The pope is making the short jump to Yad Vashem, marking the most emotional part of the visit, at least for Jews closely following it.
The last visit by a pope to the site, Benedict’s visit in 2009, drew some ire after the pontiff, who was a member of the Hitler Youth, was accused of issuing a “lukewarm” condemnation of anti-Semitism, according to a Haaretz report at the time.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the chairman of Yad Vashem and father of Chief Rabbi David Lau, who will meet Francis after the Yad Vashem visit, said Benedict’s speech refused to acknowledge the enormity of the Holocaust.
“There’s a dramatic difference between killed and murdered, especially when a speech has gone through so many hands,” Lau told the paper at the time.
The speech “didn’t have a single word of condolence, compassion or sharing the pain of the Jewish people as such. There was a lot about the pain of humanity, cosmopolitan words,” he added, noting that he used “millions” and not “six million.”