07/26/2005, 00.00
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Holy See responds to Israel's specious accusations

A statement by Navarro Valls. The delirious press release of the Israeli Foreign Minister.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) -- From Les Combes, in the Italian Alps, yesterday, where the Pope is on vacation, the Vatican's Press Office Director, Joaquin Navarro Valls, responded with a written statement to the accusations made by the Israeli government against Benedict XVI.

The Israeli protest derived from the fact that, at last Sunday's Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and the United Kingdom among the countries hit in past days by terrorism, but not Israel, struck 10 days ago by the attack in Netanya.

The government of Israel followed through with its accusations by also convoking the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem, Monsignor Pietro Sambi, to the Foreign Ministry to present him with a diplomatic note.

"It is surprising," the Holy See statement says, "to see the Holy Father's intention twisted so speciously, since it is well known that, on very numerous occasions, the Church, the teachings of the supreme pontiffs and most recently Pope Benedict XVI have condemned any form of terrorism, from whatever side it arrives and against whomever it is directed."

Navarro also pointed out "that the words of Benedict XVI referred specially to the attacks of "past days".  "Of course," the Vatican spokesman added, "also the serious attack at Netanya of the other week, to which the Israeli observations refer, full under the general, unconditional condemnation of terrorism."

Yesterday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry distributed a note to all Israeli newspapers, in an unprecedented attack against Pope Benedict XVI.   The following is an AsiaNews translation from Hebrew of the Israeli note:

"To: Editorial Offices

"The Ambassador of the Vatican has been summoned today, July 25, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and anger was expressed before him vis-à-vis the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his Sunday sermon on July 24, in which he condemned the recent terror attacks 'that occurred in various countries, among which Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and England', and in an explicit manner abstained from condemning the shocking terror attack that happened in Israel last week.

"Terror deeds that strike Jews in Israel - including the attack last week that caused the murder and wounding of many adolescents and children - are being frequently condemned by the leaders of the lighted hall [sic! Editor's note: probably a spelling error – 'civilized world' was likely meant]. The Pope's deliberate avoidance of condemning this latest deed cries out to heaven; beyond the moral stain that it involves, it can only be interpreted as legitimizing terror attacks against Jews. This roaring pretence by the Pope that nothing happened is made to strengthen extremist elements who oppose peace and to weaken moderates.

"We had expected the new Pope, who had given expression since the beginning of his pontificate to the importance that he attributed to the relations of the Church and the Jewish people, to have behaved differently, especially this year - 40 years after the 'Nostra aetate' Declaration.

"We expect now that the Pope, who has called for 'dialogue among the three religions that recognise Abraham as their father', condemns the terrorist attack that has cruelly stricken Jews as he has condemned other terrorist attacks."

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