FM Cohen slams Vatican over tepid response to slaughter of Jews and Israelis

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Pope Francis arrives for a weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis arrives for a weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has strong words for the Vatican, telling the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States Paul Gallagher that Israel “expects the Vatican to come out with a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the murderous terrorist actions of Hamas terrorists who harmed women, children and the elderly for the sole fact that they are Jews and Israelis.”

“It is unacceptable that you put out a statement expressing worry primarily for Gazan civilians while Israel is burying 1,300 who were murdered,” says Cohen, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Catholic officials have had a range of reactions to the October 7 massacre.

“I follow with apprehension and sorrow what is happening in Israel,” said Pope Francis the day after the attack. “I express my solidarity with the relatives of the victims, and I pray for all those who are experiencing hours of terror and anguish.”

But the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem put out a statement as the fighting was still raging last Saturday that “the operation launched from Gaza and the reaction of the Israeli Army are bringing us back to the worst period of our recent history. The too many casualties and tragedies, which both Palestinians and Israeli families have to deal with, will create more hatred and division, and will destroy more and more any perspective of stability.”

Gallagher had been looking into making the first bilateral visit to Israel by a Vatican foreign minister before the fighting broke out.

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