedom. One can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect. Yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being,” the pope said, an apparent reference to Holocaust-deniers.
“May all the people of good will remain vigilant in rooting out from the heart of man anything that could lead to tragedies such as this,” he added.
“The Catholic Church feels deep compassion for the victims remembered here,” Benedict went on to say. “Similarly, she draws close to all those who today are subjected to persecution on account of race, color, condition of life or religion – their sufferings are hers and hers is their hope for justice.”