Pope's Speech 'Devoid of Compassion'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and chairman of Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, said Pope Benedict XVI's speech on Monday evening used "cosmopolitan phrasing" and was, for the most part, devoid of compassion.

Despite statements such as the cry of Holocaust victims "still echoes in our hearts," and "They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names," and promises that the church is working to ensure that such hatred never prevail again, Rabbi Lau found missing essentials in the Pope's remarks.

"(The Pope's speech was) devoid of any compassion, any regret, any pain over the horrible tragedy of the six million victims. Even the word 'six' was not included," the chairman of Yad Vashem said.

"(He) said nothing about the killers, neither Germans nor Nazis. What bothered me the most was the lack of condolences to the Jewish nation, which lost a third of its sons ," Rabbi Lau said, noting that the Pope used the word 'killed' instead of 'murdered.'

"I'm not talking about an apology," the rabbi continued. "I'm talking about empathy," he said.

"This (the Pope's speech) was more about sympathy to the pain of humanity. The speech had a cosmopolitan phrasing to it," he said.

Interior Minister and chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party Eli Yishai said it was too bad that the Pope "failed to rebuke past and present Holocaust deniers."

In contrast to Rabbi Lau's assessment, Yad Vashem Director Avner Shalev said the Pope's speech indirectly addressed Holocaust denial.

"It was an important, interesting speech," Shalev said, "and it referenced the need to fight violence, wherever it was. What I felt was lacking was any direct reference to anti-Semitism," he said.

Source: YNet news

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