Alex Constantine - May 13, 2009
WWII row dogs Pope in Jerusalem
Katya Adler, BBC News, Jerusalem
Pope Benedict XVI held Mass in Israel's Josaphat Valley, beneath the Mount of Olives
A row has flared over Pope Benedict XVI's membership as a teenager of the Hitler Youth, as he paid an historic visit to Jerusalem's holy sites. A Vatican spokesman said the pontiff had "never, never, never" belonged - contradicting the Pope's own admission.
The comments came as he visited the Dome of the Rock - the first pontiff to do so - and then the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest places. ...
Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said: "The Pope was never in the Hitler Youth, never, never, never." ...
But his remark appeared to contradict the Pope's own words in his 1997 memoirs, Salt of the Earth.
"As a seminarian, I was registered in the HY [Hitler Youth]," he said then. "As soon as I was out of the seminary, I never went back."
The Rev Lombardi sought to make a distinction between the anti-aircraft auxiliary corps the Pope was enrolled in towards the end of the war and the Hitler Youth, which he described as a "corps of volunteers, fanatically, ideologically for the Nazis".
For a controversy which had been puttering to an end, the Vatican appears to have fanned it energetically back into life, says the BBC's Tim Franks in Jerusalem.
There has already been criticism from Israeli politicians and commentators, who said that in his speech on Monday the Pope failed to express enough remorse for the Holocaust. ...
Nazi row puts spotlight on Pope's PR
By Tim Franks
BBC News, Jerusalem
"The Pope spent the start of the day stepping gingerly through some of the most sensitive real estate in the world. ... "
'Pope was reluctant Hitler Youth'
By MATTHEW WAGNER AND SAM SER
"Pope Benedict XVI was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a teenage seminary student, but was ideologically opposed to the movement, Rev. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Holy See, said Tuesday."
Vatican 'surprised' by criticism of pope
By MATTHEW WAGNER
"The Vatican was 'surprised' at negative reaction in Israel to words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI at Yad Vashem on Monday, Holy See spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Tuesday."
BENEDICT XVI WALKS A RELIGIOUS TIGHTROPE
Trying to Stay on Message Despite Criticism
By Father Thomas D. Williams, LC
"JERUSALEM, MAY 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- We woke up this morning in Jerusalem to newspaper headlines decrying the supposed inadequacy of Pope Benedict's remorse in his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial Monday and in his meeting there with six Holocaust survivors. ... "
MIDEAST: Pope Failing the 'Test of Pain'
Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler
"JERUSALEM, May 12 (IPS) - Before stepping into Jerusalem's interfaith and inter-political Middle East minefields, Pope Benedict XVI had posited himself as a "pilgrim of peace". But, only hours into his spiritual mission, the Pope found himself crashing up against the walls erected by pain - Jewish pain and Muslim pain, the memory of the Holocaust, and Palestinian pain of the continued Israeli occupation. ... "