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Vatican Official Under Fire for “Concentration Camp” Remark

By Susan  Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer The Israeli Foreign Ministry is accusing Vatican Cardinal Renato Martino of “Hamas propaganda” after the Cardinal referred to conditions in Gaza as resembling “a big concentration camp.” While commenting about the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza to the Italian website IlSussidiario.net, Cardinal Martino expressed concern over the humanitarian situation, saying "Let's look at the conditions in Gaza: these increasingly resemble a big concentration camp." He added: "Defenseless populations are always the ones who pay." A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the comment amounted to "Hamas propaganda,” and accused the cardinal of ignoring Hamas's "numerous crimes." He added: "This does not bring the people closer to truth and peace." Some are suggesting that any increase in tension between Israel and the Vatican could thwart the Pope’s planned visit to the Holy Land in the spring of 2009. No official date has been set for Pope Benedict's visit to the Holy Land but Vatican officials have visited the area to make advance plans. The trip is likely to take place in May, with the Pope visiting Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. However, the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See downplayed tensions over the remark, the Italian news agency, ANSA, reports. Ambassador Mordechai Lewy dismissed Martino's comments, saying that the cardinal was not in charge of the Vatican's diplomatic relations and had ''never seen a concentration camp in his life. The relationship between Israel and the Vatican is as good as before,'' he said. He praised the pope for condemning violence in Gaza and appealing to both sides for peace in a traditional New Year's address on Thursday. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com

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