Yesterday afternoon, the Vatican released a stern statement defending the Pope’s words and rejecting an Israeli complaint that he failed to condemn militant Palestinian attacks in remarks made on Sunday.
In his remarks, made during Sunday’s angelus, the Pope deplored attacks on the countries of Brittan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq--countries which, the Vatican pointed out, had all endured terrorist attacks within the previous 72 hours. Israel’s most recent was 12 days prior.
The Vatican said that "Not every attack against Israel could be followed by an immediate public condemnation… partly because they 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.”
The statement did note however, that, "John Paul II's declarations condemning all forms of terrorism, and condemning single acts of terrorism committed against Israel, were numerous and public.”
Nimrod Barkan, an Israeli foreign ministry official, commented in the Jerusalem Post newspaper on July 26th that, "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”, he continued, “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 petitons to the Holy See on the subject, and requesting that with the new pontificate the Holy See change its attitude.”
In response, and noting John Paul‘s numerous condemnations and Israel’s violations of world law in their responses, the Vatican said that, "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 included with the statement a document which lists many 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.
In conclusion, the Vatican document states that, "It is sad and surprising 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,” it read, “and certainly do not serve to improve the situation."