Reuters: A senior Vatican cardinal on Thursday sharply criticised Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for claiming the Holocaust was a myth, condemning the assertion as a shocking injustice to the victims of the Nazi genocide. ROME (Reuters) – A senior Vatican cardinal on Thursday sharply criticised Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for claiming the Holocaust was a myth, condemning the assertion as a shocking injustice to the victims of the Nazi genocide.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, who, like Pope Benedict, is German, launched a specific attack on Ahmadinejad in a speech accepting an award from an international Jewish organisation.
“It is shocking to hear from the mouth of the president of a nation with an ancient and venerable culture, as the Iranian nation is, expressions of anti-Semitism which for every human being are unacceptable,” he said.
“To call the Holocaust a myth is a new injustice to the victims of this unprecedented genocide,” he said.
The Vatican criticised previous anti-Israel comments by Ahmadinejad, but the language used by Kasper, who is close to the Pope, was especially strong.
Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guardsman who was elected president in June, in October called Israel a “tumour” which must be “wiped off the map”, provoking a diplomatic storm and stoking up fears about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Last week Ahmadinejad first aired his doubts about the veracity of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. His comments drew rebuke the world over.
Kasper, the head of the Vatican’s department for religious relations with Jews, made his remarks at a ceremony where he was given an award by the Anti-Defamation League.
He said he wanted his condemnation of the remarks by Iran’s president to be seen as a “concrete” sign of the Vatican’s solidarity with the Jewish people.